Philadelphia Daily News (05/16/2003), Fleetwood Mac is on the long road back
Philadelphia Daily News, May 16, 2003
Fleetwood Mac is on long road back
What began as a solo album has become the latest incarnation of an ageless band
By JONATHAN TAKIFF
"If you can hang in, it's a long story," said Mick Fleetwood, when asked how Fleetwood Mac has gotten their show on the road again - with a new album ("Say You Will") and a tour bringing them to the First Union Center Monday.
Fifteen minutes later, Mick came up for air and I could ask a second question.
(Remind me never to ask the man what he had for lunch.)
Truth is, Fleetwood's a very diplomatic, courteous sort of band leader, who
wants to make sure every member gets the proper respect and due attention.
The percussive backbone of the organization also wants us to know that nothing this group does is taken on lightly, or merely for financial gain - as it is
with some other big-name groups he could name (but won't), "whose
membership can't really stand each other, who just go out because it's a
straight business arrangement. We've never been able to do that. We're only
doing this now because we know it works and because the band's happy doing it, which has not always been the case."
The long and short of it is that a new studio album had been simmering on the
back burner since the Mac last reconvened and toured in 1997 and put out a
concert album (updated with a few new numbers).
But in the long interim since, musical perfectionist Lindsey Buckingham had "buried himself in his garage," working on a solo album that eventually engaged the talents of Fleetwood and the "Mac" of the group - bassist John McVie.
"We went in there to help, thinking it would be a couple of weeks' work, because the material seemed so well-developed already. A year and two months later, we finally thought we were done."
With changes in leadership at AOL Time Warner, though, Buckingham's solo,
double-album project was evidently not received as well as he'd hoped.
Fleetwood somehow got Buckingham thinking about repurposing some of the
material as part of a more marketable Fleetwood Mac project. And the work
continued, now in a rented house in L.A., with Buckingham as engineer and
producer. ("We'll never record in a studio again," vows Fleetwood. "You save a fortune, and the atmosphere is so much more relaxed.")
Meanwhile, Stevie Nicks had gone through stresses of her own. She'd been out on tour with her aptly named "Trouble in Shangri-La" solo album when the
9/11 tragedy struck.
"She came off the road traumatized and exhausted," recalled Fleetwood.
"All the gigs after 9/11 had proven surreal, unreal. So she was glad to join us, to be sitting in a house in L.A., a calm, safe environment. We started integrating Stevie into what we were doing, then broke for Christmas."
During the break, Fleetwood continued, "Stevie saw the green light. She'd
seen we were working hard in her absence. She went home, vowed to herself, 'I'm going to write a song every week,' and came back with four new songs -
'Illume,' 'Say You Will,' 'Running through the Garden' and 'Silver Girl.' We loved them all, and took her contribution as a profound statement that the group really was back together."
All but Christine McVie.
The group's '97 tour had convinced her "she really didn't like the rigors of touring anymore," said Fleetwood.
Definitely of the stiff-upper-lip and soldier-on disposition, Mick Fleetwood and
fellow Brit John McVie (Christine's former husband) have kept Fleetwood Mac
going in one form or another since 1967.
"I can't think of the precise Chinese proverb, but it's one that has to do with patience," Fleetwood shared. "The reality is, both John and myself were never about getting out there, leaping on the microphone and singing the songs. The nature of what we do as a rhythm section is to say, 'Screw it, why break up the band when somebody leaves? Let's find somebody else and carry on.' That's an oversimplification, but it has something to do with the truth of keeping things going. There have been many changes, a lot of heartache, a lot of great times and life that has been lived through this band."
Present company very much included.
"We've learned not to press buttons in terms of Stevie and Lindsey's dynamic, which is certainly a delicate one," Fleetwood revealed. "As strange and estranged as these people have been, the basic truth is we know each other incredibly well and are emotionally attached, and that never disappears. There's a chemistry that will never leave us. That's why we're still plugged in, why it still feels good."
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