The Rock Report R.E.M.

The Rock Report keeps rock music fans posted on the latest. Check it out every Friday.

This week’s Rock Report focuses on the disbandment of R.E.M., the Foo Fighters’ counterattack on the picketing Westboro Baptist Church and the latest tour announcements. Also, we have an exclusive from Plain White T’s and much more in this week’s edition of the Rock Report.

R.E.M. Breaks Up

After impacting music heads for the past 31 years, multi-platinum rockers R.E.M. have finally decided to end their illustrious run. The Athens, Georgia-based alternative rock collective -- best known for their mega hits “Losing My Religion,” “Shiny Happy People” and “Everybody Hurts” -- announced their disbandment on Wednesday.

They released a joint statement concerning the break-up via their website REMHQ.com. "To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening."

The announcement comes just six and a half months after the release of their fifteenth studio album “Collapse Into Now.” Although the three remaining band members had a difficult time reaching this decision, they believe it is for the best.

"A wise man once said -- 'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it," front man Michael Stipe wrote on the band’s website. "I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way."

Plain White T’s

After a mostly relaxing summer, Plain White T’s are about to kick off their autumn headlining tour. RedBullUSA.com exclusively spoke to front man Tom Higgenson, who is eager to get off the couch and rock the mic again.

“We’re excited to get back on the road,” Higgenson says. “To be able to headline is a great feeling -- knowing everybody in the crowd is there for you, wants to see your show and hear your songs. That’s a great feeling and with this album, ‘Wonders Of The Younger,” it’s a bit of a departure for us musically and thematically. We have a bit of a production trying to re-enact some of the songs and the vibes of some of the songs on stage with lights and things like that. We’re super stoked to take the show on the road.”

Plain White T’s will be promoting their latest studio album “Wonders Of The Younger” and their lighthearted pop-rock single “Boomerang.”

While Higgenson had most of the summer off, the singer used his time wisely as he worked on new material for Plain White T’s next effort. “I’m always thinking and always writing. I got a few songs that I’m real excited about, so I’d say there are definitely a few songs that are written already that will be on the next album or EP -- whatever it is we do,” Higgenson explains. “As far as actually what that’s gonna be? I don’t know yet. We haven’t thought too deeply about it yet because we’re still pushing “Wonders Of The Younger” and focusing on what we’re doing now. So nothing yet but a bunch of great new songs. That’s all I know.”

Robert Randolph & The Family Band

Robert Randolph & The Family Band are bringing the tour experience directly to your home stereo system. On September 27, the funk rock group will release “Robert Randolph & The Family Band Live In Concert.” The 12-track collection, which was recorded on their most recent tour, features some of their biggest songs like “Squeeze” and “If I Had My Way.” It will also feature covers of Prince’s “Walk Don’t Walk,” “Earth Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”

The band will support the effort this fall as their headlining tour begins September 20 at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee, and concludes November 19 at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland.

Simple Plan

Simple Plan are about to embark on an upcoming autumn trek of their own as well. The ‘Addicted’ pop-punk collective launch the “Get Your Heart On! Tour,” which also shares the name of the band’s infectious fourth studio album, on October 28 at The Music Box in Los Angeles and wrap it up on November 29 at Best Buy Theater in New York. Forever The Sickest Kids, The Cab and Marianas Trench have been tapped as the opening acts.

Dave Grohl vs. Westboro Baptist Church

Dave Grohl is one rock star who refuses to be silenced, especially after he has his morning coffee. His latest target? Westboro Baptist Church.

The Fred Phelps-led congregation protested the Foo Fighters concert last weekend at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri because, as they put it, the rock band promotes “fornication, adultery, idolatry and fags.”

So as the Christian fundamentalists picketed across the street from the arena, Foo Fighters planned a counter attack. Dressed as truckers, they performed a country western song on a flatbed truck about their love for America and the country’s freedom. Check out the video below.

For more from Bear Frazer, follow him on Twitter.

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