November 5 [7:55 EDT] -- While a good bit of R.E.M.'s future is full of question marks after drummer Bill Berry left the band last week, there are a few things that the group knows about what lies ahead.
MTV News' Chris Connelly went to Athens, Georgia to speak with the band last Friday when the news broke, and the group said they already have plans for their next album.
R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe told MTV News, "We've got 38 or 40 songs that are in a very, kinda proto-embryonic stage of development and I'm really excited to work on this for the next three months and go into the studio in February and hopefully tour when the record comes out. I really want to do that. [600k QuickTime]
"There will never be a fourth member of R.E.M.," Stipe added, reiterating the band's position on finding a "replacement" for Berry. "We
just can't replace Bill, we have no desire to. That's that. [350k QuickTime] R.E.M. is now a three piece, but yeah, we'll bring people in. I mean we're not gonna get up there and do acoustic stuff. That's kinda boring."
"And of course when we tour we're gonna need a drummer, but this is not a request for tapes. Do not send tapes," bassist Mike Mills noted.
Berry and R.E.M. announced the move last Thursday, with the drummer saying, "I'm at a point in my life where some of my priorities have shifted. I loved my seventeen years with R.E.M. but I'm ready to reflect, assess, and move on to a different phase of my life."