It’s the day before Fleetwood Mac’s final 2004 show in Detroit, and Mick Fleetwood is beaming.
The group’s co-founder and drummer is ready to spend some quality time with his wife and their twin 2-and-a-half-year-old daughters.
“It’s been a very, very long 18 months,” Fleetwood said recently. “It’ll be quite an emotional night, saying goodbye to everyone, all that stuff. It’s been a happy tour and a lot of hard work and traveling.”
However, there’s no rest for the weary. Though he promised his wife they would spend the holidays at their home in Hawaii, he’s out promoting another album – this one his own, under the moniker The Mick Fleetwood Band. “Something Big,” a collaboration with singer-songwriter-guitarist Todd Smallwood and vocalist Lauren Evans, was released Sept. 28 on Fleetwood’s TallMan Records, through Sanctuary.
Fleetwood’s unmistakable drumming style fills “Something Big,” but he clearly revels in sharing the creative and production process with Smallwood, a friend of 10 years.
“We were buddies, then sort of lost contact through the years and crossed paths again,” Fleetwood said. “It wasn’t until I went on the project he invited me on, Music Bridges, taking about 40 musicians to Cuba, that really reignited my connection with him. We stayed in touch, then I started banging on the drums at his studio at odd moments. This album sort of came out of all that dynamic.
“It was great being around someone who’s incredibly talented, who’s very rounded, who’s a great engineer, a great arranger. He sings, plays piano and guitar. We decided to put something together, something more definite, and that led to finishing off what is this album. It was a natural progression, and there was no pressure. I didn’t realize the Mac was going to tour for so long, which was great – that the business was there and people still wanted to see us, but the downside for Todd was ‘Are we ever going to get this album out?’ “
“Something Big” features guest appearances from Jackson Browne, Lee Sklar, Mac co-hort John McVie and former Mac guitarist-singer Jeremy Spencer, Fleetwood’s first studio work with him in more than 30 years.
“It’s straight-ahead rock, sort of organic. I think there’s some really strong songs on there, and in some instances, some really beautiful songs,” Fleetwood said. “It’s heartfelt. We weren’t really reinventing the wheel; we were just doing what came naturally.”
Like Fleetwood, Smallwood has a nose for talent. The Emmy-nominated lyricist brought in Evans to do backup vocals, but Fleetwood quickly sensed something big about Evans’ gospel-influenced voice.
“Todd has known Lauren since she was 16; I think she’s about 24 now. She has a great set of pipes,” Fleetwood said. “Her father is a preacher and she used to sing at church, then started doing background vocals for some of Todd’s projects. He brought her in to do background vocals for this album and I said, ‘Are you kidding? She needs to be singing.’ We paired her and Todd up, which I think is a great success. Their voices go great together; she’s a joy.”
Now that he’s out of the Mac mode, Fleetwood is set to devote his limited time to his new band.
“I consider myself fairly connected to work ethic,” he said. “I don’t think we’re in the clouds too much. But I need to go back and rehearse almost immediately so we can try and do some TV shows, have something to offer up. I suspect if we do any road work, it’ll be next year. But, hey, I’m open to doing what needs to be done outside of being completely unavailable to my family, which is important to me.”
Fleetwood, who also has children from a previous marriage, is enjoying his second chance at fatherhood.
“Daddy doesn’t get away with too much now, because before they were way too young to know one way or the other, although they toured a lot with us so they know what Dad does. But it’s increasingly harder to get out the door now,” he said.
“At the grand age of 57, I’m a lot more attentive, a lot more aware what family strictly means. There’s no doubt I will have a very different, but to be totally candid, a definitely better situation. I was always away from home and it was totally all about me, me, me, playing and my then-wife at home with the kids. They came on the road quite a bit, but I was extremely crazy for many years. But I’m loving it now; it’s totally fantastic.”
He has the gold and platinum records. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s an avid art collector. He even has a wine named after him. What else is in his future?
“Well, I don’t see myself retiring,” Fleetwood said. “I may retire from what we call ‘active service,’ but I will always want to play and I’ll always have a band of some description. As of now, I’ll be permanently living in Hawaii. There’s lots of great players who live on the island and I will for sure always play, but I could always run an art gallery. I love being around people. I could see me doing something else seven years from now and hopefully not trampling around the world not so much. Providing the health is still good, another 10 years of actice service wouldn’t be totally out of line.
“The thought of watching the sun go down in Hawaii and playing golf, quite frankly, appeals to me. But I’m not thinking of that right now, as you can tell. I just finished three years worth of work with Fleetwood Mac, and without taking a breath, I’m going straight into another project.”
“Something Big” is the first of what Fleetwood expects to be several releases on TallMan, a label he hopes will open up more avenues for him.
“I would love to get into that side of the business, discovering artists, which is basically what I’ve done in the past,” he said. “I like nurturing situations like that. I can certainly address any issue (new artists) might have at all about the business, because I’ve seen it all.”
BWF (before we forget): The Mick Fleetwood album discography – “The Visitor” (RCA, 1981); “I’m Not Me” (1983); “Something Big” (TallMan/Sanctuary, 2004).
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