Monday, October 10, 2016

Christine McVie on Fleetwood Mac: ‘Without one of us, we’re incomplete’

The singer on the band’s half-finished album, the visitation she had when writing Songbird, and growing up with a psychic mum.

by: Peter Robinson
The Guardian

Hi, Christine. What was it like growing up with the surname Perfect (1)?

It was difficult. Teachers would say: “I hope you live up to your name, Christine.” So, yes, it was tough. I used to joke that I was perfect until I married John.

Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage is being reissued as a box set for £50 (2). Does that seem like a fair price?

It’s a really nice item! It’s quality, isn’t it? It’s good value for money – you’ve got a lot of outtakes, a lot of previously unheard demo versions of songs, you’ve got the vinyl ... a CD, I believe, is in there? I mean it’s a nice package! I haven’t had a good look at it, but the label has given me one to take home. I get a free one!

Have you listened to the demos and outtakes?

No. I’m not a big fan of those things. I know people are interested but for my own personal enjoyment I prefer not to listen to them. My songwriting, when I’m writing, is nothing like it is in its finished form – but you have to start somewhere.

Is the new album finished?

No, it’s half-finished. It’s just seven tracks that we’ve got, and they’re only with guide vocals.

I’m sure I saw a news story about two years ago saying it was half-finished?

Well ... Yeah.

Is it the same half?

It is the same half. We’ve been doing a world tour! I’m going back in October to try and finish it. If it’s not finished by Christmas then I’ll go back after and finish it then. We do things in a weird way, I guess.

What’s your favourite of those new songs?

I don’t think we’ve given titles yet.

Would you like to now?

Er, no. I don’t think we’re supposed to. But I like them all, and that’s not a lie. We have a fantastic variety of songs and I’m very, very pleased with what’s happened so far.

Can we talk about Songbird? (3)

Yes, of course.


That was a strange little baby, that one. I woke up in the middle of the night and the song just came into my head. I got out of bed, played it on the little piano I have in my room, and sang it with no tape recorder. I sang it from beginning to end: everything. I can’t tell you quite how I felt; it was as if I’d been visited – it was a very spiritual thing. I was frightened to play it again in case I’d forgotten it. I called a producer first thing the next day and said, “I’ve got to put this song down right now.” I played it nervously, but I remembered it. Everyone just sat there and stared at me. I think they were all smoking opium or something in the control room (4). I’ve never had that happen to me since. Just the one visitation. It’s weird.

Have you inherited any of your mother’s psychic abilities?

Well, I believe they were real. She was a healer. I just wanted her to be an ordinary mum, so the less I knew of that side the better, but here’s a story I can tell you. There was an old friend of my dad’s, in Newcastle – this rich old lady who lived in a run-down castle. She had terminal cancer. She sent a pair of her kid gloves to my mother, who wore one during the night, and a couple of weeks later there was a phone call: the doctors were amazed that all the cancer was completely gone.

Did you psychically predict that I would ask you a couple of questions about your reissue before attempting to get information about the new album?

Aha! I did notice you sneaking those in. I was thinking, What’s he talking about? We’re supposed to be talking about – what’s it called? – Mirage.

It’s exciting when a band gets back together, though. Especially when elsewhere in pop you’ve got Abba, whose refusal to get on with it is bordering on trolling.

Why wouldn’t they get back together? I suppose they made all the money in the world – I mean, we’re not doing it for the money either – but I don’t know. Maybe the need for each other is not there. You see, I still think there’s a certain need for each other in our band. In a strange way. We’re umbilically tied together, somehow. Without one of us, we’re incomplete.

What’s your No 1 piece of house renovation advice? (5)

Well, I didn’t do it personally, but I oversaw it. It was a very old house; the beams had to be stripped. It’s subjective. Keep the wood beautiful, I suppose, but there’s so much I could say. That’s the worst question you could possibly ask.

Well, let’s see, shall we? Have you ever been missold PPI?

I just press delete on those texts.

You could have £20,000 sitting around!

I don’t believe any of those things. Anyone I don’t know, in my emails or texts, I just delete. If it’s someone legitimate they’ll send it again.

What are your favourite apps?

[Whips out iPhone in garishly decorated protective case] WhatsApp I adore. I use it all the time with my friends. I’ve got thousands of apps, and most of them I never use. Look at this! [Flicks though terrifying number of apps]

That’s quite an iPhone case, Christine. Did you stick those jewels on yourself?

It’s Dolce & Gabbana, dear!

It’s slightly alarming that you haven’t put any of your apps in folders.

Oh, I don’t do that. You’re talking to a complete phone moron. As long as I can make a phone call and do a WhatsApp, I’m fine. Oh, and I use it to learn a bit of Italian.

Would you like to conclude this interview in Italian?

Ciao, arrivederci. A presto!

(1) When still called Christine Perfect, Christine released an album called Christine Perfect. In 1984, as Christine McVie, she released an album called Christine McVie.

(2) Mirage was Fleetwood Mac’s 13th album. Released in 1982, it was seen as a return to poppier territory after the slightly-all-over-the-place Tusk. The remastered version – in expanded and deluxe editions – is out now on Rhino.

(3) Songbird was originally released as the B-side to Dreams, in 1977. Eva Cassidy had a bash at it a couple of decades later.

(4) Famous opium fans include word enthusiast Samuel Johnson, Piano Concerto No 2 In F Minor hitmaker Frederic Chopin, and US bigwig Thomas Jefferson, who used it to control diarrhoea.

(5) During her 16 years away from Fleetwood Mac, Christine renovated a massive, subsequently flogged Kent property. She now lives in London.


Anonymous said...

Funny... I actually thought the 16 years without Christine McVie were some of the BEST Fleetwood Mac years.Good for Stevie..She has carried them long enough.Time she devoted this time to her put off projects...

Robert said...

For anyone to think that the SIXTEEN YEARS without Christine were incredible - simply because they toured three times and released a mediocre album - is insane, especially considering what the band accomplished during Christine's tenure with the band from '72 - '87. Look how often Christine has mentioned how looooong they took off after the Tusk tour before recording Mirage, when in reality it was barely more than a year. And of course, Stevie was late to those sessions (Bella Donna) and then late to the Tango sessions (rehab). So Stevie's had a year off from the last Fleetwood Mac tour to do something - anything - and she's done *nothing*. Except sign on for her solo tour and then sign on for a tour in 2017 with FM. She could have used ANY of that time to record with FM - two months max is all she needs, we all know she has to spend the least amount of time in the studio. But she is holding onto a lot of resentment over Say You Will, since it wasn't a pleasant experience with Lindsey. Now she talks about how her ally is back, the peacemaker Christine, yadda yadda yadda, but then she says "Christine, I need all this time to my solo album." But she literally hasn't done a THING in 12 months. I know Christine's decision to rejoin was bad timing, as they had already completed a world tour. And I also think it's nuts that they instantly went back on the road. But for Stevie to play the victim all this time is so obnoxious. And I say this fully realizing Stevie is my favorite member of the band. But to say she has CARRIED them for 16 years is a laugh. They turned into a nostalgia project. Christine rejoining should have reinvigorated their creative process. Instead, Stevie hasn't set foot in a studio with Christine since it all went down THREE years ago. That's sad, and more than that, it's selfish.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I was surprised to see Stevie on Ellen and then angry when I heard that she is going on tour for the rest of 2016... good luck selling out those big arenas Stevie.

I wish Stevie would get back into the studio with Fleetwood Mac... heck John McVie isn't be around forever. I am sure Lindsey has continued to write and I hope Christine has too. I love all of Stevie's songs on Say you will.. Stevie's Fleetwood Mac songs are so much better than Stevie's solo songs. Thanks for the posting the Christine interview. I am glad Christine is back and I want to hear this new songs as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Robert's comments above completely. Well said.

Anonymous said...

I too agree with Robert's comment. FM could cease to exist overnight--as the Eagles ceased to exist with the death of Glenn Frey. A short solo tour is fine. But the lasting thing will be the recorded music, and I hope the five of them are able to release one last, full-fledged studio album before it's too late.

Unknown said...

I don't understand what all the negative speculation is about. They just finished a massive & highly successful world tour last December. I'm certain the promoters don't want them back out until late 2017 to assure the same or possibly bigger grosses. Everyone's getting older and most likely the next tour will be even more successful in terms of attendance. As a cultural icon and beloved vocal artist there is absolutely no way that Stevie Nicks will not participate in this next recording. For all we really know - she may have already bagged her parts and this is all just promotional pablum. Let's face it ~ none of them are fools. Plus they have all publicly stated that they are signed on for the next tour. That really means Stevie is on the tapes. Can't wait to see and hear them all again.

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