In 2011, R. E. M. announced they were finally calling it quits. And just for fun, a journalist with TheQuietus.com cornered Michael Stipe for an exit interview.
What was the most satisfying thing about your job, Mr. Stipe?
MICHAEL: [pauses and thinks] God, everything.
What was the least satisfying part of your job? The travel?
MICHAEL: Well, I love forward motion and velocity so I don't really mind travel. Least satisfying? [thinks] Yeah, anything you do as a group is fraught with compromise. But everyone’s got to do that, right? It's part of being a good parent, or a good boyfriend, whatever.
Did you receive sufficient feedback as an employee of R.E.M.?
MICHAEL: The answer's yes! Too much!
What's the best bit of advice you received?
MICHAEL: [From Patti Smith.] Be yourself. Follow your heart. [shrugs] I know it sounds obvious, but it's the best advice for anyone ever.
Mr. Stipe, thank you for your loyal years of service. It's time for me to let you go. But tell me honestly, does it feel liberating?
MICHAEL: That was the big surprise. Mike Mills and I got together few days after the announcement in New York, and he said exactly that. “This feels liberating.” And I was actually relieved. Because that was exactly the word inside me. And we've said bittersweet a lot too. But it is bittersweet. It's hard to walk away from what we've done since we were teenagers. But I'm so proud, too. We're all so proud of what we did.
. . . .
Adapted from TheQuietus.com.