What if? ... R.E.M had taken the Indie label route

For clarity, I think that when R.E.M. retired, they made the correct decision. As much as I’d dearly love something new from them, forever, I’m totally at peace with it.


I have always been intrigued by what could have been, had they decided to keep the band as an essentially part time endeavour, signed to an indie label, as briefly considered while they decided their future.

Could it have worked or do you think the juices had run dry and would’ve diluted their legacy?

As Bill Berry is now playing in bands again, could he have been tempted to return to a part-time, scaled back R.E.M.?

Were we robbed of their greatest ever era?

What do you think?

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That’s a good exercise to think of all that. Yeah, I do believe they would either need an extended break and then return (as a small indie band would make sense, and maybe Bill could be on board, who knows?) or just break up for good. I’m partial to that notion of just not doing anything else because I really dislike CiN. If that’s the direction they were taking, I don’t see a reason to carry on with the band.

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WIth all due respect, I think that the last three songs, especially We all go back to were we belong, are acceptable yet nothing extraordinary. In fact, had they appeared in 1997 (or 2004) I believe that they would have gone largely unnoticed. But these where “the” legacy songs, and given the context in which they saw the light of day, they needed to be measured with a different stick. Of course we all go back to where we belong is moving, and touching, but it’s nowhere near their best ever as some people pretend.

Having said that, I was one of the few who actually believed in that article Matthew Perpetua wrote, where he anticipated that R.E.M. would self release the 16th album. At the moment I thought that it was a great idea, especially after the great success of In Rainbows, that album later becoming one of Radiohead’s best.

I couldn’t, nor I wouldn’t comment on the hypothetical musical virtues of R.E.M.'s 16th studio album (because I don’t think that the last three songs are an indicator of anything) but I do think that the “indie” model suited this band better than any other.

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I think CiN’s a nice tribute to their own career, but in turn, lazy by it’s very definition. In not sure it would’ve been the direction they went though if they were to carry on in some capacity.


Well, they did definitely consider it, but I think it was thrown out quite quickly.

The only problem I could see from the Radiohead model is how they could both scale back and tour. You kind of have to stop, because whenever you do l, it still becomes a massive event. You could play small venue’s, but it would still be hyped and let down a lot of plans. Peter and Mike wouldn’t have wanted to stop playing, for sure.

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