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Mac Daddy

by Megan Rowlands
Northeastern Pennsylvania
May 16th 2004


After 30 years of sex, drugs and rock n' roll, Mick Fleetwood says Fleetwood Mac has mellowed out. But that doesn't mean they're going back into hiding.

At 56 years old, Mick Fleetwood is feeling pretty good.

He's a family man again, the proud father of a set of bouncing, 2-year old twin girls; He's alive and healthy, a feat that, years ago, didn't always seem to be a given; And his band is back together again, playing to filled amphitheaters and sold-out crowds while performing the endless string of hits that made many critics hail Fleetwood Mac as one of the greatest pop/rock bands in the entire world. "Once you get back into the swing of things, it starts to fall into place." He pauses, contemplating further. "Although it does get quite hot up there sometimes."

In 2003, the legendary group reunited with four of the five members from its classic '70's lineup: Lindsay Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Although Christine McVie has retired her piano playing and soft singing voice that contributed hits like "Say That You Love Me," the four remaining members came together to form perhaps the most anticipated reunion in rock and roll history. The tour has been a surprise for some who openly wondered whether the members of Fleetwood Mac would ever set foot in the same room again after years of internal conflict within the band.

Calling from Jacksonville, Florida, the eighth stop of the tour's latest cross-country swing, Fleetwood contends that not only is his band back together, but that its members have no plans to part anytime soon. Last year the foursome got together to record its first studio effort in 16 years, "Say You Will." The album is something that Fleetwood says he always knew would happen; it was just a matter of when.

"Well, we had never really broken up. After we did the live album, "The Dance," in 1997, and then toured, it almost became a necessity to get back into the studio again," says Fleetwood in his thick British accent. "So we waited for awhile until we finally realized that Christine wasn't going to be back in the studio with us, and then we went in. At first it was just the three guys. Stevie was finishing up her solo tour and there was no Christine." The result of an elaborate MTV Unplugged production, "The Dance" prompted a hugely successful world-wide tour that saw the five members together again. The last time Fleetwood Mac had been in a studio together was in 1987 to record the mellow, soft-rocking "Tango in the Night."
At that time, tensions were high. The group hadn't written new material together in seven years. Some band members were riding the success of solo careers, while some were drowning in their failures. Some just decided they had enough altogether.

Perhaps that's understandable. In its first 12 years as a band, Fleetwood Mac was haunted by more internal demons than most bands could ever imagine. After suffering through band members' marriages, divorces and affairs, drug addiction and power struggles, Fleetwood Mac had seemed to run out of steam. Looking back, however, Fleetwood says that without those tough times, the band wouldn't have survived, literally, because they would have lacked the material to write about.

"It's important to be able to look at your past objectively," says Fleetwood. "I think a lot of people related to the things we wrote about, things that dealt with difficult times in your life. Drug culture was a very big part of the seventies, whether you were in a band or worked for a radio station or worked in a bank. A lot of our dirty laundry was aired in public, but we didn't try to hide anything."

Such dirty laundry inspired the 1977 multi-platinum album "Rumours," whose performances were fueled by the McVies' divorce and the Nicks-Buckingham split. The record spawned hits like "Go Your Own Way," "Dreams" and "Don't Stop." In addition to Buckingham's ability to write hit after hit, the press couldn't pry its eyes from the band's incredible love-hate relationship. Such consistent inconsistency, combined with a slew of mega-hits, helped build an empire of success and longevity. Fleetwood recalls the first time he realized he had hit on something big.

"For me it was even before Lindsay and Stevie joined. With the original lineup [including Fleetwood and John McVie, along with guitarists Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer] we had already seen success in England, but when (hit single) "Albatross" came out, it was huge. Then Lindsay and Stevie joined and Fleetwood Mac sold five million copies, and that was even bigger and crazier. Then, of course, "Rumours," which sold seventeen million copies, which at the time had sold more albums than any other album," Fleetwood says and then pauses.
"And then the rock and roll lifestyle began."

Fleetwood says that the method used to record "Say You Will" was a different experience for the band.
"In some ways, yes, [it picked up where Tango in the Night left off.] The same dynamic was there in the sense that we knew what we wanted to do, musically. But also Christine wasn't there. So it wasn't the same five people making the music they had made for so long. ["Say You Will"] is a much more personal album, " he says. "And Lindsay was producing for the first time. During his time away from the band, he learned it was something that he liked to do. Making this album made us realize that maybe we won't ever use a producer again. While that is unlikely, we know we can do that now."

Touring in 2004 for Fleetwood Mac is also much different than touring in, say, 1978, when the band was basking in the landslide success of "Rumours," which remains one of the ten best selling albums of all time. "Back then we were definitely living an excessive rock and roll lifestyle. Thankfully it's not like that on this tour. We're not burning the candle from both ends anymore. I don't think we'd be alive if we still were. The result is better performances for us and for everyone else."

Does being a family man have anything to do with mellowing out? Absolutely, says Fleetwood, who also has two daughters in their thirties.

Dealing with generation gaps should be no problem for Fleetwood as his band's catalog of music has transcended through decades. Fleetwood is comfortable with what Mac is now. "I don't think we'll have an album with success like "Rumours" had ever again. I'd love for that to happen, but I just don't think it will. We're not going to sit around and wait for a radio hit. Our fan base has been with us for a long time. They don't care about the radio hit or the MTV video. We are a live band, and we love for new people to come out and see us. We do what we know is right for us. We've always followed what we feel we should do, not what we think we should do. We've been lucky."

If the future of Fleetwood Mac ever seemed questionable, Fleetwood says he's convinced now more than ever that the answer is simple: There will be much more to come. "We'll tour for at least five to seven more years. And there'll be more albums, I'd like it to be sooner than later. There will definitely be more albums from Fleetwood Mac."

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