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After more than 30 years, R.E.M. decides to 'call it a day'

By Matthew Perpetua
Rolling Stone

Peter Buck, from left, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills of R.E.M.(©Retna)

R.E.M. announced today that they have broken up after 31 years together. "As lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band," the band said in a statement on their official website. "We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished."

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In just over three decades as a band, R.E.M. released 15 albums including landmark works such as "Murmur," "Reckoning," "Document," "Out of Time" and "Automatic For the People." The band's final album, "Collapse Into Now," was released in March of this year. The band have plans to release a career-spanning greatest hits collection later this year, which will include a handful of new songs finished after the band completed "Collapse Into Now."

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"During our last tour, and while making 'Collapse Into Now' and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, 'what next'?," bassist Mike Mills wrote on the R.E.M. site. "Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together."

Mills insists that the band have ended their working relationship on very good terms. "We feel kind of like pioneers in this," he says. "There's no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off. We've made this decision together, amicably and with each other's best interests at heart. The time just feels right."

"I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way," says frontman Michael Stipe.

Ethan Kaplan, owner of the R.E.M. fan community Murmurs and former Senior Vice President of Emerging Technology at Warner Bros. Records, says that the band's decision was influenced in part by label politics. "I suspected this was coming last fall," Kaplan tells Rolling Stone. "If you remember, they weathered a lot of storms in this business, and have always operated on their own terms. [Warner Bros.] changed starting last September, and I think the demands on a band now to get a record out were more than they might have wanted to commit. I can understand that after how hard they worked for how long, the thought of going back to 'paying dues' with new label staff, in a very weird industry, was too much."

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Sep 22, 2011 8:43PM
Guess nobody told them that they were washed up decades ago...
Sep 21, 2011 9:50PM
Didn't these guys retire already? When the drummer quit the band about 14 years ago?  
Sep 21, 2011 6:17PM
One of the best ever from back when I first saw them 28 years ago. The past 15 years or so have been worthless.
Sep 21, 2011 4:15PM
It's the end of their world as we know it, and I feel fine and not Everybody hurts
Sep 21, 2011 3:00PM
This is the first step in a planned process for them to make a huge money grab.  They'll lay low for 3 or 4 yrs doing solo projects etc., then guess what, they will announce a big reunion tour, with a best of CD set with a few new tracks included, cha ching ....... mark my words
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