R.E.M.-and-be­yond gui­tar­man in his own words and by his own hand.

Mojo (UK) - - Contents - Peter Buck’s new band Filthy Friends re­lease In­vi­ta­tion, out now on Kill Rock Stars

As well as pre­sent­ing his Self-Por­trait im­age, the R.E.M. gui­tarist has wis­dom to im­part re­gard­ing op­ti­mism, em­bar­rass­ment and din­ing with John Paul Jones.

I’d de­scribe my­self as… cur­rently em­ployed, which is nice, as it’s been a while. Still un­man­age­able though, and un­know­able even to my­self. It’s a long life, I still have a lot to learn.

Mu­sic changed me… by com­pletely free­ing me. It was al­ways of ut­most im­por­tance. Even be­fore I heard The Bea­tles I lis­tened to the ra­dio or my dad’s Glenn Miller records. There was some­thing about it that touched some­thing in me that some peo­ple might have thought of as spir­i­tual. It’s been a great com­pan­ion, a way to deal with a lot of stuff. I’ll play gui­tar and write songs ev­ery day. Not to name drop, but I was hav­ing din­ner with John Paul Jones and he said, “No one ever asks me, ‘How many hours a day does mu­sic go through your head?’” And I said, “Pretty much ev­ery sec­ond you’re awake?” And he was like, “Yeah.”

When I’m not mak­ing mu­sic… I prob­a­bly walk two or three hours a day, and I read and I travel a lot.

My big­gest vice is… I don’t really be­lieve in vice. I’m not say­ing I’m a good per­son or a per­fect per­son but I don’t see any­thing that I do as a prob­lem. I prob­a­bly spend more time in my head than I should, but I think of all the hor­ri­ble things I could be do­ing with my time, and y’know, books and records and gui­tars, I still think of those as good things.

The last time I was em­bar­rassed was… daily? Hourly? Do­ing in­ter­views, be­ing em­bar­rassed by what I say or think is just part of my hu­man con­di­tion. On the other hand, I don’t ac­tu­ally give much of a shit in a lot of ways. I don’t worry about look­ing stupid be­cause I just as­sume that I’m gonna look stupid all the time any­way, so I just go with it.

My for­mal qual­i­fi­ca­tions are… a ‘B’ av­er­age de­gree from a hill­billy high school in Roswell, Ge­or­gia. And be­lieve me, that and a shovel


would al­low me to shovel shit any­where in Amer­ica.

The last time I cried was… when we had a death in the fam­ily a few weeks ago. It was se­ri­ous, dif­fer­ent from just tear­ing up from just sen­ti­men­tal things.

Vinyl, CD or MP3?… They’re all great. I take my iPod with me ev­ery­where, CDs in the car, I lis­ten to vinyl at home. There’s noth­ing better than a well­recorded mono 45.

My most trea­sured pos­ses­sion is… the black Rick­en­backer gui­tar I’ve used since 1981 on ev­ery sin­gle R.E.M. record and tour, and ev­ery ses­sion I’ve done, that’s the only phys­i­cal thing of own­er­ship that I would miss if it was gone. It got stolen on the last R.E.M. tour and we had to ran­som it back. I really didn’t like the idea of some creep-thief hold­ing it.

The best book I’ve read is… I read [Jack Ker­ouac’s] On The Road when I was 13 and I’m really glad I did, be­cause I’m not sure it would have had the same ef­fect on me if I’d have read it when I was 25. It was a huge, life chang­ing thing – I did hitch­hike round the coun­try when I was 18 and I still hop in a van and hit all the cities when we go on tour, so it must still be back there some­where.

Is the glass half-full or halfempty?… I deny the ex­is­tence of the glass. And that box ev­ery­body thinks out­side of? That doesn’t ex­ist ei­ther. I’m al­ways pre­pared for the worst and I was pleas­antly sur­prised at how well things turned out. I don’t know if that makes me an op­ti­mist or a pes­simist.

My great­est re­gret is… I don’t really have them. I only look back when I do in­ter­views, and I know I could have made my life eas­ier, but it all seems to make sense, y’know, so I wouldn’t go back and change any­thing.

When we die… I’m com­pletely pre­pared for a com­plete ces­sa­tion of ev­ery­thing.

I would like to be re­mem­bered as… I could really care less if ev­ery­one for­gets me the day I drop dead. But I guess, re­gard­ing my chil­dren and close friends, I’d like it to be like the end of Touch Of Evil, when Or­son Welles is float­ing down the sewer and Mar­lene Di­et­rich goes, “He was some kind of a man.”

Man in the car­toon: How Peter Buck sees him­self? Or is it un­know­able? (Be­low) Buck for real.

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