Tired Pony, a supergroup? ‘We’re like insurance salesmen’
REM’s Peter Buck, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and others have come together to record a second album as Tired Pony, where, Buck says, record sales aren’t a priority
Buck has history with Ireland. REM were hugely popular here. Clonsilla’s Luttrellstown Castle was rented out in September 1994 (and used primarily as a base for European promotional duties for their album Monster) and, in 2008, the band undertook the live rehearsal of their Accelerate album over several shows at Dublin’s Olympia theatre.
With REM no longer an operational unit, we presume that being freed of such ties is something of a gift.
“It goes without saying that I’m extremely proud and happy with my years in REM,” Buck says in what doesn’t sound like insincerity. “I love those guys, and we keep in touch regularly, but there is something really nice in not having an album hanging over your head. And I can keep things in perspective, too.
“REM was part of my life, but I’m doing other things now. I have a short attention span, anyway, and so I enjoy working piecemeal with people – you know, one week here, 10 days there, a few hours here and there. I can stay put or move around a lot, and that suits me. This month alone, I’ll be working on four albums, so it’s totally liberating for me to wake up in the morning, and know that I can do whatever I want.”
Barely contained glee
There’s a level of barely contained glee in Buck’s voice when he says that his 2012 self-titled debut solo album sold a mere 6,000 copies.
“It came on vinyl only,” he says, giggles not far off, “on a tiny record label that doesn’t bother sending out promo copies or anything like that. As far as I know it was never played on the kind of radio stations that play REM. Now that’s liberating.”
Buck admits to immodest gratification when he knew that, with the right REM album and with luck on the band’s side, about 10 million copies could fly out of record shops. “Those kind of sales will happen only very rarely these days. If ever again – and that’s fine with me. Why should I worry?”
So there’s no sense from even the smallest part of the business side of your brain that commercial sales are important? “You have to remember that REM was really lucky – we were around at a time when we could have hits, and so you could sell 50 million records over a number of years. For me, that’s the best of both worlds – knowing that, and then getting royalty payments during a time now when we don’t sell 50 million albums.”
Buck is on the way to making his second solo album, and he will apply the same strategies he used for the first one.
“I’ll pay everyone really well. It’ll sell about 6,000 copies. It’ll be really fun to do, and I’ll be doing exactly what I want to do. It’s the same thing with the Tired Pony albums; no one is saying to us they want a hit single. It’s more what do we want to accomplish. Pride in our work, that’s what.”
Tired Pony’s The Ghost of the Mountain is released by Fiction/Universal