Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fleetwood Mac unleashes a barrage of opinions

With tour looming, Fleetwood Mac unleashes a barrage of opinions

by: Len Righi

The members of Fleetwood Mac have been known to go their own way, and during a 94-minute teleconference today, band members offered a variety of explanations about why their first tour in four years is being called "Unleashed."

"It's unleashing the furies, unleashing us back into the universe, unleashing an amazing musical entity back into the world," said always ethereal singer Stevie Nicks. "You might have to wear your armor."

Drummer Mick Fleetwood said the tour name was inspired by a comedic "mantra" uttered before Mac live shows on an earlier tour: "Every gig before we would walk on stage, one of our guitarists had this thing he'd say, 'Unleash the hounds! Unleash the hounds!' ... I was remembering that little mantra [when coming up with the tour name] ... It's about not being restricted. ... 'This is us, let us go out and do it.' It's not really that complicated."

"Stevie [Nicks] and I had a go-round on this," said usually reticent bassist John McVie. "I don’t think there was any thought of us being stifled or held back."

The 44-city greatest-hits tour, which begins on March 1 in Pittsburgh, will stop at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on April 15. Tickets are $49.50, $79.50 and $149.50. But people trying to buy tickets through Ticketmaster have been re-directed to a site that charges between $240 and $1,065 apiece.

When it was my turn to pose a question, I asked if the musicians if they were aware of the ticket scalping. The generally cordial exchange grew tense. Singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham said the practice "was a pretty typical thing," adding that "Irving Azoff was quoted in the paper as being against that" and that Azoff, who is part of Fleetwood Mac's management team, "will make sure that kind of thing didn’t happen."

Things got a little more uncomfortable with a follow-up question from a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter. In light of the bad economy, why did Fleetwood Mac raise the top ticket price to $150, compared to $125 four years ago?

Nicks replied that touring now costs "a gazillion dollars more than four years ago." The last time out, she said, the band and its entire entourage flew in a 738 jet. This time, only band members will be flying in a Gulfstream 400 business jet becausd of fuel and rental costs. "Everybody else will be on the bus," Nicks said. "We wish we didn’t have to charge anything. I wish we could just play. ... But you can be sure that the people [being interviewed] on the phone will be making phone calls after we hang up" to find out what is going on with ticket prices.

Fleetwood said the band is "somewhat informed, but not fully informed. ... We're trying to do this the best way that makes sense for our audience. ... We are more than aware the people around us are doing their uppermost to make this a possibility."

This being Fleetwood Mac, there also was talk of the combustible personalities that have fueled both the band's music and tabloid columns. For the moment, there seems to be harmony.

"Lindsey's been in incredibly good humor since we started rehearsing on the 5th of January," Nicks reported. "When Lindsey’s in a good humor, everybody’s happy. Our only problem is that our rehersal time has been messed with a little bit" by family matters.

Added Buckingham: "Knowing that we did not succeed as well as we could have last time we did an album and tour together and on a personal level ... we have something to shoot for that is a little higher. ... We are a group of contradictions ... [but] the whole being greater than the sum of its parts."

Buckingham also said at another point, "Unity is waiting in the wings."

While the tour set list has not been finalized, "Dreams," "Go Your Own Way" and "Don’t Stop" will be performed, said Fleetwood, along with "special songs that aren’t considered massive hits but are emotionally connected with Fleetwood Mac."

Going on the road without a new album to promote "frees you up to enjoy each other as people," said Buckingham. "Let’s have a good time and value the friendships and history ... It takes the pressure off ... and allows more fun than we would normally be able to have."

In conjunction with the tour, Fleetwood Mac's Grammy-winning 1977 album, "Rumors," will be re-issued as part of a special CD/DVD boxed set with uneleased tracks recorded during the making of "Rumors," as well as a DVD with never-before-seen footage of the band.

The album reflected the turmoil of the previous two years -- Fleetwood separated from his wife Jenny; so did McVie and keyboardist-singer Christine McVie and Buckingham and Nicks, although all five remained in the band.

Asked if the re-release might re-open new wounds, Buckingham replied, "Even though we were drawing on our own experiences, I don’t believe the songs on 'Rumors' were so starkly autobiographical. ... It was three writers cross-dialoging with each other. ... The tabloid (quality) of it was only revealed to us by our audience after the fact. ... [Now] you tend to see the irony in the songs ... the heroicism we possessed. We saw ... the music had redemptive power and could be a symbol for other people. The whole struggle had a meaning to it that was symbolic."

Since its original release, "Rumors" has racked up 30 million in sales. Buckingham said he expects the re-issue will sell about 100,000 copies, "maybe."

Here are other comments on various topics
made during the interview:

Fleetwood on the possibility of recording a new Fleetwood Mac album:
"My heart believes that all will happen."

Nicks on Christine McVie's continued retirement:
"I’ve been the only girl in Fleetwood Mac since 1998, so I’m used to it now. ... But I miss Christine ... The loss of Christine as one of my best girlfriends was horrific to me ... Not a day goes by that I don’t wish she would call up and say, 'I’m back.' "

Nicks on working as a solo artist versus playing in a band:
"When you’re in a band, you’re not the boss. ... You’re part of a team. ... Do I like not being the boss? No, I really do like being the boss ... After 11 solo albums, you get used to being the boss." But she enjoys being in a band, too. "It's good to be knocked down a little like that. ... It makes you think a little more. ... It makes you humble.

Nicks on when she will record her next solo album:
"Not for a long time. When I am in one relationship, I am not in another one. ... I’m a fragile old grandmother at this point, even though I don’t have grandchildren. I need to stay focused on one thing....

Fleetwood on U2:
"They were an Irish pop band that made all the right moves ... [The group's success] makes me feel good about the music business ... because they are able to do what they do with some sense of integrity."

Nicks on whether she expected to be playing rock 'n' roll when she was 60:
"The answer to that would be yes. I joined Fleetwood Mac when I was 28. I went on tour with my normal street clothes, we didn't have any money. It was a three-month thing. I opened my suitcase and found out I had gained five pounds. I sat down and started to draw an outfit. I said to myself I am going to have a uniform I can wear it today and wear it at 60. I remember it like it was yesterday."

(Thank you to Heroes Are Hard To Find for the heads-up on this article)

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