I remember this interview very well. We were at The Bayshore Hotel, and the interview was with Jeremy Spencer and Mick Fleetwood. John McVie and Christine Perfect were missing….shopping, I think. Christine had just joined the group, replacing the genius bluesman, Peter Green. A week after this interview, Jeremy would leave the group in Los Angeles to join a cult of some sort… he ended up being replaced by Bob Welsh…. who hung around for five albums before going off on his own trip. A couple years later, Mick meets two kids from L.A. and invites them to join the band… and the rest is…. One sidebar: I distinctly remember Mick telling me that John McVie had only one kidney… for some reason, that nugget of rock trivia never made it into the printed interview.
Rick McGrath: You people have moved to a farm?
Mick Fleetwood: It’s not a farm, it’s just a big house.
Rick: And it has a studio?
Mick: Yeah, I think by the time we get back to London it will be a four-track setup, but it will be eight-track shortly afterwards. It’s supposed to be eight-track, but they’ve still got to get hold of the heads and everything. We’ve done things just on normal tape recorders that would have been, with a little more care, feasible, perfectly all right. So four tracks is plenty to start with. I don’t think, unless you’re really planning to do huge things with synthesizers, eight-track is perfect. Sixteen track I don’t think we’ll ever use.
Rick: Do you see this set-up working as a Beatles or Chicago thing?
Mick: I think the idea appeals to us, to be able to do that. Initially the setup is for us, but I think if the opportunity came along where someone wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to afford studio prices, which a lot of groups can’t, because they don’t have a good record deal or something, then obviously I think we’d very much like to do that — record them. I think, really, it’s something like that. I think it’s a good idea to have somebody build a studio, not in a private house like ours, but right in the country with very pleasant surroundings where a group can actually go out for a fortnight and live in the studio… live there, sleep there.
Rick: When you record, do you work things out in the studio at all?
Mick: It has worked like that. We have done that where Danny has worked something out or when Peter was in the band, he used to work things out and, even to the extent where he used to lay a lot of the tracks down himself, you know, just go in and use the tracks. But as a rule, I’d say no, things are not super worked out. I know some bands do that.
Rick: What I’m leading up to is the problem of spontaneity in the studio. Even though you overdub, do you try and get things down in as few takes as possible?
Mick: All the time. You’ve definitely got it in the back of your head that the least amount of time is that you have to do it. Obviously if someone goofs up or something you’ve got to do it again because it just isn’t right, but I think that’s right, especially with singing. If you find that you’re singing it time and time again, you should either leave it completely, or if you’re not getting something going the way you know it should be, and you know it’s wrong, you can get to a stage where you should just leave it for a week, and go in fresh. Because it is a bad thing to overdo it.
Rick: Will your new album be like Kiln House?
Jeremy Spencer: No, Chris will be on it for a start. It will have the same sort of sound, even more normal and more natural. The influences are still the same.
Rick: Where did you pick up the “Blue Suede Shoes” thing? Like the movements and stuff?
Jeremy: I just started in my front room playing around with an old guitar and picked it up from there. I copied the movements from old photographs. Not moving photographs, but old stills. It was just fun. I suppose every kid used to do that.
Rick: It is really effective. There seems to be a lot of old Rock doing a revival thing these days, what with Sha Na Na and Brownsville Station. Do you parody the old days, or are you really into it?
Jeremy: You’ve got to parody it a little bit, but I mean I really like it and I listen to it a lot.
Rick: Are you going to be incorporating anymore of it into your act?
Jeremy: For the next album?
Rick: Either for live shows or an album.
Jeremy: Oh yeah. The reason it was like that on Kiln House is because we had to do an album in two weeks.
Rick: Did you find that difficult to do?
Mick: Yeah, the whole band was in a bit of a turmoil. First of all we hadn’t fulfilled our contract in making another American tour. We had to do two every year. And we had to make another record. We have to do three albums a year, and we hadn’t done either of those, so we had to do one to tie in with the American tour, which isn’t unreasonable at all. I mean the point is, had we not done Kiln House, we still wouldn’t have had an album out now. So really, there was that reason too, but the really big reason that it was quite important that the band put out something. I mean, that was an honest thing to do. It’s not something we would say “awww” to, it wasn’t perhaps everything it could have been, like there wasn’t much thought attached to it, in the way that you were saying, like “Do you think about it?” which, obviously, I think you should… Think about the basic format that you’re going to present. Well, there wasn’t much of that involved. It was just a case of really doing it, and getting into the studio and making an album. And that was it. And that’s the circumstances. Chris wasn’t on it, but she’s in the band now, you see, so the band still hasn’t got, hasn’t presented anything that is really from the band. Wholly, as a unit.
Rick: And the next one will, and you’ll have the time to do it.
Mick: It certainly won’t happen again. But we certainly don’t regret it. There were certain circumstances that were certainly not the best-to make an album under.
Rick: It’s rather surprising to me that the disc turned out as fine as it did, what with all these problems. It’s a fine album. When you do a live show, do you find the audience demands change very much of your set? That is, do you find yourself getting into a rut by having to play the oldies?
Mick: I don’t think as a band we do that very much For instance, we don’t play anything off Then Play On, or something like that. When we last came to America this album, Kiln House, wasn’t out. It came out when we left. So you can imagine. Peter had just left the band, Christine had joined about four days before, and added to that we didn’t play, we just did not play, anything that was familiar with what they’d heard before, so, I mean, there was a large chunk of well-known numbers that Peter used to do and we just didn’t do them, so I mean, someway or another, you could have done them but it would have been a little funny doing them because you’d think we had to. I mean, a lot of people probably didn’t know that Peter Green had left the band, and then we turn up with a girl that’s doing material she had never heard before, because the album wasn’t out, so it must have been pretty weird.
Rick: That would have been the show you did with Jethro Tull. And it was a bit unexpected. The reviewers for the other papers got everything screwed up. They thought Jerry was Peter and they didn’t know who the hell Christine was. That may explain his rather lame review, because how can you remain credible when you don’t even know who you’re writing about. To change the subject a bit, do you think the blues revival is still as big in England?
Jeremy: No, no. The bands that just play blues these days don’t seem to be doing anything. It’s just not being played right. I mean, if it’s being played well, I’m sure the people would like it.
Rick: Peter’s new album, have you heard it?
Mick: It’s a jam.
Rick: Yeah, the whole thing.
Mick: It’s not a bad jam, though
Rick: Yeah, but jams are pretty limited. You have to have more than one imagination working.
Mick: They’re not sparking off properly.
Rick: There’s a couple of cuts that are highly suggestive, but there’s a few that don’t do anything for me.
Jeremy: As far as playing the guitar, Peter is good, and some of the cuts sound like wild animals.
Rick: Yeah, especially the first cut. And it’s done with a wah-wah.
Mick: The whole thing is wah-wah, isn’t it?
Jeremy: Yeah, it seems that wah-wahs aren’t very popular these days.
Mick: Well, Jimi Hendrix played it so well that I thought people were scared to use it after him because he played it the best. If you’re not going to do anything different, what’s the point?
Rick: What do you think about the music scene?
Mick: The record business is fucking up the whole scene. There should be more free music. I think the people are putting too much responsibility on the bands for charging too much. And it’s got nothing to do with them. Think of all the bands that charge exorbitant fees.
Rick: Like Led Zipper…
Mick: And Jethro Tull. They’re interested in making money. I don’t blame them really; but they’re not as big as they were.
Rick: That’s true, and they’re somewhat like The Doors, who put out their best album first. The same with Led Zeppelin.
Rick McGrath / Georgia Straight / April 18, 1971