A new hope for R.E.M. fans: Is Peter Buck hinting at a chance for a reunion?

'Tis the season for wishing that "probably not" will become "maybe so" one day soon ...

By Erin Keane

Chief Content Officer

Published December 22, 2015 9:31PM (EST)

R.E.M. performs on NBC's "Today" in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, Tuesday, April 1, 2008.    (AP/Jason DeCrow)
R.E.M. performs on NBC's "Today" in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, Tuesday, April 1, 2008. (AP/Jason DeCrow)

This time last year, R.E.M. fans sighed a collective resigned sigh over former frontman Michael Stipe's declaration that a reunion of the beloved band, which disbanded in 2011, would "never happen." As Stipe told CBS's "This Morning" at the time, "There's no point. I love those guys very much and I respect them hugely as musicians and as songwriters and everything but I just don’t want to do that thing that people do...I despise nostalgia. I'm not good at looking back."

And that, we assumed, was that. But last week, former guitarist Peter Buck — still busy with the Baseball Project supergroup he founded with Mills, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon, among other things — told the San Diego Union Tribune, in an interview about his Todos Santos Music Festival, that perhaps all was not lost after all.

When the newspaper asked Buck if R.E.M. would consider reuniting for a benefit tour for the charity of their choice, Buck gave an almost-definite, totally-99.999 percent-sure answer:

“I had dinner last week with (former R.E.M. members) Mike (Mills) and Michael (Stipe), and I think the feeling is that we did exactly what we set out to do — more probably,” Buck told the Union Tribune. “And we reached a point where, if we kept going, what would it mean to us?

“I think our last record (the 2011 album ‘Collapse Into Now’) is pretty good. But was it our best record? Will we ever make our best record again? Probably not. I can’t see us saying: ‘Let’s get together for four months again and go on the road again.’ I can’t see it."

Probably they won't ever make their best record again is not a "definitely not," right? He's not saying "no," exactly — just that he can't see it.

R.E.M. fans, send a vision to Peter Buck. Help him see the beauty of an R.E.M. headlining tour — and hey, why not a new album? — in his future. He's leaving the door ever-so-slightly open — go ahead, give it a nudge.

After all, the 2016 lineup of Todos Santos will feature the debut of Buck's latest musical project Filthy Friends, a collaboration with Corin Tucker. Maybe Tucker's recent Sleater-Kinney reunion vibes are rubbing off?

By Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's Chief Content Officer. She is also on faculty at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University and her memoir in essays, "Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me," was named one of NPR's Books We Loved In 2022.

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Michael Stipe Mike Mills Music Peter Buck R.e.m.