Stevie - BAM Magazine (07.22.1997)

What's it like to go back and perform those songs? In the video, it seems like you're going back to the way you felt when you wrote the songs. Is that a fun thing? Is it painful? Or is it an act? It looked very real, though.

It's totally real. In the first place, when we filmed the MTV thing, we'd only been back together for a few months. So nothing was old. Nobody was tired of anybody. It's all good. So when you burst into those songs and you look at the people you wrote them about and they're there with you, it's pretty easy for that moment in time to slip back into that, to be right back there. You know, when Lindsey and I go back and forth on the songs that were written between the two of us, for that moment, we are back in love again. And it's wonderful. If that didn't happen we would be a really boring bunch of people onstage. So the tension is much less than it was before. Is there still tension there? Yes, there is. And that's what makes it still really good now.

Fleetwood Mac never had a hippie quality like a lot of the '70s music did. Was it because of the angst and all the tension? I just saw that VH1 special [The Making of Rumours]. Aside from the personal turmoil you were going through at the time, was it a fun record to make?

It was totally great. Again, everybody loves to focus on the darkness and everything that went down that wasn't cool, but, at the same time, the music was really great. All the fighting between Lindsey and I, Christine and John, played a part in making Rumours so good. Fleetwood Mac had an irresistible quality, because there's so much that goes on between two couples who had been in love with each other and then gone on and tried to work it out, tried to still be friends and work together.

So that painful tension was a necessary evil? What about now that you're all more grown-up and happier in your lives. What's it like to be creative in that family again?

It's really good. Nobody is angry anymore. That is not to mean that we don't have disagreements. But what has happened this time around is that we've been able to sit down and talk about our problems. There's been some big arguments, but we've never let anything get too out of control. Now, we actually sit down, the five of us, and, rather than let our managers and everybody else work things out, we talk about it between ourselves. And it's worked. We can communicate to a point of not letting anything destroy us, you know, all the stupid stuff that goes on, picking the pictures. Getting five people to agree on anything.

I've recently discovered the early, Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac and it would seem, on the surface, that when you and Lindsey joined the band, it was this completely different thing from what Peter was doing. But if you listen to Peter's songs like "Green Manalishi," you can hear the similarities. You could almost directly connect it to "Rhiannon." They both have this very mystical quality.

That's exactly what we connected with in the very beginning. When we got the phone call from Mick Fleetwood asking us if we wanted to join the band, Lindsey and I went out and bought all those records from the beginning of Fleetwood Mac until then. We listened to them back to back, very carefully, to see if we could add anything to the band, or if they could add anything to what Lindsey and I were doing. We wanted to know if this was something we were gonna do just for the money, or if we were gonna do this because we could improve upon it in some way. And what we connected to, of course, was Peter Green. It was his mystical influence that drew us in, that made it OK to stop doing Buckingham Nicks and join Fleetwood Mac.

You and Lindsey are from the [San Fernando] Valley, right?

No actually, we both moved down here from San Francisco. I met Lindsey in high school, near Cupertino. We played in a band there from 1968 to 1972. That's when Lindsey and I packed up and moved down here. When we were in a band up there, we opened up for all of these really big bands. We played up and down the Peninsula to Monterey and came down through the other side of San Francisco and all the way to Sacramento. Every Friday and Saturday we opened almost every big rock show that came through the area. Even though I only lived up there for my senior year in high school, that's where I feel like I'm from because that's where the music all happened.

Another important tour stop is Sound City in Panorama City. That's where you met Mick and eventually where you recorded Fleetwood Mac.

Actually, it's where we recorded Buckingham Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.

And part of Rumours?

I don't think any of Rumours was done there, but we returned to Sound City many different times. That's a really cool place. That's the first studio I went to when Lindsey and I first came to town. And it still looks exactly the same as it did in 1973.

It's an LA landmark. Have you ever thought about the fact that both "Rhiannon" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" were recorded there; two of the most important records of their respective decades were made at the same studio. And it's kinda funny that such artistry was created deep within an industrial park in the San Fernando Valley. 

[Laughs] Actually, the first time Lindsey and I saw that studio we thought it was the most fabulous big, huge, incredible rock 'n' roll studio. We had never ever been in such a big studio before. We'd only been in little tiny ones in San Francisco.

Do you remember the first time you collaborated on a song with Lindsey? When you showed him one of your songs and you guys started working on arrangements?

I showed him all my songs. I mean, "Rhiannon," "Gold Dust Woman" and "Landslide" were written a year before we joined Fleetwood Mac. I'd sit down and play a song for Lindsey and he'd go straight to his tape recorder. All I had to do was write it, play it for him and 24 hours later it was recorded. That was so great for me, because I wasn't a great guitar player, and I'm still not. All I had to do was sing it and get the vibe over to Lindsey and then it would be recorded perfectly. He could play really well, so I never had to mess around with any of that stuff.