Peter Buck on R.E.M.’s Breakup: ‘I Hate the Business + I Didn’t Want to Have Anything to Do With It’
Five years after R.E.M.’s breakup, guitarist Peter Buck has opened up about the alt-rock greats’ dissolution. “I hate the business,” he told Rolling Stone. “And I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.”
At the time of the band's breakup, Buck made a five-page list of all the things he couldn't stand about the music industry, and it encompassed just about everything except making the music itself. “It was the money, the politics, having to meet new people 24 hours a day, not being in charge of my own decisions,” he said.
According to Buck, the band’s decision to call it a day was easy and level-headed. “We were doing the last record, Collapse Into Now,” the guitarist recalled. “We hadn’t made an announcement or anything. We got together, and Michael [Stipe] said, ‘I think you guys will understand. I need to be away from this for a long time.’ And I said, ‘How about forever?’ Michael looked at Mike [Mills], and Mike said, ‘Sounds right to me.’ That’s how we decided.”
Buck is content with where he is now: a relatively low-key solo artist with outside bands the Minus 5 (with R.E.M. touring guitarist Scott McCaughey) and the Filthy Friends (with Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker). He’s also pleased R.E.M. came to an amicable conclusion with their legacy in tact. “I’m really proud of the fact that we ended in 2011 with the ideals we started with in 1980,” he said. “I’m really proud of the body of work… I like the fact that we walked away from it, and we’re not bad-mouthing each other. We’re not suing each other.”