Having to interview Mick Fleetwood was a bit nerve-wracking.
The stories that surround the man are bigger than the man himself. And he’s something like six foot six.
He lives in remarkable health in Maui, seemingly impervious to the years on the road and of wine, women and song. And massive amounts of cocaine. In his book he admits to snorting what is the equivalent to a line of coke 11 kilometres long. That would be like snorting all the way from my house to Brunswick Heads!
Mick Fleetwood made rock’n’roll forged in the same furnace that made Keith Richards.
To this day Fleetwood continues to live his life his way, oblivious to his fame. This is not a man who would ever go unnoticed.
‘I don’t have a problem with being famous or whatever, and the whole of Fleetwood Mac are like that. For me I guess it’s because of the name and because I am six foot six. I am not looking to hide. I love meeting people and saying hello.’
With Mick on drums, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band features Rick Vito up front. This veteran bluesman and former Fleetwood Mac vocalist and lead guitarist will add his personal touch while staying true to the early stylings of Peter Green.
So with decades on the road, how has touring changed?
‘Well I guess you could say it’s slightly more sedate, it’s not one big party! We were well known for our antics on the road. There are the legendary Fleetwood Mac stories; we were wild and crazy and happy to have survived all that, and those stories are synonymous with that. We don’t spend too much time regurgitating that though.
Touring is touring and the only difference now would be that it’s not one big party; when you have time off it’s walking around the park!
I keep fit, I get up and I am not hungover, or very rarely, and you are actually more connected to life and to time and your family!
In the old days you were very much more into your own thing, and the lifestyle was part of what got out of control. That part is different, playing and touring is playing and touring, the traveling is as tiring, I don’t think it’s any more of a challenge but we have a few years on us – we always travelled as well as you can travel, which alleviates some of the pain – especially on a nice private jet; it certainly helps that you are not lugging around gear!’
So how do the band pick up after a year or so on different projects?
‘We have muscle memory. If you leave it for two years and you don’t rehearse it starts to get a little slack, but we will probably rehearse a couple of days and go and do the same show as the one we have just done. But when we get ready to go on the next major new Fleetwood Mac tour, we rehearse with all the production – full rehearsal for three months.
We have never spent less than six weeks – we normally like to have a little more than two months to perfect the show, and to kick the cobwebs, and to get back in the saddle!’
When it comes to playing, Mick likens it to getting back in that favourite car.
‘A good description is when you have a friendly great old car sitting in the garage that happens to be an old thoroughbred in some form; you know what you know and you are who you are and, believe me, I go oh shit we haven’t played as a band in three years, and you go in rehearsal and it’s all still intact.
We have been doing it so long, and the backdrop is the music and we play how we play and we just are still there!’
For Bluesfest Vito and Fleetwood are joined by Lenny Castellanos on bass, and Mark Johnston on keys.
‘We have a lot of fun. The band is a shit-hot little unit; it’s definitely a blues band. We are our own personage.
On a selfish aspect Rick is a huge advocate of early Fleetwood Mac, particularly the Peter Green years, when were were a fully fledged blues based band, so we have fun cherry-picking some of the old stuff back in the day.
I love doing that Rattlesnake Shake and lots of Elmore James stuff. Rick is a fantastic slide player; having said that it’s fair to say that Rick is the guy out front, he has his own identity which is brought into the mix; we have a lot of fun.
That’s what we do.
For me it’s back to my roots as a blues player!’
Friday and Saturday at Crossroads