This interview was originally published as the feature cover story for Music Connection Vol. XIII, No. 1 Jan.9-Jan. 22, 1989.
In 1975, when Fleetwood Mac entered the studio to begin recording a new studio album, no one could have predicted the massive success that this veteran English band would soon achieve. Following a ten-year, checkered history of changing personnel, which frequently left the band minus key members and a music direction, founding fathers Mick Fleetwood and John McVie recruited a little-known singer-songwriting duo, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Nick’s bewitching musical persona and Buckingham’s guitar and arrangement talents, coupled with the earlier addition of Christine Perfect (later Mrs. McVie), gave this band all the chemistry and direction it needed. The resulting album, simply titled Fleetwood Mac, spawned the hit singles, “Rhiannon,” “Say You Love Me,” and “Over My Head,” and catapulted a band with a limited sales base into a multi-platinum hit machine.
In the years that followed, the band solidified its superstar status with 1977’s Rumours LP (an incredible twenty million copies sold worldwide); survived the traumatic breakup of two romances within the band – Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, and John and Christie McVie; dabbled in experimentation with the ambitious, 1979 two-record set Tusk; and recorded the lackluster 1982 LP Mirage that had critics and fans wondering if the band had finally run out of creative steam.
But rumors of the band’s demise proved premature. In 1987, after a five-year layoff, Fleetwood Mac released the excellent Tango In The Night, an album that re-established the band both commercially and artistically. That was the good news. The bad news was Lindsey Buckingham, whose production and instrumental skills had so greatly contributed to their success, would be leaving the Mac fold. Undaunted, the band recruited two musicians, guitarist/vocalists Rick Vito and Billy Brunette, to fill the Buckingham void.
Now, with the release of their current greatest hits LP, Fleetwood Mac spears to be taking stock of its platinum past and looking forward to its future. The album is a reminder of past glories – “Rhiannon,” “Don’t Stop,” “Dreams,” and “Go Your Own Way” – and a harbinger of things to come, with two new tracks, “As Long As You Follow” (the album’s first single) and “No Questions Asked,” featuring the band’s new guitar lineup. We recently spoke to the two first ladies of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, about the band’s past, present and future.
MC: Tell me about the new Fleetwood Mac. What’s different and unique about Fleetwood Mac as we’re seeing you now?
SN: That it’s still together.
MC: Why release a greatest hits album now?
CM: Well, we’ve thought about doing a greatest hits album in the past, but we’ve never actually got around to making that decision. Because Lindsey left the band, it seemed like a very appropriate time to do a collection of stuff from the past, along with a couple of songs from right now.
MC: So along with the old hits, you’ve given your fans an indication of the future. Why choose to debut your new lineup on a collection of songs from the past?
SN: After playing on the road for four and a half months, we felt that we needed to go in and spend a little time in the studio. And it wasn’t like we were going in for 13 months to redecorate a studio or completely change our lives. We were going to do two specific songs, and we were under the pressure of time. It was disciplined, and we had a lot of fun doing it. You walk out of the studio feeling like you’ve done something besides just giving people the old songs that they love. You’ve given them something new from your heart.
MC: Greatest hits collections not only give the record-buying public a nice overview of an artist’s career, it also gives the artist a chance to look back on his or her own career and assess it. Are there any songs that you “rediscovered” when assembling the tracks?
CM: Well, hearing them back to back like that is very refreshing. I mean, I think that we’re pretty familiar with most of the songs on the album, most of which we play live. But I think it’s just listening to them in that particular running order that made it really fun. It spans twelve years or something. It’s really interesting.
MC: “As Long As You Follow” is the first single. It was written by you, Christine and…
CM: Andy my husband, Eddy. It’s yet another love song. It’s just something which I relate to, have always related to – telling different stories about relationships.
MC: You’re not known as a collaborator; that’s something which has happened more in the last few years. How is it writing with your husband?
CM: It’s fun. We like it. If we didn’t, we’d be in big trouble. I go through phases where I like writing with people, then I can’t stand to be around someone when trying to work out a song. But at the moment it’s fun collaborating – because you get the bonus of two heads instead of one.
MC: This is the first time in the studio with this configuration. How was it different?
SN: Nobody argues.
MC: What else? You’ve got two guitarists now; that’s different.
SN: That’s wonderful. That allows both guitar players to play what they do best. It means that all guitar parts on the record we’ve done over the last ten years can be reproduced. When you only have one guitarist, there’s something lacking because there’s a lot of parts not being played.