Although their most recent album 'Collapse Into Now' was just released in March, R.E.M. are already back at work, recording a new studio album in their home base of Athens, Georgia.

Frontman Michael Stipe is releasing updates in a unique way, via snapshots taken using a “stolen” iPhone owned by his longtime friend, former Sassy magazine founder and radio host Jane Pratt. Stipe's updates are being posted at Pratt's website xoJane as they come in.

At the time that 'Collapse Into Now' was released, guitarist Peter Buck indicated that the band would explore their options as free agents for their next album with their Warner Brothers recording contract coming to a close. He told Rolling Stone “we've talked about it a little bit,” but said “there's no rush.”

The vibrant 'Collapse Into Now' took shape rather quickly over 12 weeks and bassist Mike Mills said that most of the tracks were first and second takes, with the backing track for 'Walk It Back' coming from a rehearsal recording.

As always, there's no word regarding whether or not R.E.M. will tour for the possible new album. Mills explains the band's philosophy behind touring and says, “We don't tour to prop up records — that's not why we play live music. That's the thing about R.E.M. If we don't feel it, we don't go."

Currently, the band continues to revisit their I.R.S. Records output, giving the lavish double disc reissue treatment to 'Life's Rich Pageant,' which will be released as a 25th Anniversary edition on Tuesday (July 12), featuring 19 previously unreleased tracks. Stream the new release here and also check out a vintage interview from the era.

Watch R.E.M. Perform 'Cuyahoga'