Don't call it a breakup, call it a disbanding, musician Michael Stipe explained to CNN's Shanon Cook on the end of R.E.M. as we knew them.
When the iconic and influential group announced in September that they were "calling it a day as a band," the Internet seemed to go into mourning, and Stipe says the blogosphere erupted with theories.
"Everyone has their opinion on when R.E.M. should have, or might should have, broken up, but we don't even call it breaking up, we disbanded," Stipe says. "Between the three of us, we kind of arrived at it at the same time...there's no animosity, there's no weirdness...we love each other, and have huge respect for each other. We reached a point where it didn't feel like it made sense to carry on any further, and we happened to do that at a very high point in a 31-year career of highs and lows."
But there's no getting around that this is "the end of the road as a touring and recording entity," adds Mike Mills, and "as far as creating more stuff."
They had to formally quit rather than just take a break, Mills said, because "If you do that, then you've got constant questions of when's your next record, your next tour, and in a way that would inhibit whatever it is we plan to do going forward."
Says Stipe, "For ourselves, I think we needed and wanted that closure and clarity."
The former members of R.E.M. don't know what they're going to do next, but fans shouldn't pin their hopes on a comeback tour.
"Never say never, but we're not going to do it," Stipe said at the thought of touring. "If we ever did, we would tell you exactly why, and it would be because one of us for some reason or other really needed money. But I don't see that happening. We're being really honest by saying it's over, we love each other, we love what we did, [but] it's done."