Peter Buck Reveals How R.E.M. Once Sabotaged The Verve

It’s Britpop Week here at Stereogum, and to help us celebrate, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck has shared a story about his old band sabotaging the poor blokes of the Verve. Buck sat down with Portland’s Willamette Week for a rare interview, and among other things, reminisced about the time he and his R.E.M. cohorts did a bit of showboating at the expense of the Verve:

We opened for the Verve, and we left those guys with their tail between their legs. We didn’t open for them, we got paid more, but we went on before them [at a festival]. Michael [Stipe]’s like, “This sucks.” I said, “Well, if you want to make them look bad, let’s just do all of our hit singles. We’ve never done that before.” So we played 90 minutes, and every song was a top 10 single somewhere. We walked off and went, “See ya, boys! Enjoy playing that unreleased new record of yours.” Nice guys, too.

Poor Verve. First, Verve the record label sues them for the rights to their name, then the Rolling Stones sue them for sampling too much of the orchestral version of “The Last Time,” now we find out R.E.M. bullied them too? AND they had to deal with Richard Ashcroft’s ego on top of all that? Those guys had it rough!

Comments (13)
  1. I was at this. Think it was Oxegen ’09 in Ireland.

    • that was probably it, 2008. although the setlist doesn’t exactly scream “greatest hits” as much as peter buck claims:

      1. Living Well Is the Best Revenge
      2. These Days
      3. What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?
      4. Begin the Begin
      5. Man-Sized Wreath
      6. Drive
      7. Ignoreland
      8. Hollow Man
      9. Imitation of Life
      10. Electrolite
      11. The One I Love
      12. Losing My Religion
      13. Fall on Me
      14. Let Me In
      15. Bad Day
      16. Horse to Water
      17. Orange Crush
      18. I’m Gonna DJ

      Encore:
      19. Supernatural Superserious
      20. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
      21. Man on the Moon

  2. Well, at least Richard Ashcroft got to marry Kate Radley – and that still seems to be working out.

  3. At least the Verve got the last laugh with their mega-hit “the Freshman.”

  4. Yeah it was 2008 in Ireland at it certainly didn’t sound like a greatest hits set. I recall it being pretty awful and the crowd really weren’t into it. I’d seen them in Belfast a few years before and they had a much stronger set.
    The Verve only played 2 songs from that ‘unreleased record’ one of which was a hit single at the time.
    Old Pete much of had too much of the Jameson that night!

  5. Not to sound cliche’, but I really liked R.E.M.’s old stuff but “Out Of Time” kind of ruined them. In particular, “Losing My Religion”. That seems to be the song that people who hate the band remember by them. Buck and Mike Mills are kind of jerks anyway. They were at a radio function one time and showed up late and stood in the corner talking to each other while Stipe(who was cool) signed autographs and talked to the fans who were mostly kids from a local school. And like I said in the Top Ten Verve Songs comments, Ashcroft is a great front man and the band’s musicianship is way more impressive than Pete’s ukulele strumming.

  6. why did they even whine, they weren’t really ‘opening’ for them clearly, that’s a full fucking set if i’ve ever seen one. now if they only had a half hour like normally shat upon opening bands, then i’d totally get the whining. god this reminds of poor radiohead opening for alanis in 96…and US poor fans having to decide whether to support that whore with a $30+ ticket to only see our fav band for 30 mins…she shoulda given them 15 mins more.

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