For reasons presumably unrelated to Michael Stipe’s dick flicks, R.E.M. “>announced their breakup today. And while we can argue all day about their past decade-plus of output, very few bands — maybe no bands at all — have had a greater impact on the last few generations of independent rock music than R.E.M. have. Without them, the music world would be in a vastly different place today. Respect is due.

On their website, the members of the band have posted a brief statement announcing that they’re done. They haven’t given any reason for the breakup. But when you’ve been a band for 31 years, you sort of don’t need a reason to retire.

Here’s the complete text of their statement:

To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.


At Stereogum, we gave R.E.M. our own sort of salute by putting together Drive XV, our free 15th-anniversary tribute to their Automatic For The People album. You can still give that a listen right here.

UPDATE: The R.E.M. website has added statements from the members.

Mike Mills:

During our last tour, and while making Collapse Into Now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, ’what next’? 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.

We have always been a band in the truest sense of the word. Brothers who truly love, and respect, each other. We feel kind of like pioneers in this–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.

Michael Stipe:

A wise man once said–’the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it.

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.

We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It’s been amazing.

Peter Buck:

One of the things that was always so great about being in R.E.M. was the fact that the records and the songs we wrote meant as much to our fans as they did to us. It was, and still is, important to us to do right by you. Being a part of your lives has been an unbelievable gift. Thank you.

Mike, Michael, Bill, Bertis, and I walk away as great friends. I know I will be seeing them in the future, just as I know I will be seeing everyone who has followed us and supported us through the years. Even if it’s only in the vinyl aisle of your local record store, or standing at the back of the club: watching a group of 19 year olds trying to change the world.

Comments (32)
  1. This is a bummer, as I feel they were hitting a nice, new stride from “Accelerate” to “Collapse Into Now.” The latter does make a nice swan song, though.

  2. Michael_  |   Posted on Sep 21st, 2011 +10

    Let this be a note to all influential indie rockers: Before you break up, let it not be one final sold-out concert or incredible album that you leave your fans with, but rather a peen pic of your frontman. James Murphy, you did it all wrong…

  3. I agree with topknot – the last two albums were really strong. Listening to ‘Collapse Into Now’ right now…. Uberlin is such a great track. Sad to hear this news. 31 years, 15 albums…. Such a great band.

  4. I’m torn between being nostalgic and not caring. The first real concert I ever went to was R.E.M. at the Pacific Amphitheater on the Green tour. Everything from Chronic Town through Document probably rates somewhere in my personal top 100. But I’ve not paid much attention since Monster. Tastes change, I guess, both mine and theirs.

    On another note, I’m never really sure why bands, especially ones that have been around this long, need to announce breakups. It’s not like a store going out of business, alerting customers that they won’t be there anymore. Bands either tour or they don’t. They release new albums or they don’t. Look at GBV. There’s very little difference, if any, between “breaking up” and “just kinda not doing it anymore, until at some point maybe we are”.

    • woozefa  |   Posted on Sep 21st, 2011 +1

      it’s so the reunion tour will pack more seats.

    • Your feelings reflect my own.

      I just love the I.R.S. records.

    • Totally agree. Bands don’t really seem to “break up” anymore in the old sense of the word…an irrevocable split that stops a continuous stream of production/output. That stream just seems to peter out — and there aren’t many groups who release a new LP every year like in the olden times anyhow.

      And, even the Pixies and Pavement got back together for reunion shows. It’s hard for me to care that much about this, despite loving R.E.M.

  5. That “XXX MICHAEL” has a whole new meaning today.

    Yes, I’m still making dick jokes.

  6. Great band, stunning legacy. They basically made the records they wanted to which happened to include a handful of classics. I’m one of those weirdos who really enjoyed lots of their last decade, for all its ups and downs. They could have gone the obvious route of endless U2 hero worship and instead, they just made albums they wanted to make. Massively influential, massively prolific, they can retire and die knowing they’ve inspired millions.

    A few more thoughts over on the late-period R.E.M over at hackeryblog:

    • “I’m one of those weirdos who really enjoyed lots of their last decade, for all its ups and downs.”

      And I’m the opposite. I camped out for Document and Pageant record releases in high school, but I’ve had little interest in their releases since Automatic. Still, people shouldn’t forget how, when the first EP and Murmur came out, they sounded totally different to everything else. They were from a different planet, musically, and I can make the argument that they were the best band in the world for a few years.

  7. That was unexpected.

  8. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  9. RIP

    Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
    The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago,
    Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
    Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
    Still, it’s so much clearer
    I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge
    The moon is low tonight

    Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
    I’m not sure all these people understand
    It’s not like years ago,
    The fear of getting caught,
    Of recklessness and water
    They cannot see me naked
    These things, they go away,
    Replaced by everyday

  10. I was one of those fans who got into REM by listening to Monster, Automatic For The People and New Adventures In Hi-Fi as a 90s teenager. It wasn’t until later that I discovered their classic back catalogue (IRS years). REM always remained true with each release, Reveal and Collapse Into Now are underrated REM albums. Can’t wait to hear Stipe’s solo LP which I’m sure is inevitable. Happy trails REM… happy trails.

  11. You can say what you want about them, but the amount of classic material they have is astounding. Listing their albums in order is even a little bit daunting. That said, you could make the case that they should have broken up ten years ago, but this was a good decision. Nothing but respect for these guys.

  12. It’s the end of R.E.M as we know it.

    • How does that make you feel?

      • I’m at peace with this. I’m not overly excited, but i’m definitely not down in the dumps about this. they were a solid band that put out some really great songs, but i certainly wasn’t an REM fanboy. but i’ll still certainly dig up some old REM every once in a while.
        i guess what i’m trying to say is, i feel…”fine”. yeah, that works.

  13. Murmur
    Fables of the Reconstruction
    Lifes Rich Pageant
    Out of Time
    Automatic for the People
    New Adventure in Hi-Fi
    +A handful of other albums I’ve come to love

    Holy Jesus Christ.

    • A whole lot of greatness that…+ Monster and +the other handful of albums for me

    • I’d add Chronic Town to your list: “Boxcars”, “Gardening at Night”, “Million” … two or three of those were always the encores in their early shows.

      Speaking of which, this band is (or was) smashingly-good live. Intimate, creative, electric energy, charming.

      • Agreed–Chronic Town, Dead Letter Office, Eponymous, Monster, Up, Reveal, and half a dozen live bootlegs from the IRS years all get heavy, heavy rotation from me. Accelerate & Collapse Into Now, a slightly lesser extent.

        I just think of them more as “fan” albums. The ones listed above (sans Out of Time) I’d all consider decade-defining records.

  14. I hope this isn’t a blogosphere faux paus, but here’s my own reflective opinion piece on the band that was R.E.M.

  15. Hey guys – I grew up loving this band – wanted to share this – in light of their announceme­nt, I uploaded a cover version I recorded of “Carnival of Sorts” – check it out – http://www­.burnsidem­­ichard-cov­ers-r-e-m/

  16. warner trying to shut this down. New link:

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