R.E.M. this week will release classic and rare material from its first five years on I.R.S. Records, but bassist Mike Mills says the veteran group remains most interested in moving forward with new mu
R.E.M. this week will release classic and rare material from its first five years on I.R.S. Records, but bassist Mike Mills says the veteran group remains most interested in moving forward with new music. As previously reported, R.E.M. is getting ready to return to the studio to record the follow-up to 2004's "Around the Sun."
"We'll start rehearsals probably some time in the next month or two," Mills tells Billboard.com. "I think [guitarist] Peter [Buck] and I probably both have a tone of stuff, but we haven't sat down and played it for each other yet. I don't think in terms of directions, but I think this next record might have a little more rock to it. I like 'Around the Sun," but I think, honestly, it turned out a little slower than we intended for it to, just in terms of the overall speed of songs."
In addition to R.E.M.'s early classics, the two-CD compilation "And I Feel Fine" features 11 unreleased tracks, foreshadowing a possible larger rarities boxed set at some point in the future. "We don't have any set plans," Mills says, "but I wouldn't be surprised if one day well into the future one or more of us will probably start digging through the pile and seeing if there's anything worth putting out. And if there is, maybe we'll do a fun box set with all kinds of even weirder stuff than this."
And although five vintage concert cuts are included on "And I Feel Fine," Mills says the prospect of an R.E.M. live album has never held much interest for the band.
"In my personal opinion, there are some great live albums," he explains. "[The Allman Brothers Band's] 'Fillmore East' is something I'll always enjoy. But for R.E.M., my feeling is if you weren't there, you missed it. The music is meant to be heard in conjunction with seeing the band in those situations, and I don't really like separating the two.
"But," he adds, "depending on what we find in the vaults, some more of that [live] stuff could make its way out."
This week, Mills, Buck and vocalist Michael Stipe will reunite with ex-drummer Bill Berry to rehearse for R.E.M.'s induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The foursome will play three songs on Saturday (Sept. 16) at the ceremony in Atlanta, although Mills said no decisions have yet been made on which.