What are your thoughts on the decision to formally disband after all this time?
It feels to me that they decided to stop as a band when it made sense for them to do so. They felt like they had a great run, a great career, and they wanted to stop when they did as opposed to just going through the motions, which can easily happen.
I admire it as a very mature decision, a very thoughtful and considered decision, and obviously we are still sort of figuring out what's next. That's not at all conclusive, just because nobody really knows.
Now that the band is no longer actively recording or touring, what will you do?
There is still a lot happening. They obviously have a large catalog of music. There is still work to do on the business end. They continue to be in business together. They are not active, meaning they are not making new records, but there are still decisions to be made about songs and catalog licensing rights. So there is going to be a category of work that's still not as busy but there will still be work to be done.
Editor's note: Initially, this article about R.E.M. business manager and lawyer Bertis E. Downs IV, Taking care of business for R.E.M., mistakenly said, due to an editing error, that Downs served in the U.S. Navy. The article should have said that the interviewer, Shawn Bratton, served in the Navy. This article now reflects the correction.