R.E.M. had been planning their split since 2008.

The ‘Losing My Religion’ rockers – Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe – first thought about the end of the group while touring their album ‘Accelerator’ in 2008, almost three years before they officially broke up in September this year.

Speaking on ‘The Jo Whiley Music Show’ on UK TV channel Sky Arts, singer Michael said: “It was on the 2008 tour that each of us arrived at the same idea. We started to talk about it [splitting up] then.

“We thought we had come through a very low period. We were looking ahead and saying, ‘where do we go from here?’

“Each of us needed closure on what we have dedicated our entire adult lives to. We all wanted to make sure we did it the right way. We did it our way.

“There is immense pride is being able to own your lowest point. That is what we chose to do.”

The band were together for 31 years, and released 15 studio albums – including this year’s ‘Collapse Into Now’ – and Michael admits it feels strange to suddenly be without a group.

He added: “We started the band when I was 19 and suddenly my band has disbanded and I’m no longer under contract with a record company for the first time since I was 22.

“It was liberating. I felt excitement. Obviously, the biggest word that entered me, and has popped up, back and forth between the band members, is ‘bittersweet’.

“We were very careful about the way we made the announcement and we tried to keep it a secret. We managed not for it to leak out. We wanted our fans to find out directly from us and not from a weird tweet or some other dumb way.”