R.E.M.: 10 Years After the Breakup
When R.E.M. broke up in 2011, the band made it clear it was done.
“As lifelong friends and coconspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” the Athens, Ga., group said in an official statement announcing the split. “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished.”
A decade later, R.E.M. have stuck to their word: Unlike other bands that break up with great fanfare, they haven't reunited — and, when asked about getting back together, they stress there are no plans.
The decision is very much in line with how R.E.M. operated during their 30-plus-year existence. "I'm really proud of the fact that [R.E.M.] ended in 2011 with the ideals we started with in 1980," guitarist Peter Buck told Rolling Stone in 2016. "I'm really proud of the body of work. There are a couple of records that aren't great. But there's a couple of Bob Dylan records that aren't great."
Still, the members of R.E.M. have stayed quite busy since the breakup. Here's what the band — and the musicians — have been up to during the past decade.
Although R.E.M. have never reunited for a music performance, various band members have played together in different configurations. Retired drummer Bill Berry joined Buck and bassist Mike Mills for several R.E.M. songs, including "Superman" and "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville," at a January 2017 Minus 5 show. Berry also teamed up with his former bandmates for tunes such as "The One I Love" during a January 2018 benefit for R.E.M.'s longtime friend and collaborator Scott McCaughey. The R.E.M. trio again joined forces to play Pylon's "Crazy" with that Athens band's Vanessa Briscoe Hay at a September 2019 Atlanta show.
R.E.M. have also released a steady stream of compilations and reissues, starting with Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011, which arrived a few months after the band's split. Later years brought official releases of their MTV Unplugged episodes (Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions), REMTV (a collection of MTV-related appearances spanning 25 years) and R.E.M. at the BBC (which compiled radio sessions).
The group has also continued to release deluxe 25th-anniversary editions of its albums up through 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi. In 2021, the band reissued its 1981 debut single, "Radio Free Europe," and cassette demo for the 40th anniversary.
Watch Pylon's 'Crazy' Performed Live
Singer Michael Stipe mostly stepped away from the music spotlight — although in 2012 he performed R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" with Coldplay's Chris Martin during 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief. Still, Stipe has released books featuring his photographs, including 2018's Volume 1 and a volume with author Douglas Coupland, 2019's Our Interference Times: A Visual Record.
Stipe coproduced the electro project Fischerspooner's 2018 album, Sir, then released a solo track, "Future, if Future." That was followed by other sporadic songs (2019's "Your Capricious Soul" and 2020's "Drive to the Ocean") and a collaboration with Big Red Machine on a haunting single, "No Time For Love Like Now."
In 2021, Stipe released another book, Portraits: Still Life, and a cover of "Sunday Morning" on the 2021 Velvet Underground tribute, I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico.
Listen to Michael Stipe and Big Red Machine's 'No Time for Love Like Now'
Bassist Mike Mills tours, writes and records with the Baseball Project, a band dedicated to intricate stories about baseball's colorful characters. In 2016, he also teamed up with a childhood friend, violinist Robert McDuffie, for the collaborative Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra.
Mills performed that classical piece on a fall 2019 tour titled "A Night of Georgia Music," which featured Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell and other musicians playing tunes from the Peach State's legendary musicians. In keeping with his hometown pride, Mills also guested with Athens band Widespread Panic at their Halloween 2019 concert.
He's also teamed up with the jam-leaning group BIG Something for a cover of “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville," and played bass on 2021's Amplificado LP by the power-pop band Split Single.
Watch Mike Mills Perform a Rock Concerto
Even when R.E.M. were active, Peter Buck frequently collaborated with and produced other artists. In the decade since the band's breakup, his schedule has been jam-packed with music — so much so that a complete accounting of his post-R.E.M. resume is a daunting task.
Some of the high points include three solo albums on Mississippi Records, including a 2012 self-titled effort and 2014's I Am Back to Blow Your Mind Once Again. Buck also toured in support of the latter. That same year, he cowrote and coproduced (along with McCaughey) Alejandro Escovedo's 2014 album, Burn Something Beautiful, and appeared on the Baseball Project's 3rd.
Buck continued playing with McCaughey's revolving-door band the Minus 5 and also formed multiple groups of his own, including Filthy Friends (with Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker), Arthur Buck (with Joseph Arthur) and the No Ones, a power-pop collaboration with Norwegian musicians. In 2020, Buck also teamed up with former Auteurs member Luke Haines for the album Beat Poetry for Survivalists.
For good measure, Buck has also produced albums by alt-country icons the Jayhawks (2016's Paging Mr. Proust) and the rock band Eyelids (2017's Or), and appeared on releases from Dressy Bessy, First Aid Kit, Chuck Prophet and the Monkees.
Watch Filthy Friends' 'Break Me' Video