Latin Music Week

R.E.M. Thrilled To Join Patti Smith In Rock Hall

R.E.M.'s joy at being named a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2007 inductee is made all the more special because the group itself is "wretched" at being retrospective, according to frontman Michael Stipe.

R.E.M.'s joy at being named a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2007 inductee is made all the more special because the group itself is "wretched" at being retrospective, according to frontman Michael Stipe.

"Our strength seems to be looking forward...(to) the next song or the next record or the next video and the next tour and trying to continue doing good and sometimes great work," Stipe told Billboard.com from London, where he, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and manager Bertis Downs were meeting to talk about plans for R.E.M.'s next album. "So it's really an honor that someone took the time to look backward and to kind of recognize what we've done in our past, 'cause we're really crappy at it."

Stipe and Mills both said that R.E.M. was particularly pleased to be in the same class of inductees as Patti Smith, an acknowledged influence on the band who called Stipe today (Jan. 8) to congratulate the band on the Hall of Fame news. "It was really greater to be able to say 'Congratulations to you' back to her," Stipe says. Mills added that, "She's been up (for induction) before and hasn't gotten in. I was afraid that her lack of huge record sales might blind people to her influence."

Stipe and Mills said original drummer Bill Berry, who left R.E.M. in 1997, will be attending the March 12 Hall of Fame ceremony in New York, but the group hasn't decided what songs it will play and who will induct it.

The group was also inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in September, where it reunited with Berry and also backed fellow inductee Gregg Allman. At that time, Stipe, Buck, Mills and Berry hit the studio to record a John Lennon cover for a Darfur benefit album, but group members were tight-lipped about when the cut will see the light of day.

Stipe did say R.E.M. plans to hit the studio at the end of the month to "bash out some demos" of eight songs Mills and Buck have written, which he's currently putting lyrics to. The trio is also considering "I'm Gonna DJ," an unreleased song from the sessions for 2004's "Around the Sun" that they played last night in Oxford, England, with Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, which features Buck and R.E.M. drummer Bill Rieflin.

"The songs that we're working on now will probably be at least some of the songs on the record," Mills says. "We're just basically gearing up for the whole thing."

Stipe adds that he's "excited about whatever direction we're gonna take. I can't really tell you what it's going to sound like, but I'm expecting it will sound like R.E.M. in 2007 -- whatever that is."