From the Athens Daily News, February 9, 1999.

By Cat Mantione Holmes
Features Editor

The mood at the R.E.M. offices was definitely upbeat Monday, as the
Athens-based rock band announced a three-month world tour this summer,
beginning June 17 in Lisbon, Portugal, and winding up Sept. 11 in

The dog days of August are reserved for the hometown crowd -- the band
will play Aug. 27 at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, N.C., and
follow that up with three dates at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in
Atlanta, Aug. 29-31.

When its latest album ''Up'' was released in October, R.E.M. chose not
to commit to a world tour, in part because members were still
regrouping, literally, after founding member and drummer Bill Berry's
October 1997 departure. The band performed instead on a number of
television shows, including ''The David Letterman Show,'' ''The Rosie
O'Donnell Show'' and ''Sesame Street.''

However, lead singer Michael Stipe said Monday that ''we never
completely dismissed the idea that we would tour,'' and added that ''we
had so much fun doing the promo shows in the fall.''

The promo shows were small and intimate affairs for a band that sells
out stadiums, with 600 to 1,000 people -- many of them members of the
band's fan club -- filling rooms in both the United States and Europe.

Band members enjoyed the concerts so much that they decided they wanted
to play on this summer.

''What we wanted to do was play in the summertime,'' Stipe said. 

''Five weeks in the U.S. and five weeks in Europe, which makes each show
an event for us and for the fans, and it keeps us from feeling like
we're slogging around the world for a year and a half. For us, a
yearlong tour is a year-and-a-half, doing press and getting the shows
set up and rehearsing and getting the merchandising.''

Bass guitarist Mike Mills emphasized that a grueling world tour didn't
interest the band in the least, but that he and Stipe and guitarist
Peter Buck do love to play live.

''It becomes work,'' Mills said. ''The joy tends to dissipate after
eight to 10 months of it and you're cheating yourself and you're
cheating the fans and you're cheating the music by not approaching it
with the verve, the elan that you should have. You want every night to
be special, and if it gets to the point where every night isn't special,
then you've been out too long.''

Sales of ''Up'' are ''OK,'' according to Bertis Downs, the band's
manager, with 2.5 million sold worldwide.

''It's about like U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and everybody else
right now,'' Downs said. ''This album takes a while to 'get' and maybe
people's attention spans aren't what they once were.''

This will be the first time R.E.M. has toured since Berry left, and when
asked if the band has coalesced as a threesome, the answer from both
Mills and Stipe was an unhesitating ''Yes.''

''It's great,'' said Stipe. ''We've got three musicians behind us --
(drummer) Joey Waronker (Beck), (guitarist) Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh
Fellows) and (instrumentalist) Ken Stringfellow (Posies). They support
us musically so the three of us are really able to do what we want. Mike
and Pete are able to play the instruments they want from song to song.

''As much as we can, we keep it fairly loose and unrehearsed as we
always have, and that makes it a lot more exciting for us,'' he said.
Mills agreed that being able to perform in new musical configurations
made the concert experiences much more exciting for him.

''If it's a song that I'm playing piano on, instead of bass like I've
done for 10 years, it's almost like having a new song because you have
to approach it differently and you're not just rehashing the same old
notes,'' he said, adding with a laugh, ''and it saves you the trouble of
writing a new song.''

Another first for this tour is that the band is offering fan club
members of good standing (as of Feb. 1) first dibs on two tickets to the
show of their choice. Since tickets for R.E.M. concerts sell out
quickly, this assures club members of a seat or two at a show.

And in keeping with the idea of making the tour as fun and interesting
as possible, R.E.M. is playing a number of different kinds of venues,
from outdoor amphitheaters in the South to the Vienna Opera House in

''Some are 60,000-70,000 people festivals and some of them are much
smaller,'' Stipe said. ''It's what we wanted to do. We didn't want to
just plug into a circuit of this size or that size. We wanted to mix it
up. It keeps it interesting for us and it makes every show an event.''

Since ''Up'' is the most heavily produced of any R.E.M. record, boasting
all sorts of bells and whistles in addition to the more regular
instrumentation, there is the question of how well the new songs have
been holding up in a live setting.

''The fact is, there are real, quantifiable songs underneath all that
noise,'' Mills said, ''and as long as you have that, they'll translate
live. If you had to, you could strip every R.E.M. song down to one
acoustic guitar.''

''And me!'' Stipe chimed in.

''Yes, and some guy singing,'' agreed Mills.

Both Mills and Stipe agreed that the band would be mixing old songs with
new during the tour, with the old songs getting new treatments and set
lists varying from night to night.

R.E.M. has made a point of including cities accessible to central and
eastern European countries on the tour. One of the promo shows the band
played recently was in Vienna, where fans came from Croatia, Serbia,
Poland and Hungary.

''Some of them rode the bus all day to get there,'' Downs said, ''and
rode home at midnight and were just delighted to be there. It was one of
the neatest things we've ever done.''

''We specifically went to Vienna on the promo tour because it is so
close to central and Eastern Europe,'' Mills said. ''It's fascinating. I
went over there to do some promo for 'New Adventures (In Hi-Fi)' and I
did a roundtable with journalists from Serbia, Croatia, Turkey, Hungary.
They never get to do that. They just never get to talk to anybody.''

''Nobody invites them,'' Stipe added.

''Because the markets aren't that big,'' Mills said, ''and they're like
'We want to talk to the Germans.'''

''But guess what?'' Stipe said. ''They've got radio stations, they've
got young people, they've got people who are interested in music and
want to find out what's going on.''

''That's why we did Vienna. Because they can't afford to fly so they
have to take the train or the bus to get there. So now we're gonna play
Budapest and East Berlin,'' Mills said.

Any plans for an Athens show?



17 -- Lisbon, Portugal
19 -- Madrid, Spain
20 -- Vigo, Spain
22 -- London
23 -- London
26 -- Essen, Germany
27 -- Frankfurt, Germany
29 -- Hannover, Germany
30 -- East Berlin, Germany


2 -- Roskilde Festival, Denmark
4 -- Werchter Festival, Belgium
5 -- Paris, France
6 -- Montreux, Switzerland
8 -- Vienna, Austria
9 -- Budapest, Hungary
11 -- Bologna, Italy
13 -- Munich, Germany
14 -- Zurich, Switzerland
16 -- Dublin, Ireland
17 -- Manchester, England
19 -- Stirling Castle, Scotland
20 -- Stirling Castle, Scotland


9 -- Los Angeles, Greek Theatre
10 -- Los Angeles, Greek Theatre
11 -- Irvine, Irvine Meadows
13 -- San Francisco, Shoreline Amphitheatre
15 -- Denver, Red Rocks Amphitheatre
17 -- San Antonio, Retama Park
19 -- St. Louis, Riverport Amphitheatre 
20 -- Chicago, The World 
21 -- Minneapolis, Midway Stadium
23 -- Clarkston, Pineknob
24 -- Toronto, Molson Amphitheatre
25 -- Cuyahoga, Blossum Music Center 
27 -- Raleigh, Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
29 -- Atlanta, Chastain Park Amphitheatre
30 -- Atlanta, Chastain Park Amphitheatre
31 -- Atlanta, Chastain Park Amphitheatre 


2 -- Seattle, Bumbershoot
4 -- Long Island, Jones Beach Theatre
5 -- Washington, D.C.
6 -- Holmdel, PNC Bank Arts Center

10 -- Camden, Blockbuster-Sony Music Entertainment Center
11 -- Mansfield, Great Woods Amphitheatre