Goldmine (10/02/1992), Christine McVie
Goldmine, October 2, 1992
by Frank Harding
Goldmine: Youíve actually been involved with Fleetwood Mac since the very beginning. I believe you played on one of the bandís first singles, ďNeed Your Love So Bad.Ē
Christine McVie: Yeah, I always ended up doing sessions with them. I was a big idol of Fleetwood Mac anyway, I absolutely worshipped them. And so when I was in Chicken Shack and we had a night off I used to always find Andy Sylvester, the bass player in our band, and weíd go and check out their gigs. To me they were the ultimate in music that was going around at the time. I was introduced to Peter(Green) first of all, I think, and then I sat in with them on quite a few occasions. Actually, I think, mainly because I was the only blues pianist that they knew, that was immediately available to them. And I think they liked the way I played; Peter really like the way I played.
Goldmine: You played on Fleetwood Macís second album, Mr. Wonderful, in 1968, so you really have been there from the beginning.
Christine McVie: Yes, Iíve been there in all senses of the word, as a fan and being really honored to play along with them.
Goldmine: How did it feel to be part of Fleetwood Mac and take over from where Peter had left off?
Christine McVie: When I married John (McVie) I felt that it was so great to be around them anyway, just as one of their wives. I used to listen to all their music. When Peter did leave I was there, and when they rehearsed for the Kiln House album I knew the songs back to front. So when it came down to it they decided they wanted to augment the band with another instrument, because it was just not happening without Peter. So they just asked me, completely out of the blue, would I care to join the band, and of course I could have fell over backwards. Of course I said yes, immediately!
Goldmine: You contributed the Kiln House album cover artwork as well.
Christine McVie: I did that in a day, well actually, in a couple of hours. They were desperate for a cover, and I donít know quite how it ended up me doing it. I think Iíd done some drawings of things and Mick said, ďThis is really good, why donít you try and knock up a cover?Ē So I did. Fantasy land, Kiln House. Thatís what it was at the time.
Goldmine: You then worked with a series of great musicians. Tell us about Danny Kirwan.
Christine McVie: Well, Danny was a tough one. Weíre laying our cards on the table here, right? He was really, really neurotic and difficult to work with. I used to love the way he played guitar, but as a person, as an individual, I found him really difficult to get on with. He was one of those people that would never look you in the eye. Heíd always be crawling around kind of looking at you out of the corner of his eye, if at all. He didnít have any manners, and he was just very, very neurotic, and to be around him was a very nerve-racking thing. So he and I never actually wrote together at all.
Goldmine: Bob Welch?
Christine McVie: We wrote a lot together, me and Bob. Bob was always a tremendous conversationalist. He was the kind of guy that after dinner would sit down with a glass of wine and a huge cigar about the size of a billiard cue and tell these amazing stories. He was a wonderful story-teller with a terrific sense of humor, so he and I hit it off well. We collaborated on the Mystery To Me album, more so than any of the other albums.
Goldmine: You co-wrote ďDid You Ever Love MeĒ with Bob. That should have been a hit.
Christine McVie: I always thought that was a really good song. We didnít actually sit down at the piano and say what should we do here? I think I started it off, and he kind of added a bit in the studio-you know how things escalate in the studio-so it ended up being co-written. Thatís a song that never really surfaced anywhere. I think somebody should cover it, itís a sweet song and it somehow holds up today.
Goldmine: From when you joined the band to 1975, it was lean years for Fleetwood Mac singles-wise. Some of your songs remain hidden gems, like ďProve Your Love,Ē and ďWhy.Ē
Christine McVie: Yes. ďProve Your LoveĒ is a good one too. That was one I often wondered why it never became a hit. I think ďProve Your LoveĒ is a song Iíd actually like to re-record because listening back it sounds like a demo. I wasnít singing it very well and Iím sure I can do a better performance now, but the actual song I think was pretty good. ďWhy,Ē that was one of the songs that I used a Mellotron on. I think I bought the prototype, one of the first. It has a very low serial number, and I still have it. Iíd never heard anything like it, an instrumental that played choirs and strings, before. That was unheard of back then and so we kind of stuck that all over ďWhy.Ē
Mick had this huge bass drum at the top of the stairs at Benifolds that made this enormous noise, Ďcause there was no furniture in that huge house. That was a goody, nice slide playing from Bob Weston.
Goldmine: You are by far Fleetwood Macís leading hit songwriter. How do you see your role in the band?
Christine McVie: My role in this bandÖI let the songs speak for themselves. I guess Iíve never been one that would blow my own trumpet. I think the songs speak for themselves. I have never claimed to be a brilliant keyboard player. Iíve never claimed to be a brilliant singer. Iíve never claimed to be a brilliant songwriter either, if it comes right down to it, Iím not prolific. I donít write many songs, and the ones that I do write and complete I do because I like them. If I start something off thatís a dog, I dump it. I donít have banks and banks of songs that are gathering dust. Iíve got ideas on a bit of tape with a nice little riff that Iíll drag out, and go, okay, Iím going to make something of this. And for that reason I donít have many songs to give away. If I like them I want to do them myself.
Itís never been a situation where Iíve played songs for Mick or John or the band, where theyíve said, ďI donít really like that, Chris.Ē That hasnít happened very often. If itís happened itís enough times to only count on one hand.
Iím not a show biz type person and I sort of go through the years wondering why the hell I ever did get where I did get, in terms of the fact that Iím not a very extroverted type of person. I donít really enjoy the road very much. I used to enjoy playing live, once I was on stage, but now thatís got to the point where I just feel Iíve had enough of it.
Goldmine: That influenced your decision not to tour with Fleetwood Mac anymore?
Christine McVie: Mick and John are happy with me writing songs for the band at this particular point in time. I donít know whatís going to happen down the road a couple of years. This happened to me. I didnít go for this. For example, I ended up in a situation with Chricken Shack because I didnít have anything else to do, and I was bored, and I wasnít earning any money, I was broke. I enjoyed playing the blues, once I figured out how to play them, after Iíd bought enough records and copied a few licks off Sonny Thompson.
Goldmine: You had a major hit with ďIíd Rather Go BlindĒ and then left Chicken Shack.
Christine McVie: Thatís right, and thatís when I won the Melody Maker award for vocalist of the year.
Goldmine: You won that award two years running and another more unusual accolade. You were voted in a major newspaper as having one of the top 10 pairs of legs in Britain.
Christine McVie: (After much laughter) I think theyíve improved since then, they used to be rather chubby!
Goldmine: Youíve been recording new songs, for the Anthology set. How are you enjoying being back In the studio?
Christine McVie: Well, this has been tremendous. Iíd never met Patrick Leonard (the producer) before we started doing this project, and I know who heís worked with before and heís done some fantastic work, but Iím really happy with what Heís doing. He seems to have got into the Fleetwood Mac brain. He really understands. You can hear this, to me itís sounding really hot.
Goldmine: When you say the Fleetwood Mac brain, do you mean the Lindsey, Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat production area?
Christine McVie: No, itís more than that. Itís an entity that exists between us. Mickís in there, Johnís there, Itís the kind of amoeba thing that is impossible to describe. There is no way of defining the sound but it seems that Patrick knows that sound, he feels it, which is great.
Goldmine: So itís a very good experience for you coming into the studio this time.
Christine McVie: It is, because having not been produced by anyone except Lindsey, the last album with Greg Ladanyi an exception, itís fun to come into the studio. This guy works so fast as well, itís unbelievable, really. So at the moment Iím really happy, and I hope that we have some ongoing relationship with Patrick, I think heís great.
Goldmine: Would you ever consider doing some more solo work?
Christine McVie: Yes, I am, Iím definitely going to do another solo project down the line some time, But first of all I think thereís another Fleetwood Mac studio album to do, after this boxed set, some time next year. Iím not in a hurry to do the solo project. Iíve got to be ready for that. Iíve got too much domestic hoo-ha going on at the moment. Iíve got a house in England Iím restoring and I need time. I have got to have a lot of songs, and you need to be committed for a good six months to a year, to get the material together. I need to be, I hate to use that Ď92 word, focused, but thatís the word.
Goldmine: Whatís the difference between you and Stevie [Nicks]?
Christine McVie: Stevie was always a lot more visible. She has this sort of personality which is conducive to that. She enjoys all the accolades, she enjoys the attention, sheís at the front of the stage, she adorns herself in stuff, she does it and commands a lot more attention that someone like myself, that has always been, or tends to have been back with John and Mick as a rhythm person in the band. I donít take wild organ solos and things like that. The guitar players do all the solo work in Fleetwood Mac. I just kick back with John and keep the rhythm and pulse going, the glue. I keep good time and make minimal mistakes on the chords. Iím back there with John and Mick.
Goldmine: Do you prefer to remain quietly in the background?
Christine McVie: I do. In fact when I have to come out and do something like ďWorld TurningĒ Iím going, must I, really?
Goldmine: So you try to shy away from the stardom side?
Christine McVie: Yes.
Goldmine: Within Fleetwood Mac you have been responsible for writing the majority of the hits. You canít shy away from that.
Christine McVie: Well, I am very proud of that, and I love singing, itís a source of constant pleasure to me. And when I listen to those songs I realize thatís been my life, really. Stack those records together, and thatís really all Iíve done. And there it is to listen to. Itís not as much as some people have done, and itís more than others, but itís me.
Goldmine: How did you enjoy working with Lindsey [Buckingham]? Was there a special bond there?
Christine McVie: I donít think so as people. As musicians, yes, I think that he respected me as a musician, and I certainly respected him as a musician. We werenít close friends. You couldnít say that. I mean, Lindseyís not really close friends with anybody.
I particularly like the Tango In The Night album, I think that was a superb record, and I particularly liked what Lindsey and I wrote together, There again we didnít sit down at a piano and decide the chords together, and that kind of thing. It was a rolling motion , where Iíd start something off, and heíd carry on, or heíd start something off and Iíd suggest an idea. So it ended up being far more of a collaboration than had existed in the past, and I enjoyed that because I think he had great ideas. But you know, enough said on that.
Thanks to macfan57 for posting this to the Ledge.
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