R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck has been writing a lot of new material and hopes to get into the recording studio "sooner rather than later" to work on the group's 13th album, according to a recent interv

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck has been writing a lot of new material and hopes to get into the recording studio "sooner rather than later" to work on the group's 13th album, according to a recent interview with prominent R.E.M. fan site Murmurs.com. Buck also commented on the state of the music industry and his hopes for its future during the extensive chat.

Though the busy Buck is involved in many projects, including the previously announced release of a third album with his instrumental band Tuatara, he conceded his primary focus was still R.E.M.

"I'm working on songs for the new record," Buck said. "Me and [R.E.M. sideman] Scott [McCaughey] play together a lot. I do think it's good for us to keep working on a regular basis and not turn this into a kind of hobby. It has to be something important in your life that you work on."

But Buck declined to offer any time frame on the group's future plans, admitting that he doesn't want to push the other members into recording another album until they are ready.

The guitarist also engaged in a lengthy discourse on the state of the record industry, discussing the recent troubles of former labelmates Wilco, who parted with Reprise last month.

"It doesn't make business sense to drop someone like Wilco, who makes the record company money," Buck said. "They make records inexpensively and tour their asses off...when I heard that they got dropped, I just thought it was the most insane thing I had ever heard"

Speculating on the future of Internet music distribution, Buck said he admired the efforts of groups like the Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam, who have made dozens of live recordings commercially available, but said he would rather cut out the CD-manufacturing middleman for such a venture with R.E.M.

"I'd love to put up whole shows ... limited pressing CDs in the future. For the last record, 'Reveal,' there is a whole CD of instrumental stuff that is pretty interesting," he said. "Right now, we're still too forward-thinking to think about the catalog, but I think I guarantee that sometime through the Web site or fan club or both, we'll make [archive material] available."

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