Former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck recently reflected on the remarkable success the quartet enjoyed back in the 90s and it “took away some of the pleasure” of being in the band.
Peter Buck talks about his time in the band
Speaking in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine about his time in the Athens, Georgia-based group. The band split on amicable terms in 2011 and Buck says, “when it got really big, I don’t know if anyone really enjoys that.”
“When the non-musical stuff became so intense, it took away some of the pleasure for me,” he said. “It’s just the stuff where you kind of wake up and go: ‘God, I don’t really want to have my picture taken today. And I don’t really want to pretend to be an actor in some video where I can’t act.’
“I loved playing Glastonbury and playing in front of lots of people and selling multiple millions of records,” Buck continues, “but it was never the reason I did it. And when we got to the point where we decided that it was the end, it felt like a great shared experience. I wouldn’t change it, but I’m not gonna go back to it.”
He was then asked about the benefit of a decade’s hindsight and whether he feels that R.E.M. disbanded at the right time.
Buck said: “I think so.”
“The last two records [2008’s Accelerate and 2011’s Collapse Into Now] were really strong,” the guitarist continues. “But I just felt like no matter how good our last record was, it wasn’t really our time any more. And that’s fair, I understand that. And we were lucky. The last tour we did, we were still playing to huge amounts of people. We went to South America, which was like being The Beatles. So everyone felt like, yeah, this is a really good stopping point.”
“I’m really grateful that I got to experience the heights that R.E.M. reached,” Buck insists, “but when it was over I didn’t have a lot of interest in pursuing that type of largeness again. I don’t think it would be available to me anyway. But there are certainly ways that I could have extended that popularity – get a group with someone else famous, get a publicist, all that crap. I see these other bands, they’re older guys, and they’re trying to keep up. But all I really want to do is write songs, play them and record them.”