“If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.” – Henry David ThoreauThoreau’s quote so brings to mind the experience of making the album Tusk. Much like when the Beatles made their White Album, Tusk, for us, was our walking away from predictability.
Kudos to Lindsey Buckingham, who was determined to break the mould of what we had done with Rumours and get away from the possibility of what can so often happen when success impedes artistic expression.I think Tusk was the most important album we ever made. It’s also my personal favourite and now I can appreciate how it was a crucial platform for us all, especially Lindsey. It satiated his drive to try new things.
It was also a time when we each learned to find our own voice. Coming out of the emotional rollercoaster of Rumours, the drama remained. A real shift had occurred, resulting in each of us pinpointing our singular creative method of survival.
We allowed each other the freedom to construct our unique, creative templates and obliterate the old way of doing things, so much so that it was totally OK when, in the middle of it, John McVie announced: “I’ve done my bass part, so I’m off.” And off he went to Tahiti on his boat.
We took it in our stride and had a life-sized cut-out of him to work as a stand-in for the famous Tusk video.
For almost two years we worked in Studio D, at The Village Recording Studios in Los Angeles.
The studio was custom-built to our exact specifications, which may sound extravagant but at the time we could well afford to plough our money back into our art.
We made it cosy, complete with wood panelling in all the rooms. Each room had its unique, ambient acoustics.
I even had remote controlled wood panels that could change position, further controlling the ambience.
On a recent visit there, recording with Stevie Nicks for her most recent album, I was amazed to find the studio unchanged!
While we were recording the song Tusk, my father died. I was in France, suffering from a terrible hangover, after tying one on in honour of my father the night before, when I heard a brass band playing in the square.
I was captivated by how it pulled all the villagers out of their houses to join them. This strange magnetism even worked on me with my terrible headache. I left the house and went to fall in with them. It was magical.
When I came back to the studio, I was so excited about the effects of a brass band that I wanted to put them on the song. That is how Tusk, the song, was born. We famously used a marching band at Dodger Stadium.
It was a huge production and the magnificent drama of their presence added so much energy to that powerful song. Not like now, when all you have to do to get some brass is touch a button.
Although Tusk was given a measure of approval from our peers, for the most part this crazy double album was met coolly by the press.
No matter. This album was our version of marching to the sound of our own drum as a band, as well as individually. It allowed our creative freedom to flow.