Hit Parader, August, 1977

A Talk With Christine McVie
by Lisa Robinson

If you hadn't known their last LP had been on the charts for more than a year, sold four million copies, and their new album went Top Ten several weeks after its release last month, you would know that Fleetwood Mac is a success if you saw their office suite housed in the old Columbia Pictures building in downtown Hollywood.

But Christine McVie was unpretentious in blue jeans as she sat on the floor of those offices and talked quietly about the band that she's been with for the past seven years.

"I don't really know what the chemistry is between us," she said thoughtfully, "I think if we knew the answer to that then Fleetwood Mac wouldn't be the enigma that it seems to be.

"It is a very compatible relationship personally. We all have respect and love for each other, and a lot of love for each other's music. I think that's all that any band could ask for, to have that mutual respect."

The mutual respect didn't come without problems. The personal relationships -- and breakups -- within the band have been well-documented. Bassist John McVie and Christine, and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks both broke up respective eight, and seven year relationships at the peak of Fleetwood Mac's success.

Apparently, you can hear all about it on the new LP, appropriately titled, Rumours.

"We wrote all those songs during the time that the weirdness was flying around," Christine admitted. "And yes, there's definitely a statement in there, reflections on what happened to us."

How did they manage to keep the group together?

"That's where this love and respect thing came in, because we each knew we had other people to think about. And we couldn't turn our backs on the kind of success we were enjoying. But it was pretty sticky for a long time.

"Most people, when they separate, don't see each other. But we were on the road and in the studio, so we were separated, and seeing each other every day and working together. We were just forced to work it out.

"It seemed to work for us, though. John and I came out of it understanding each other and communicating a lot better than we did when we were together."

In addition to personal changes, Fleetwood Mac has gone through personnel changes during its lifetime that has seen several guitarists come and go. But it was the recent addition of Buckingham and Nicks that helped the band make that big step to success.

"What I can't understand, especially when we're in England, is that people keep on asking us about Peter Green (founding member and guitarist who left the band some time ago). It's a bit of a shame, because the Fleetwood Mac that is now, and the Fleetwood Mac that has been ever since Peter left, has been more successful. Especially in the States. When Peter left the band. a lot of people went, 'Ahh...forget Fleetwood Mac...because Peter Green was Fleetwood Mac'. That kind of thing. Over here they haven't had that attitude, and they were a lot nicer about it and figured that the music was good, and so Fleetwood Mac just carried on to greater and greater heights.

"Of course the music changed when Lindsey and Stevie came into the group, because it was two songwriters joining the band, not just musicians. In this particular instance, they write very much the way I write, and we became a tightly-knit and cohesive unit. It wasn't just the band backing me with my songs, or the band backing Lindsey with his songs. It's five people working together, and each song comes off as a Fleetwood Mac song.

"When they joined the band, it broadened our spectrum to an almost limitless degree, you know. We haven't even begun to explore the possibilities left for us yet."

It seems a bit odd that with all the bigtime success the group has had, Fleetwood Mac still handles their own business affairs. "We wouldn't want anybody else," claims Christine, emphatically. "We're doing very well on our own, thank you very much. Our success only started when we got rid of all the leechy managers.

"Mick knows everything that a good manager knows anyway. He has good intuition, good timing about things. I suppose the things that prospective managers would tell us would be the usual old bull, that we don't have the time because we have to concentrate on the music...But none of us want that."

For this major tour, Fleetwood Mac will be on for much of the year and Christine's stage set-up will be slightly different, (already reported in a previous issue of Hit Parader).

"They're rigging it up so that my Hammond is re-cased and I can be seen better from that point of view, instead of having a big, huge sort of coffin-like thing in front of me. And some kind of titled stage thing. It never really bothered me, though. It seemed to bother everybody else, but it never bothered me. I always primarily regard myself as a musician, and not as a 'lady entertainer.' So I'm usually just too absorbed, too much to think about up there to worry about whether or not I'm being seen."

Did Fleetwood Mac know that the last album would be such a hit?

"Well, I think we knew we had a hot property, but I didn't think we had any idea as to the magnimosity of it. We thought it would go gold, but we didn't think it would sell four million...or whatever it sold. But then it became increasingly obvious, and then that delight developed another feeling for each other--that we really pulled it off, and that was wonderful.

"I don't think we had any doubts about topping the last one. We knew the music would change, and people were saying 'God, they'll never come up with another one as good as that', you know. It is very different, but then, Fleetwood Mac's albums all have been very different. There's a lot of warmth, a lot of cohesiveness between the band, and this record is not such a cold studio effort as was the other one. Don't get me wrong, I love that other album, but this one is a lot more special to me. There's a lot of feeling.

"I know now that I'm old enough, and together enough not to get zoned out by the success of this band. I don't think any of us are, even Stevie and Lindsey who more or less had an overnight success. It doesn't phase them that much either.

"We're really each other's dearest friends, although we all have other special friends as well. Basically, I spend all my spare time at home, I don't go raving around to clubs and parties. So I don't even know that many musicians who have gotten carried away, shall we say, by success. The rock and roll lifestyle doesn't really appeal to me.

"Everyone's just carrying on as normal. We enjoy all this, but I don't think we're strutting around like peacocks."

Thanks to Karen for posting this to The Ledge.