“Sometimes I think, 'What would John McVie do?' That’s how I wrote the bassline to Losing My Religion”: The secrets of R.E.M.’s Mike Mills

Mike Mills, left, and singer Michael Stipe of REM perform on stage at the Carver Hawkeye Arena in Ames, Iowa, March 10, 1989
Mike Mills and Michael Stipe of REM, 1989 (Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

It is 1991. For the last 11 years, four regular guys from Athens, Georgia, have been pumping out rough-edged songs with honest, earthy lyrics; after 14 albums, endless touring, and a steady rise in popularity, they're finally savoring success with the chart-topping Out Of Time

Bassist Mike Mills is crucial to R.E.M's organic sound: in addition to laying down a smooth, melodic bottom, he writes, plays keyboards, and sings – and he's done so throughout the band's tortuous trip to the top. 

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Karl Coryat was Deputy Editor of Bass Player magazine in the 1990s. In the 2000s, he wrote two music books: Guerrilla Home Recording and The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook, the latter with Nicholas Dobson. In 1996, he was a two-day champion on the television game show Jeopardy!. He works as a comedian and musician under the pseudonyms Edward (or Eddie) Current.