R.E.M are to play their first concert without former drummer BILL BERRY at this year’s Tibetan Freedom Concert in June.
The Washington DC concert, which organisers hope will also feature U2 and BECK, takes place on June 13. Berry’s drum stool is expected to be filled for the occasion by Screaming Trees and Tuatara drummer Barrett Martin, who has been recording with REM at sessions for their new album.
It will be the band’s first live outing since the end of the ill-fated ‘Monster’ tour in 1995.
Meanwhile, REM guitarist Peter Buck spoke recently to US music website Addicted To Noise about the album sessions and hinted that the new material sounds completely unlike the band’s previous albums.
Buck told ATN: “It’s not like a rock band this time around, it’s something else, but I don’t know what it is.” Buck said elements of the jazz and world music-tinged Tuatara had carried through into REM sessions. Keyboardist Scott McCaughey, who plays in Tuatara with Buck, is also contributing to the album.
Buck reveals that on one track, all the percussion instruments were put in a duffle bag and dropped on the floor in time whilst “slamming the piano bench”. “That’s the percussion for that song, it sounds great. You couldn’t pay ten people to make that sound.”
Buck said the group were finding new inspiration since the departure of Berry: “I don’t blame him, it’s his choice in life, but it’s kind of really inspired us to come in and work on stuff, and everyone that’s there really wants to be there, as opposed to someone who wants to leave at 5 o’clock every day because he doesn’t enjoy it.”
According to the band, some 40 songs have been prepared for the as-yet untitled album, which is due to be released in October. It is the first REM album in a decade not to be produced by Scott Litt and is instead being co-produced by Pat McCarthy (U2, Counting Crows, Wallflowers).
As reported earlier on NME.com, REM are said to be lining up UK dates for next Spring, after opening a world tour in “medium-sized venues” in Australia in January.
Finally, Michael Stipe will be guesting on Grant Lee Buffalo’s fourth album, ‘Jubilee’, which is due on June 9. Peter Buck and co’s side-project Tuatara release their second album ‘Trading With The Enemy’ in mid-May.