Post-R.E.M. Peter Buck Talks About Vinyl Records, The Punk Revolution & Lots More


Peter Buck did a rare interview with Salon that was published today. The former R.E.M. guitarist and songwriter seems quite happy with his life. He’s working with musicians he digs, taking walks, writing songs and pretty much having a ball.

It wasn’t always that way. Buck says when R.E.M. disbanded, he was in a bad way.

“It seemed like everything occurred at once,” he told Salon’s David Daley. “I remember I felt really sorry for myself for a day or two, and then I thought, well, this is bullshit. I have got a million friends; if I was broke I could just call them and stay on their couches for 10 years. I still have whatever ability I had, which isn’t a lot. I’ve got great family, great friends. You know, I don’t have to work for a reason; there’s no need.

“I was just down. Disheartened when things end. When lots of things end — I was really sad when my kids went off to college. They weren’t.

“I’ve just got to remember who am I and consider what I’m going to put my time to doing. You know, I’m like a lot of people my age — music is not something I need to do 24 hours a day, but I want to continue to create. And I want to do things that are interesting and entertaining and fun.”

Buck still thinks back fondly on the days when he could introduce journalists to great unknown bands of the punk and post-punk era.

“We had bands open for us that we really respected.,” Buck told Salon. “At a time when no one knew who the Minutemen were, I would play tapes of them for writers in England, and they’d say, ‘This is amazing. This is a revolution happening right now in America and nobody’s paying attention to it.’ We’d talk about it, whether it’s Howard Finster or Flannery O’Connor. You know, we weren’t getting a lot of information either. I grew up in Atlanta in 1978, and every once in a while somebody would have a Melody Maker that was six weeks old.

“The B-52s went to New York and they would tell you things. I didn’t know them very well, but you’d hear, ‘Wow, there’s this great band called Gang of Four.’ My whole thing was whenever I would do interviews, I’d say, you know, it feels like there’s only 20 people in this town, but there’s 20 people in every town in America interested in these things. I’m still really good friends with a lot of them — Steve Wynn, Bob Mould. People who helped shape scenes where they lived.”

Buck recorded a solo album for Portland-based Mississippi Records and only released it on vinyl.

“Well, when R.E.M. went the way of all flesh — it was all amicable and we decided and we agreed 100 percent, but it left me thinking, well, I’ve been dissatisfied for a few years with what has gone on. So what don’t I like? And I sat down and made a list of things I like and a list of things I don’t like. The things I don’t like had nothing to do with music — it was all the other stuff. The business part of it, and you know, the interviews. I’ve only done five in the last five years. I don’t promote my own stuff with interviews because I don’t need to. But for years I’ve been saying I hate the way CDs sound, and on top of that I don’t like records that are made on Pro-Tools, even though that makes it easier. So I went all the way to the other side. I’ve been lucky enough where I don’t have to make a living making records. So I can do it exactly the way I want to — and if that’s seen as exclusionary, that’s OK, but you know, you can order the records.”

For more, head to Salon.

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael has had three novels published that comprise the "Freak Scene Dream trilogy": "True Love Scars," "The Flowers Lied" and "Untitled" which can be ordered here. His new book, "Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey," can be pre-ordered from HoZac Books. In November Backbeat Books will publish "Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg," which can be be pre-ordered here.

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