Michael Stipe's 'beyond incredible' relationship with REM bandmates

Michael Stipe's relationship with his R.E.M.bandmates is "beyond incredible".

The band was formed in 1980 by guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, drummer Bill Berry - who quit in 1997 - and lead vocalist Stipe and although they "called it a day as a band" in 2011, Stipe says they are closer than ever.

When asked what his relationship is like with his bandmates, Stipe, 61, told the New Yorker magazine: "Beyond incredible. I just spent three weeks Mike Mills in Europe, promoting [the 'Monster' reissue]. Phenomenal. And then Peter and I texted all day long yesterday. There’s things happening in our lives, so we’re leaning on each other.

"Bill’s a farmer. He’s the true eccentric of the band. The most beautiful, intelligent, really grounded person. He just got tired of travelling. He wanted to make music, but he didn’t want to do all the stuff around it.

"Bill's in Athens. I go there quite frequently, to visit my family, and I keep a home there that I bought when I was 25. I love being there. I call it my Hamptons. New York is my home, Berlin is our second home, and then my boyfriend is from Paris, so the South of France is where his extended family lives, and that’s where we spend a lot of time. And Athens is where my family lives, so I spend a lot of time there. They’re each very distinct."

And Michael says the band have a "beautiful, really deep, profound love and respect for each other" that only got stronger after R.E.M. split.

He explained: "With R.E.M., the foundation of the music was the band. The friendship. A shared love of music, and then these guys who were presenting me with these incredible pieces of music on which to do something. They always came first, and I had to do something. It was a partnership that worked beautifully - kismet-ly. Like, how did it happen that we came together and created this thing? We’re talented, but we’re not that talented. Together, we were a force. And then there’s the friendship, which cannot be taken for granted by people who don’t know us. But there’s this beautiful, really deep, profound love and respect for each other that allowed us to make it all the way through that thing and emerge as maybe even better friends afterward, because now we don’t have to fight and argue about what direction this or that thing will go."

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