R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills gave his honest assessment on Michael Stipes lyrics, and also talked about the bands well-reviewed recent tour during a conversation with CL contributor, Ben Westhoff.
Youve said before that you generally dont ask Stipe about his lyrics. Do you sometimes feel like you dont know exactly what hes talking about?
There are occasions what Im not exactly sure what he was thinking when he wrote the lyrics, but that doesnt matter. The only important thing is that the songs give you a sense of passion, or some sort of image within your own mind. What Michaels thinking is not always that important. And thats not to diminish what his intent is with the lyrics in any way, Im just saying that its the listeners perception thats most important.
THREE-HEADED MONSTER: Peter Buck (left to right), Michael Stipe and Mike Mills. R.E.M. performs w/Modest Mouse and the National this Sat., June 21. $35-$75. 6:30 p.m. Lakewood Amphitheatre, 2002 Lakewood Way. 404-443-5000. www.livenation.com.
Many songs on Accelerate seem fairly political. Does that make them easier to understand?
You know, I generally know what hes talking about on almost every song. There may be one song per record where I dont know where hes coming from. But again it doesnt matter, because as long as I get some sort of mental picture, it doesnt have to be the same one he has. And, really, theres only been one or two songs in the history of R.E.M. where Ive ever actually felt like I needed to ask him what he was thinking. Usually I just take my own interpretation of it and Im happy with that.
You seem to be getting great reviews for Accelerate, but people seemed not to speak so highly of your last three albums.
Yeah, exactly. No, Up was not Life's Rich Pageant, but it wasnt supposed to be. You cant make the same records over and over again. Thats pointless.
Reviews from this tour say you guys are playing with a real sense of urgency and passion. Do you agree with that assessment?
You know, passions always been an important part of R.E.M. Were all really focused and enjoying what were doing, and that allows the passion to come through. I think we all really want to play well, and were all very focused, but theres no sense of urgency, in the sense of, Oh God, we cant suck or were in trouble.
You specifically are getting rave reviews for your bass playing on this tour. Are you surprised? Are you doing anything differently?
No, I just think were all playing really well. Were all having a really good time. For some reason Im singing really well. Im not sure why.
No new mouthwash or anything?
[Laughs.] No, just trying to take care of myself, you know, to be fit and be well.
I'm pretty sure he was 19.
3 people apparently love handing over an extra 40% in fees for nothing in return…
Dang. I thought they would name some actual headliners.
Forgot to mention that Iggy did a stellar show @ the Agora in the spring…
Their fees were onerous, to say the least. $16 per ticket for "convenience," and it's…
That poster is for the Iggy Pop show on March 11 1983 @ 688 club…