Today is Mike Mill’s birthday.
I will always owe Mike a debt of gratitude due to the fact that he is responsible for me meeting my wife. Amy and a girlfriend of Mike’s were in UCLA Animation School together.
This picture is of Mike in Vancouver. I took it during the second to the last week of what was the first recording session for Accelerate. I believe at the moment I took this we were hearing “Mr. Richards” for the first time.
That playback was terrifying. I went to Vancouver with the two other big R.E.M. friends and fans I worked with and before hand we discussed what we’d do if what we heard sucked. It wasn’t an idle concern either, as the last R.E.M. record edged toward suckage.
When Jacknife Lee started playing “Living Well is the Best Revenge” straight from Pro Tools, we all texted each other “phew” and then texted Michael, who wasn’t in town.
Mike and Peter were in the room with us, and while Peter was twitching in the back, watching us, Mills was right in the sweet spot of the room, eyes closed and listening. He is the most musically educated of the three, and as he heard things out of place, or things he wanted to redo, he’d write notes for the producer.
Later in the day we watched him as he recorded tracks for Until the Day is Done, including his piano parts and fretless bass. He was fast, quick tempered, perfectionist and accommodating in equal measure. At the end of the recording he listened again, nodded and we went to dinner, where I spilled red wine all over him at one point.
Happy Birthday Mike!