Upon the recent release of R.E.M.’s set of 7-inch vinyl, ‘7IN-83-88,’ bassist Mike Mills sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss why he loves singles, the Athens, Ga. band’s 30-year career and the importance of reflecting on their success.

Since their relatively quiet breakup in 2011, R.E.M. have spent a good amount of time reflecting -- releasing a series of backward-looking reissues and box sets. In addition to ‘7IN-83-88,’ the band released ‘Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions’ on Record Store Day 2014, plus a career-spanning, six-DVD documentary, ‘REMTV,’ which featured the comprehensive documentary, 'R.E.M. by MTV.'

When asked if the new releases have offered new insight into the band’s career and catalog, Mills said, “I can’t say that I’ve been awakened to anything I missed, but it is rewarding to see that people still care, and in ways to find out how much they cared at the time.”

“It is one of our rare opportunities to look back, because we were always a band that looked forward,” he added. “As a band, it is time to look back a little bit.”

And when Mill looks back, he picks out ‘Orange Crush,’ ‘Life and How to Live It’ and ‘Harborcoat’ as some of his favorite bass lines. He also included R.E.M.’s hit, ‘Losing My Religion,’ in that group, crediting Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie with its creation.

“I couldn’t think of what to do on that song, so I thought, ‘What would John McVie do?’ I definitely owe John for that one,” he said.

‘7IN-83-88’ boasts several R.E.M. classics, like ‘Radio Free Europe’ and ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It,’ plus a handful of covers, including the Velvet Underground’s ‘There She Goes Again’ and Peter Gabriel’s ‘Red Rain.’

“Rather than put another version of our song on there, it’s much more fun to show the listeners what we like and what goes on in our heads when we’re not doing R.E.M.,” Mills explained about the selected covers.

As for choosing to release a set of singles, Mills says he’s always loved and collected them. “Singles for us were just great things in of themselves, with or without being hits,” he told the magazine. “Singles are what we grew up on, singles are what made us love music in the beginning, so being able to make singles felt like we had achieved a connection with the thing that made us love music in the first place.”

And though ‘7IN’ includes some of the band’s massively popular singles, Mills admits, “We never really planned on hits.”

Of his own collection of singles, Mills cites Elvis Presley’s ‘All Shook Up’ backed with ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and the Mojo Men’s ‘Sit Down, I Think I Love’ as some of his all-time favorites.

Read Mills’ full interview with Rolling Stone here.

You Think You Know R.E.M.?