Rock Daily (06/09/2003), Where There's a Will
Rock Daily, June 9 2003
Where There's a Will . . .
The turmoil within Fleetwood Mac around the time of Rumours -- the band's smash 1977 album that more or less chronicles the romantic breakups of John and Christine McVie, as well as of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks -- is the stuff of rock legend. The story of Buckingham and Nicks rejoining Mac co-founders John McVie and Mick Fleetwood to record Fleetwood Mac's new studio album, Say You Will, appears to be on its way to becoming a tale for the ages, too.
Buckingham became the first member to leave Fleetwood Mac's most successful lineup, departing after 1987's Tango in the Night. The singer-guitarist's return to the fold in early 1993 to perform at President Bill Clinton's inauguration proved to be just a momentary fling, and by the end of 1995, singer-keyboardist Christine McVie and singer Nicks also had exited the band.
Then came a full-fledged re-formation in 1997 for an MTV special that resulted in the concert album The Dance and a full-scale tour. For The Dance, Buckingham included a few new songs that were intended for a new solo album, which would have been his first since 1992's Out of the Cradle.
Buckingham eventually holed up in his garage to work on the solo project, reportedly intended to be a two-disc set, and enlisted the services of drummer Fleetwood and bassist John McVie. As they continued to plug away on the material, Buckingham learned that there wasn't much label interest in an album under his name.
Their focus then changed toward making it a proper Fleetwood Mac disc. And with that change came a new working location (a rented house in Los Angeles) and the recruitment of Nicks, who was about to head out on a tour supporting her 2001 solo album, Trouble in Shangri-La. Nicks submitted a slew of demos of songs for her bandmates to embellish while she was on the road, then put her full energies into the project after finishing the solo jaunt. A complete reunion of the Mac's Rumours-era lineup was not to be, however, as Christine McVie decided to retire from the group after making minor contributions to the disc.
Say You Will, the end result of the return of Buckingham and Nicks to Fleetwood Mac, was released in April. The 18-track album sold more than 200,000 copies in its first week of release -- good enough for a No. 3 debut on the Billboard 200. The band began a major North American tour May 7 with a two-plus hour show in Columbus, Ohio, mixing in past hits and rarely performed material with songs from Say You Will, including the disc's first single, "Peacekeeper." The trek currently is scheduled through a July 26 concert in Auburn, Wash., but additional dates will be announced soon. An overseas jaunt is expected to follow the stateside gigs.
Fleetwood and Buckingham recently sat down to talk about the creative steps that resulted in the new album, the current tour, Christine McVie's departure and the origin of the latest single.
Everybody Helps Out
Mick Fleetwood: Very rarely has any of the writing essence of Fleetwood Mac really collaborated in the initial stages of those songs. The collaboration certainly happens within the nature of it being projected as a band with the various stylings of the players, etc. But the actual writing has always been very separate . . . It was business as usual the way [Say You Will] was put together in terms of bringing songs from separate places. It's the way the songs are done . . . that becomes the collaboration. In this instance, Lindsey produced the lion's share of this album -- really pretty much in total -- as [well as handling] the engineering. So, it's a very personal album.
Lindsey is looking forward, is upbeat and, hopefully, if we all behave and do the right things and enjoy it, which seemingly is the case, we'd love to see -- me and Lindsey -- more Fleetwood Mac music. And at that point, Lindsey is consciously already talking about, 'Wouldn't it be great if we actually write some stuff together?' really, probably for the first time in many ways.
"Christine [McVie] has truly left Fleetwood Mac. I find it very unlikely whether there would ever be a change in that in the future." -- Mick FleetwoodNever Coming Back Again?
MF: Christine is not a part of this album or the tour. And in truth, when people say, 'What is the position there?' the position, in my mind, is Christine has truly left Fleetwood Mac. I find it very unlikely whether there would ever be a change in that in the future. There's no doubt that she's so much part of the legacy of the band, and it was sad to see her go, and we sort of thought that she was going to be doing something. The [two] songs that she's on [that are] on this album ('Bleed To Love Her' and 'Steal Your Heart Away') -- she participated in that process prior to her knowledge that [they] were going to be Fleetwood Mac songs. That was when me and Lindsey were working together on those songs, [and that] goes back to a five-, six-year period. We've asked her [about her contributions], and she said, 'Oh yeah, leave me on there.'
Say You Love It
MF: The important thing [is] that we've done something new, and it's fresh and challenging. What I would like people to come away with is a sense that -- especially an older listener and hopefully new ones, too -- is that there's a character that they know, but the play is a very different play, and that's what I hope people warm to. My feeling is that because there's a lot of material on here . . . there's a balance that we've created and spent a lot of time fretting about, where we're able to push those barriers and still have the comfort of feeling that a listener will say, 'I'm in friendly territory, but I'm going on an excursion.'
Touring Their Own Way
MF: Forty [concert] dates [probably will lead to] 120 . . . we're committed for the long haul, and we hope we [can tour the world], if we're politically safe and savvy and everything else. A lot of that is somewhat contingent on how the album does in going overseas . . . To take this show out on the road is expensive, it just is -- carrying all the stuff that we tour with and the way we tour -- and our decision really is if there's business there . . . it's important to reach out to those markets and play there, but only to a point. At this point in our lives and our careers . . . we don't want to go out and work horribly hard, physically, at re-promoting the band. It really is fairly contingent -- if the album does great and it creates the demand to go there, then of course we'd love to do that. My sense is that certainly in Europe we will be doing that. Whether we go to Timbuktu and Australia and everywhere else like the [Rolling] Stones do, I don't know.
The Links in the Chain
Lindsey Buckingham: [Fleetwood] and I started off cutting tracks before The Dance album came out. Because of our being together, that really was a catalyst for The Dance. So, that was put on the shelf. When I came back to work on it and to finish it, by the time I was ready to turn it in, Warner Bros. was in somewhat of a state of turmoil -- having just been bought by [America Online]. All the people that we had had relationships with for quite some time were ready to leave. They all had their severance packages in their pockets. It didn't seem like it was going to be the right thing to do. It was kind of a waiting game. First of all, we had to figure out what to do. [Fleetwood] and I talked about at least providing some options, and we got a house and started working on some songs of [Nicks'] with the intention of morphing it into a Fleetwood Mac album if everything worked out. There was a period of time after we started working where it still was not clear whether that would be the case. We never felt that it wouldn't work out on a musical level; it was just really whether all of us would feel comfortable . . . It took [Nicks] getting off the road and realizing that what we were doing was important and her going back to Phoenix and writing four new songs. At that point, it really became clear that the solo material would work itself into being something larger.
"We were all doing the best playing of our lives on [Say You Will]." -- Lindsey BuckinghamMusicianship Rules
LB: [With Christine McVie not writing material for this album, you had] two people now who [faced] each other directly as writers -- as [Nicks and I] always did -- but [without] a softening agent in between, which was Christine. The singing approach becomes a little more reminiscent of those days [when Nicks and I performed as a duo], and certainly the dynamic in terms of the creative process becomes more reminiscent, as well. It gives us a whole sense of where we could go in a more pure sense of two-part harmony and building things from the ground up, which obviously we didn't do with this album. And in terms of the musicianship of the three players, it became a much more muscular kind of thing because there was more space to maneuver. The drumming is much more aggressive and the guitar playing -- we were all doing the best playing of our lives on this.
Walking a Thin Line
LB: I was working in a house that we were renting at the time -- my wife and I -- about three years ago, [when 'Peacekeeper'] was written. It was looking at the world just in terms of how we've become increasingly desensitized to how brutal the world is. How in many ways it makes it easier to be brutal. It turns on itself. It's looking at the nature of peace. It's an illusion to think that there can be a static condition that we will eventually arrive at that is peace. But you have to just maintain a set of values that elevates the idea of peace in order to work towards that, even if you fail sometimes. There's so little of that in the world now. That's what the song was talking about. The reason it was chosen for the first single, it wasn't really my choice. There were people over there at Warner Bros. who just saw it as something which, stylistically, was walking the line between being quite modern and quite familiar. In many ways, they were shooting high in terms of where they thought it could be placed on radio and, actually, we are in what someone has called uncharted waters in terms of being able to achieve the kind of visibility on radio that the song has been able to get. Someone had the right idea.
Thanks to Pip for posting this to the Ledge.
2003-06-09 Number of views: