Expanding on the news of R.E.M.'s upcoming new album and world tour recently e-mailed to fans, out front-man Michael Stipe says the group is currently in the studio in the Bahamas. "The songs are just flowing out of us," he told Billboard.com. "We're working on 22 songs, and 15 or 16 of them are completed. Sometimes it's hard to squeak out 12 songs, but right now every time I sit down, something flies out of me." Among the cuts being targeted for the as-yet-untitled Warner Bros. set, which will be produced by the group with Pat McCarthy, are "Wanderlust," "Electron Blue," "Aftermath," and "Magnetic North." Added Stipe: "We'll finish the record in late spring, take a little bit of time off, and then start preparing for the tour, making videos and doing remixes."
Principal members Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Mike Mills have been joined in the studio by frequent collaborators Scott McCaughey and Ken Stringfellow as well as drummer Bill Rieflin, who toured with R.E.M. last year. Stipe says the tour will be "worldwide," starting in September and October. "It'll take us through Europe at least twice," he offers. "I'm really excited; last year really set us up for that. I think 'Perfect Square' shows the band's in really good form. We've found a great team of musicians to work with." Although the group's most recent studio set, 2000's Reveal, met with lukewarm reviews, Stipe insists he is "excited about what's coming up. I know what we've got up our sleeve, and I think people are really going to like it."