1976 Laura Gross 'Backbeat Interview' with all 5 members of Fleetwood Mac, shortly before the release of 'Rumours'.
This was a VERY difficult interview to transcribe!! There is a lot of laughing, talking over each other, interrupting, etc...but I tried to catch as many comments as I could. I think this is a great interview, filled with many moments of tension, laughter, and honesty. In my opinion, Laura Gross has always done a wonderful job interviewing the members of Fleetwood Mac and 'drawing them out'. Hope you enjoy this, the first of several interviews she ever did with the band. To my knowledge, this is the only one she ever did with all five members present. - Lis Adelson
LG: Welcome to Backbeat, this is Laura Elkiss Gross, and I'm very happy to have as my guests this week Fleetwood Mac. We're in the Record Plant studio and I'll let them introduce themselves now starting with--?
M: Hi, I'm Mick.
L: Hi, I'm Lindsey.
J: (cough and a sputter)
M: That *was* John....(chuckling)
S: I'm Stevie--
C: --and I'm Christine.
LG: Thank you-- all of you! And you just finished an album, right? Tonight? What do you want to say about it?
C: First of all we haven't actually *finished* it really; we finished the cutting of it, now we have to mix it. That will take roughly 3 weeks, we hope.
LG: How do you feel about what you've got so far? The raw material?
LG: Yeah? Everybody else?
M: It's not raw, it's finished.
C: It's finished but it's not *mixed*, that's what I mean, yeah.
L: Final touches.
LG: Well how could you say you've grown since the last album of FMac and this album that you're now in the process of making?
M: umm, well, I suppose the band's got a lot used to playing together, being on the road. The last album was very different; we rehearsed for 10 days before we made it. This one obviously, we've been together for a year and a half- so that is most definitely a very different atmosphere musically.
LG: How do you feel the music has changed, itself, could you describe that? ...Or is that too hard?
L: It's hard to be objective after 9 months of -- we've been working on this for a long time-- bringing--
LG: Don't be objective.
L: -a lot of things into it...
LG: Be *subjective*.
LG: How do you really feel?? I mean the music has grown-- you say you've been together now as a unit for much longer,and worked together on the road-- and how will that reflect in the music?
C: I think that if you want a very *loose* comparison to the last album, the white album, this album's a lot warmer, for sure. The last one was made at a time when the band hadn't actually *played* together before, it was very much a studio album. But obviously, like, since then we've done so many concerts in the last 18 months with each other, and also working on this album for such a long time that it definitely ends up being warmer-- you couldn't say what the *musical* changes are. It's a very subtle thing.
LG: You've been on the road now along time-- how do you feel as alive until? How have the changes been for you in that way?
C: ....a live unit??
LG: Like as a band, a live unit as opposed to in the studio?
M: We're dead.
J: John McVie is living proof that there is life after death. (laughter)
LG: As a *dead* unit.... :-) Onstage--
M: We're finished.
C: We're washed up on the beach.
LG; Yeah this is a nice eulogy for FMac. We want to say it was very nice! Well-- you just got back from a tour of England. How was the tour of England?
M: it wasn't a tour, we went over to do some press and radio interviews.
LG: Oh, you didn't play.
M: No, we didn't play. We're going to play later on. And they really hadn't seen or heard of the band as of 5 years ago when the band was a very big band in England, in Europe.
J: Pretty different band.
J: Between the sounds.
M: Yeah, Totally different line up than the band is now. And- that was done-- and we came back.
LG: Well, let's talk about the changes that you've been through, cause you that it was 5 years ago that you were so different, and reading your bio, it's been like you change partners in dance. How do you feel about that, as say, an *older* member? And then the newer members, you know, how do you relate to that?
M: Well, for an older member-- that's me--
C: Definitely an older member, yes.
J: You look pretty good though, Mick!
LG: For 95, yeah!
M: It's just more of a way of life, really, it's been nearly 11 years, just w/ this band.... and I've hated every minute of it! (laughter) It's been a creeping process of people in and out of FMac through the years, and after the first few changes, you're not really aware of the trauma, other than you're continuing with what you wanna do, and you find some people to-- that identify w/ the band.
LG: Does it get easier to play or harder to play, when there's someone there who's new?
M: I think often it can be easier, cause it's usually more entertaining and less boring than it might have become playing w/ someone like John, who played with for 10 years...(laughter)
J: Yeah, I've been meaning to talk to you about that....
M: So in that way, it's a god energy, a spark off situation.
LG: How do you feel, Stevie and Lindsey, as relatively new members?
S: Old! :-)
C: You gotta understand, you caught us in a pretty punchy situation, we've been up for 10 hours..
LG: Oh yeah, that's OK! Sure!
M: It's just uh, something that's worked out really well.
LG: How did you feel coming into a band that was already established, to a certain degree, and then going through the changed with, you know, people who were already in the line up?
S: it was very....interesting....:-) I don't *know*!
LG: Was it easy for you, musically?
C: It was 'interesting'! Stevie, how non-committal of you! :-)
S: Um, yeah! (laughing w/ Chris)
C: It was *very* interesting!
S: I'm going back to university next month! (lots of laughter)
LG: I read a quote that you said that this album is going to be like Peyton Place for FMac. Did I read that right?
S: I never said that, but you might have read it! :-)
M: More (??) of the Rumours!
S: People are saying a lot of things!
J: Well that was-- the quote was, 'It's gonna be like Mary Hartman on wax.'
S: *John* said it!
C: That's *why* we call it Rumours.
LG: Is that what it's called, Rumours?
L: I just wanted to say, one thing that's different about this album is that it's, uh..
J: It's very personal.
L: It's all like--it's all about things that have happened in the last year, and it all comes across more like that.
LG: Will it be easy for people to understand, who are not involved, or is it more an inside message?
C: umm, I don't think it's an inside-
S: I think everybody knows anyway....so..
LG: All right we're talking about then, like the families that, y'know, play together, break up?
LG: I mean, how do you feel about *that*? Did the pressures of the road cause the splits?
S: (in a little voice) Look what it did to us! :-)
C: Yeah, really! Well, we're *all* here-
J: Oh, shut up, you cow! (yikes, hard not to cringe here! The band laughs loudly.) (In hushed voice-) I swear, the whole thing was, you're *always* trying to get into *every* conversation! Could you shut up? (nervous band laughter)
C: Just stop drinking for once, will you?
J: I've *tried*, you fuckin' drive me *to* it!
S: ALL right..! (chuckling nervously)
J: Look...(saying something I can't understand)
L: (firmly) John! Can you try to be a little more civil?
C: Yeah, John, will you cool it?! No, you *need* to, yeah, we're on the radio.
M: We're running out of tape!
LG: Yeah right! No, really! (much tense laughter) So you mean that ...the art, the pressures of art..kind of....
C: Well, somehow--
J: 'Art transcends emotion'?
LG: Right! That's what I'm trying to spit out.
J: Uhh-- no. (laughter)
LG: So do you feel that the pressures of art make it impossible for a family or a couple to maintain--
S: Pretty impossible.
J: Obviously if you're working in a group situation in a rock and roll band, which is a very tight cliquey little circle of people that travel around the world and they do their gigs--if you happen to be closely associated-- like married or living with someone-- that's a 24 hour a day thing.
S: That's no privacy, no time to breathe...
J: There's no *space*, and every relationship needs space.
LG: But you all feel--
C: It's a pretty unnatural-
S: There is NO space on the road, you're ALL in the hotel.
C: That's why I'm sitting next to Stevie! Notice we're not sitting next to each other.
J: I just got married to Mick. (much laughter)
S: I love it!
LG: So you feel the album will reflect the changes you've been through personally?
J: Yeah, cause it was done at a time when the changes-
S: --were being done to us!
J: --were still pretty fresh, and the changes were still happening.
LG: Is it easy to go on the road, seriously, with somebody that you've been that close to and maintain-- I mean, you have to have a personal relationship beyond--
S: No, it's not easy.
LG: It's not easy. There's a lot of pressure involved.
S: A lot.
J: Yeah, it's...
L: (sounding very perky) It *can* be easy. It's getting easier.
LG: Yeah. I think of myself, if I was going with somebody-- it doesn't matter if I couldn't stand the guy anymore-- if I saw him with a girl I'd freak out. It's just such a natural thing that you still feel those jealousies and those hang ups, even when mentally you're saying 'That's over', emotionally you're hanging on to....'that was mine' .
J: Yeah. That *is* very true.
S: Usually when you break up with someone, you *don't* see them the next day and the next day and the next day...
M: After awhile you just get used to it.
LG: Yeah, that's true, when you do break up with somebody you have that time away, where you can just go 'Alright, 2 weeks to go in the bedroom and close the door and die'-- and then you come out-- reincarnated..
J: You need two weeks to die? (laughter)
C: And then come *out*? :-)
LG: Slow death...?
LG: What's happening as far as the road plans in the future? Upcoming road plans?
C: OK, Mick-- Seedy Management...
L: Break out the timetable, Mick. (long silence)
C: That's going to be a big--edit.
M: The big edit! The album hopefully-- it's gonna be released December 28th, and we're going out five weeks after.
LG: That's America?
LG: How do you feel about the tour you just finished, about the response? In August I saw you, we saw you, and I thought , *we* thought, you were terrific.
C: We felt great about it.
S: I thought you were gonna say, "We WERE terrific!" :-) (they are all sort of talking over each other here.)
C: We *were* terrific!
LG: Were you terrific?! :-)
C: We were very excited about it.
J: We were very tight.
S: Very terrific.
C: I think it was one of the *easier* gigs and *easier* tours of our entire career because we treated ourselves to a little prop job airplane-- it was *ours*, we chartered it-- and it definitely made life a lot easier on the road to be able to not go on commercial airlines, and just leave when you want, and it took off some of the pressures. And like, the gigs themselves were great, we had a lot of good gigs.
LG: Yeah, I saw you at the amphitheater. I noticed you--I did a show a show on you on the 29th, on the albums and the musical history of the group, and I put it out after the 29th and I called it the Halloween Special. You have sort of a mystical air, especially onstage. Is that meant to be? Do you know *why* it happens?
S: Are you talking to me? (chuckling)
LG: Anybody! You're the one who does the most of it.
S: It was never planned. That's just-- I am romantic enough of a person to sink into that- edge of it, yeah, I enjoy it, I really like mystical stuff.
LG: Yeah, it just gives off that way-- not like 'oooo, weird', but just a strange kind of magical-- so I made it into the Halloween Special!
S: Thank you! Halloween is my favorite holiday!
LG: It's mine too, I dressed up as a witch, I was really horrible. uh...I was gonna ask you also, comparing the studio experience to the stage experience-- how do you think they compare and which do you prefer? (long pause)
M: There's five of us here. I think probably you'd get a different answer from each person.
M: I enjoy a lot being onstage.
M: ummm-- just the physical outlet of it, really.
C: The *rush*, as well.
M: Doing it a bit-- (?) -- not playing for awhile...*making* the album is fine, but the point we are now, we're actually--well, I have stopped playing for months, where--from that point it's not good to go through that big trip.
L: I think it's necessary to have both, really.
L: The ideal musical situation is to be able to record, and a lot of times in the studio is where you make new-- you get new growth, things- and you expand your ideas and you cement new concepts and hopefully be able to improve, through your job.
LG: How much do you rely on audience reaction to *make* the show in a live situation?
C: oooh, very much!
L: The audience IS the show!
C: I would think that once you *know* that everything's in tune, and once you *know* all of your equipment is working perfectly, the vibe then comes-- it's like a, it's like a ricochet w/ the audience-- you feel from the audience, they feed from you..
L: You can't separate the two.
L: The show is the audience and the band together.
S: It's a cycle.
L: Sometimes you think you play great onstage and the audience is, y'know.... (claps weakly) There's not that much correlation between-
LG: So then it's not really a good show to you? Even if you feel you played great, but they're kinda like 'uhhh'....
J: Well, yeah, cause if the end result is if you get a..(few sad claps)
S: Then you're not quite as excited about the next song.
J: If you really feel you played well--
J: -of course you're gonna be-- it's gonna be a downer.
C: Yeah. There've been a few concerts like that-
L: We didn't have to contend with--
C: --where we come offstage and it's 'Oh, I don't understand it, I think we played good tonight--'
J: And the whole mystery of FMac is-
M: You get spoiled by-- really enjoying incredible audiences that make it very easy for you enjoy yourself--
C: Because *they* want to enjoy themselves.
M: Sometimes the fact of the matter is, you're *paid* to go up onstage and let people have a really good time!
J and C: Yeah!
M: And if you get used to an audience making it very easy-- occasionally, which in a way is *good* for me personally, that you might not just have everything just as you're used to, and you suddenly realize that maybe you do have to put a bit more effort into it.
LG: How do you respond to it then? What effort can you put into it to make them come alive?
M: Oh, you *can*, if you feel it slippin' away-
L: There is--
M: --You'll soon pull it out of the bag!
J: There is no greater rush, or feeling, for me, than to be onstage and you're working and it's getting off and you're bouncing off--- say me and Lindsey are bouncing off, or a performance with me and Bob Welch-- you're bouncing off, or me and Mick-- and at the end of it, (talk-sings) 'dadadada- bom.' -and you know you've done the best you can....
J: --and you receive that energy in-- it's--that's what it's all about.
LG: Do you ever get a chance to meet any fans? Do you have like a big fan following, like a personal fan following? Or is that..
S: Not that much, I don't think. If we do, we don't know about it!
M: Nah...it's pretty insulated on the road-- we're not completely blocked off, it's no different now-- it IS a little bit different--
J: It's not a 'groupie' band.
M: There's never been any huge trip round backstage, or finding it incredibly hard to get out of a concert for us. You meet a lot of people but not whole huge bundle of people-- I think people come and then enjoy themselves.
LG: Which I think is really more healthy. I really do.
C: Oh yeah. I mean, there's no fanatical kind of a vibe.
M: An unattainable vibe, I think.
LG: Yeah, they're more into the music than-- I always get the feeling from this band, it's not like uh...the only thing I can think of right now is the Beatles, where there's somebody always around, waiting to take a picture--y'know, I get the feeling that your feedback from your audience is mostly based on your art, which I think is really a much healthier thing for both people involved.
M: I think as a band we *rely* on that rapport with an audience rather than--lots of bands-- this is neither good nor band, it's just how this band works, I think--
other bands that have incredible production where you just sit back and you're in awe of the whole thing, whatever it is....we definitely rely on getting a really good feeling between the band and an audience. Whatever comes with lights and backdrops-- fundamentally that is definitely secondary.
LG: Terrific. Yeah. You were talking earlier, Lindsey, how in the studio you create, expand-- am I right, you all write songs? yes?
M: All but me and John.
J: I write bass songs.
LG: OK...so-- can each of you who do describe the process that you go through emotionally and physically and mentally when you're in the creative process?
C: Who wants to go first?
L: It's very involved, really....
C: Yeah, I don't think that I-- I couldn't even pigeonhole, like, the way that I write songs, because I might write one song one song and write another song a totally *different* way!
C: Y'know, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? I mean you might find some chords that are really nice one day and find the words later, or you might figure some good words and put a song to them. As far as I'm concerned, I mean, I've never been one of those songwriters that spout songs frequently, I don't *write* a lot of songs, really.
LG: Is it hard for you? When it comes does it just *grab* you and fall out?
C: No, it's not *that* hard for me because I think it stores up in me, y'know, where I really feel the *need* to write some songs, and, uh....
LG: I mean, some people go through different things, and it's a good thing to talk about, I think- because some people feel almost sick, it's like,"I have to throw up and just get it OUT', and then some people are really inspired and work madly, and other people can go very methodically and slowly.
LG: But what you go through-- y;know, I think your whole mind, I think, and body kind of changes at that time.
C: Um, well, I never really never really looked at it that way- it's- as far as I'm concerned it's-- and a lot of writers would obviously feel differently--is when an album is coming up, I know that I've got to sit down and write some songs, and because of the pressure of knowing that the album is coming closer, I sort of *enjoy* the pressure of it.
C: I mean, up until this point, I have to say that--y'know we've been living over here without much--as far as myself- without much outlet, there was never any *keyboards* or pianos around in apartments where I've lived. I mean right *now* I'll be having a piano at my house soon-- that'll be the first time since I've lived in America that I've really had a keyboard to play on, in my own *leisure* time, y'know? And uh...maybe I'll start writing more then.
LG: Good luck.
J: Out of all of the band-- of the writers, y'know-- Stevie's probably the most prolific writer.
LG: How about you, Stevie?
S: I couldn't even begin to answer that question. Yes, all those things that you said do go on with me, for sure, but it would take hours for me to go into that.
S: Yeah, it's very heavy for me, very heavy. The most heaviest thing I do is write songs.
LG: So it's a really total emotional and physical involvement then? OK. And Lindsey?
L: Well....uummm... (long pause)
J: Enough! :-)
L: Well, I dunno, I'm just more-- I've been, in the past, more concerned with like, tracks doing-- y'know, getting a lot of my concern with my songs, and with other, Stevie's, whatever, is like getting the actual arrangements in the studio, to really try to make them as unique as possible. And I feel like now I've got more songs kinda- least half done *now* than I did when we started doing this last album that we just finished. So like I feel like I'm getting more and more creative now, and getting more in touch with um, y'know, with just--feelings--
C: Well, when *you* write a song, you have an absolute total concept of how you want it to sound.
L: Yeah! Like, in my head-
C: I mean you have a very strong studio kind of--
C: You know exactly when you *write* a song, what you're going for, you know what I mean?
J: (can't figure out what he says...)
LG: The bass line and, you mean all the component parts?
C: Well not the bass line per se, but just-- just--
J: The feel.
C: The feel. I mean, that's what I mean about your songs, you have a concept, a *total* concept of what you want them to sound like, y'know?
LG: It's not like playing on the guitar and letting it grow....
C: Well, like, when *I* write a song on the piano, y'know, I mean, *anything* goes.
C: I've got the chords and the feel, the arrangement and the-- I don't have preconceived ideas about guitar parts and-- (to Lindsey) which is where you take over, y'know?
LG: You said you try your hardest to make everything unique for the band. What makes FMac unique?
L: Well-- I dunno, I think it's-- there's three strong writers in the band, there's probably the best rhythm-
C: Rhythm section.
L: --section around, uh...there's, uh-
J: The combination of voices is....
L: Just the combination of *people*--
J: --Chris' voice is strong but soft....Stevie's voice--
C: 'Stroft', you mean? :-) (laughter)
LG: That's good!
J: Stevie's voice, which can be either way, and Lindsey's....and that whole *blend* is...it's a magic blend.
LG: How about, aside from personal factors, being a mixed band as far as having women and men? That's very rare.
L: Yeah!! (laughter)
LG: Oh, nononono!!!
C: The (?) Minstrels...
L: Yeah right! Heart?!
LG: Well, it's a--
J: (In an American accent, with some derogatory tone) *Heart*.
L: (in same tone) Heart!
LG: Well, I think in America, you are the most successful band that has men and women in it, OK?
LG: So let's take it from there!
M: Back all-- (can't make it out..)
LG: Right. I mean, how does that combination work for you?
S: I think it's mellower than an all- a more *masculine* band, that had all men...
J: Yeah. Exactly.
S: You know what I mean? If there's all men traveling--
S: --There's a lot more women from the outside involved, and there's a lot more partying and there's a lot more.. but because-
S: Yeah, a lot more decadence!! But because we all did start out as this big couple, y'know, um, and then as that y'know, sort of smoothed away--um--*still* nobody-
J: (incredulously) *Smoothed*? *Smoothed* away?
S: *Well*, you know what I mean--
M: *Roughed* away, honey! (laughter)
S: Well, you know, it's sort of like a precedent was set the first year of the band, that this is not a party band, y'know?
C: It's a very family band, actually.
S: Yes, we just go right home after the concerts-- and that isn't to say that nothing *ever* happens- (laughter) --but it just is, y'know, because it isn't all guys.
LG: So that adds to, like, the feel of the whole band, then, the fact that it's a combination of women and men?
M: I don't think about it, to be quite honest.
S: They'd be a lot- they'd be a lot tighter-
C: You don't have to sit down and *think* about it-
J: Of *course* you gotta think about it! Y'know, the (??) scene alone has about 2000 miles on it!
M: Y'know, the fact that there's women in the band....
LG: But it- I wonder if it-
C: The fact that there's what? I'm sorry....
M: Women in the band. To me-
C: No, to me, I--
J: I don't even think of you as *women*! (LOL! I don't think anyone caught this!)
L: Music transcends sex.
C: Oh boy. Statement of the night!
LG: Yeah, right--
L: Not to mean *sex*. I mean, in that sense of real people.
LG: I mean, I wonder if this has anything to do with the success of the band, that combination...(laughter)
S: Lindsey, John and Mick would be pretty boring out there alone!! :-)
J: aaaaahh! We're the *band*!
C: You caught us in a very punchy state actually, ok, ten hours in the studio..
LG: I'm always hoping that when people are listening to the shows they're laughing hysterically at least half of the time!
C: Oh God, they'll probably turn it off on you.
LG: NO! (laughter)
M: In fact, I'm *sure* they do.
J: They probably feel sorry for us.
LG: You don't have to feel sorry for the listeners--everybody's smiling even though they're tired!
J: Is there sex after death...?
LG: What's gonna happen in the future for FMac? What do you see?
L: Well, we'll be in the studio tomorrow.
LG: And the day after tomorrow?
J: We'll be in the studio.
S: We have a new president!
C: We're gonna have Christmas day off, I believe...
J: I'm gonna start eatin' peanuts. (laughter)
L: Seriously, we're gonna take three months off--
C: We are??
S: We are??
L: ---and then we're gonna go on the road...two months off....
J: We are?!
M: Not now.
C: It's been the (??) in ten days....
M: As of five days ago-
J: (sarcastically) We go on the road tomorrow!
M: There's three months off-
M:--as soon as we finish the album.
L: So we have two and a half months off, that's alright....
M: Then we start rehearsing.
L: *Two* months.
M: Then we go out on the road and go to Europe.
LG: Are you looking forward to that whole Europe and that whole trip?
M: Not about Europe, really--
C: ooo-well, y'know, actually I love Paris....I love Munich, I love Vienna...
J: Well, you should ask everybody individually.
LG: You know what, I'm....
S: She got it.
LG: I mean, you've got five people, you can't-- everybody can't feel the same way.
C: Well, it's a *good* job, really. It'd be pretty boring if we all thought the same thing.
J: We just came back from, uh, England.
L: This guy keeps walking off with my uh, (??) lizard. (I have no clue why he said this....)
LG: And you felt that uh..Mick said you weren't playing there-- that was a joke, right??
J: No, we played, yeah...we had interviews and the media...doin' maybe two concerts in London..
L: We're beat.
M: --and various countries in Europe.
LG: Will it be an awe inspiring audience for you because they're *newer* for you, as this band?
M: No, uh...
C: I love American audiences, myself.
M: Psychologically for the band *here*, when we go out to do a tour, right now we *know* pretty much, without being complacent about it, that there are gonna be people there to see us.
M: People that know about the band and *listen* to the band...In Europe, pretty much-- at the moment, it's improving, thank goodness--umm, that isn't the case. We might be having a few empty halls here and there....and maybe not!
J: We're talking of that too much...empty halls as...
M: I'm just saying the possibility is *there*.
C: As what?
J: That's his... reaction..(? very hard to make out)
L: (in French?) Au vere?
M: They're used to the band from a long time ago..
L: (in accented voice) "That's Peter Green?" (laughs)
M:--it's what they remembered.
M: Hopefully not.
LG: I was looking through an old magazine, '68, and it had a big spread on FMac, which was 8 years ago...
LG: Y'know, so obviously it was very big then. It was an old English magazine.
C: FMac was *massive* in Europe.
M: Yeah, I mean-
C: It was a *huge* band. That was before *I* joined! (laughs)
M: They remember the name, but they haven't listened to the music in a few years.
LG: So you're not sure what the response is gonna be?
M: Well, that's what we're gonna find out!
LG: Well, it's kind of exciting to find out. I hope it goes well! Is there anything that anybody would like to say that I didn't ask you about? (long silence...)
C: Thank you for coming here tonight, and..
J: I hope the peanut king makes it.
LG: (laughs) Well, thank you all for being with us on Backbeat.
C: Thank *you* very much!
LG: We've been enjoying the album that we've been playing all through the evening, and it's really been a pleasure having all of you!
L: Thanks you very much.
C: Thank *you*!
J: Maybe you can make some sense out of it.
LG: Good night. Now we can make a-- all you have to do is say, "Hi, this is..dadada...."
C: Can you write it down? Cause, you know, we're *terrible* at this!
M: I don't wanna do it.
J: (over weird piano music) Hi, this is John McVie from Fleetwood Mac-- (long pause!) --reminding you to listen to Backbeat every Friday at 9 PM... KCSN.
LG: (pause) Why don't you do it once more?
1976-01-01 Number of views: