R.E.M.’s Peter Buck Admits Not Counting On Mike Mills

Although R.E.M. ended its musical journey in 2011, the band still occupies an essential place in the rock scene with its unique sound. While leaving their mark on the business with their music, they just didn’t want to be a part of the wild market anymore, and they stood by their decision. Twelve years after the band’s breakup, Peter Buck opened up to Guitar World about their years together. His statements also touched upon Mike Mills and his playing style.

“As a songwriter, my job is to lay out the chord change,” the R.E.M. star said, emphasizing his role in the band. “I want to come up with a great riff and tie it in with the song. I usually write bridges as I’m not much of a soloist. I’d rather write a bridge or a piece that is a guitar line.”

He continued, “When R.E.M. started with Mike on bass, even though he’s the best bass player on earth, you can’t really count on him to hit the root note on the one. It’s just not going to happen. So I had to find a way to fill some of the low-end – and then the melodies on the high-end – and I kind of learned how to [flatpick and fingerpick], so I could get a lot of sounds just by playing chords and walk-ups, just trying to fill the space.”

At the time of R.E.M.’s breakup in 2011, Peter Buck said that the problem wasn’t that R.E.M. had actually deteriorated creatively; on the contrary, he had a lot of confidence in their music. The problem for him was the music industry itself. Continuing to be part of R.E.M. meant also being part of that industry. Buck was tired of this, and his bandmates were no different. So, by joint decision, R.E.M. called it quits.

Their breakup hadn’t been one of those rowdy, noisy ones the rock world often sees. The members make this decision quite smoothly, without saying a word to hurt each other. The most injured party in this decision was probably the fans. However, the fans shouldn’t be too hard on them because of their decision, considering the complicated dynamics of the music industry. Plus, even though they announced the end of their musical journey, their loyal fans and many more newcomers continue to enjoy R.E.M.’s music.