Mick Fleetwood clearly gets the question all the time.
And he completely gets the question.
How can the majority of Fleetwood Mac’s most famous lineup — drummer Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, singer/songwriter/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks — still be making music together after all these famously tumultuous years?
Well, he said with a laugh, it’s still a bit of a shock for him, too.
“I think you have to concede that. … You know, (it) used to be years and years and years ago still quite painful, in many ways, and all the well-worn stories of survival — emotional survival — through all of that, I won’t say they’re boring because even to us, we look at that and go like ‘How the *** DID we get through all that?’” Fleetwood said in a phone interview from Los Angeles before the April 4 launch of the band’s North American tour.
“You just have to really attribute it to a form of perverse devotion for sure to the music and what we were able to do. We were really lucky to be able to be doing it. I think we all realized that.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers are bringing their “Fleetwood Mac Live 2013” trek to the BOK Center on Wednesday night. The legendary band previously played the Tulsa venue the last time it hit the road together, on 2009’s sold-out “Unleashed Tour.”
The longtime bandmates have reunited on the road to mark the 35th anniversary reissue of their most iconic album, Rumours, but they’re also celebrating the release of new music. On Tuesday, the band dropped on iTunes a four-track EP appropriately titled Extended Play.
It’s practically impossible to think of Rumours without thinking of the interpersonal havoc that birthed it: McVie and his wife, Christine McVie, the band’s now-retired singer/songwriter/pianist, filed for divorce, while Buckingham and Nicks broke off their long-term romance. Fleetwood and his wife divorced, too, and he and Nicks had an affair.
Despite the turmoil, Fleetwood said the band concentrated on making the album a “complete piece of work” rather than just a collection of random tracks. Because the turmoil informed the songwriting, Rumours became one of the most popular and acclaimed records in rock history, winning the Grammy for Album of the Year and selling more than 40 million copies worldwide since its 1977 debut.
“I think the songs, the vocal delivery on the album and the approach with the harmonies and stuff was something for sure fresh and maybe somewhat ‘wow, not (another) band sounds like that.’ So we were blessed with all that stuff. And then I think the songs were great, and they were pop-driven songs, but they weren’t stupid and they weren’t corny. But they were really accessible,” Fleetwood said.
“Then you had this bunch … that started telling their own story literally through those songs and then as that unfolded, it became part and parcel outside of the music, this mythological story of this impossible situation these people had found themselves in. I think the whole putting together of all those components became something that people identified with and in many ways were attracted to it, probably because they felt similar themselves very often, that they were just a bit of an emotional mess,” he added.
“We’re all in our 60s now, and people still talk about this human condition calling card which was ‘Rumours.’”
With the bustling solo careers Nicks and Buckingham have carved out, the native Englishman said creating new Fleetwood Mac music has been a challenge. Plus, the drummer, 65, who now lives on Maui, opened Fleetwood’s On Front Street restaurant last year and continues to make music with his Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, which recently played a special show featuring Christine McVie and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler on the island he calls home.
Tuesday’s EP release marked the band’s first new music debut in a decade. Fleetwood, John McVie and Buckingham assembled several months ago in L.A. and recorded about nine “really fresh and vibrant” songs they hoped would be the starting point for a new album from the group. Nicks was busy with her own tour and then her mother’s death, but before the quartet hit the road, she added her vocals to a few tracks and recorded “Without You,” a previously unreleased song from her pre-Fleetwood Mac days with Buckingham Nicks.
Along with “Without You,” the digital EP features the poppy tracks “Sad Angel” and “Miss Fantasy” and the wistful piano ballad “It Takes Time.” Hopefully, the EP will herald the coming of a full-length follow-up to 2003’s Say You Will, Fleetwood said.
“We’re musicians at work, and now we have the grace just to say ‘When this is right, we’ll do it.’ Stevie’s ready to do it and wants to do it, and off we go. And we’ll be wrapped around each other for the better part of probably 18 months, you know, working all over the world.”
Despite the band’s turbulent history, Fleetwood said the quartet was instantly in harmony when they came together for rehearsals.
“It’s just like it could have been like three days ago, and it’s actually maybe four years ago that we all were on the road,” he said.
“It’s like opening up a time capsule that is very familiar, and then we literally just plug in and ‘let’s go’ and it’s all intact.”
Brandy McDonnell / News OK / Wednesday, May 1, 2013