It has been 50 years since Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Peter Green formed Fleetwood Mac. “Is it over yet?” laughs Fleetwood, who sits across from me swilling a hearty glass of wine that matches his red leather boots. It’s 10.30 in the morning.
Fleetwood is jet-lagged. He is over in London to promote the release of Love That Burns: a gargantuan chronicle of his childhood and Fleetwood Mac’s first eight years on the music scene. “We had a really busy day yesterday, but I think I went to bed too soon. It was like a gig – I should have unwound.” Despite being a little spaced out, once he gets going, he is in fine form. He is intimidatingly tall, which contrasts with his gentle nature; the iconic figure exuding the easy-going demeanour – and sartorial nous, with his Liberty print shirt and black velvet waistcoat – of someone who has experienced first-hand the highs and lows of the golden age of rock and roll.
Fleetwood, alongside John McVie, has been a constant in a band that has seen many significant line-up changes. He is often seen as the band’s driving force, pushing the band through the decades. “It’s somewhat fair to say that I’ve been the cheerleader creature that has always said, ‘We’ve got to keep going!’ – even to the point of overdoing it,” says Fleetwood openly. “But hey, this has been my life! John said to me the other day, ‘Fuck! This is what they call a career!’ It has consumed parts of our lives.” Despite the band’s longevity, Fleetwood is clearly still puzzled as to how the band has overcome obstacles that would break most bands. “We’re all over the place. Sometimes we don’t work enough; then we’re all falling in and out of love; and then there’s the sadness of people’s personal journeys. You just think: how are we still here? It’s a miracle.”
Alongside releasing some of the 20th century’s most iconic albums, Fleetwood Mac has sustained due to Fleetwood’s perseverance – while honouring the talented and influential characters that have coloured the band’s past. Love That Burns takes in the years 1967 to 1974 – the period before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham came into the fold and 1977’s Rumours was yet to be conceived. “It’s fair to say that a lot of people are only really interested in the latter years; but I’m very happy that we were able to do this – and it stands on its own for that very reason. This book is about the foundation that led to you-know-what – which is why it was so important for this to be separate,” he says, noting that this is just volume one of the story.
Fleetwood says that it is his duty to put the spotlight on those players who helped shape the band, but no longer have a voice to tell their story. “It’s important for me to wave the flag. I’m still in the band that was started 50 years ago. I’m really proud of everything about the book and what’s in it – and speaking for people who, in my opinion, have no concept of what they did – like Peter Green and Danny Kirwan. And of course, Bob Welch isn’t here anymore,” says Fleetwood, remembering three of the band’s iconic players. “It’s appropriate that these people and the different incarnations of the band don’t get forgotten.”
It is a rarity that a band can experience obstacles, line-up changes and shifts in musical styles and still survive across decades – a fact that Fleetwood is aware and proud of. “There’s no band that did all that weird shit, frankly. It’s an odd story with that many personnel and musical changes. If you put a few of our records on at the same time, you would wonder if it was the same band. But there was a whole energy that survived those changes,” he says, noting the importance of McVie and himself being at the heart of the band’s work. “The fact that the rhythm section stayed the same has something to do with a connective that still lives and breathes today.”
Alongside Fleetwood and McVie, who have provided the band’s deep, in-the-pocket grooves, Fleetwood Mac has brought the talents of many great musicians to the fore. Alongside guitarists Danny Kirwan, Jeremy Spencer and Bob Welch, who Fleetwood says he has “huge amounts of regard for”, there is a zealous dedication to highlighting the impact founding member and former Bluesbreaker, Peter Green, had on the band. “Peter is my mentor in many, many ways – and a dear friend,” he says. “I just fell in love with Peter and his playing; he was everything to me. That’s fairly evident in the way this book has been put together. Not to diminish Bob Welch and other members that came in and out, but I think it’s appropriate, because Peter is the reason why we are here.”
Green, responsible for penning classics including ‘Albatross’, ‘Black Magic Woman’, ‘Need Your Love So Bad’ and ‘Love That Burns’, from which the book takes its name, is a pioneering blues guitarist that gave the early band a true originality. In 1970, Green’s mental state began to decline – purportedly brought on by an LSD trip. “I basically lost him, and he lost his place in the world in many ways. That was his life, and there was sadness and tragedy to it; but you’ve got to get over that and just say, ‘This happened; but look at this! Look at the music; hear the music; feel the music! And it’s profound.
“Peter’s music speaks for itself, but having the position to be doing this, to be talking about it, is important to me. I love doing it, and he’s certainly not going to do it,” says Fleetwood, breaking into a cackle.
When he’s not cajoling his Mac bandmates into working again, Fleetwood is happy in his home of Hawaii, swapping arena tours with blues jams in beach shacks. “Either way, once I get going it’s all the same, as long as I’m sweatin’,” he says with a grin. “I love to play and I get to play a lot in Hawaii – mainly at my own restaurant.” He must be relieved to be taking it easy after 50 years in studios and on the road; but he tells me that despite the band’s history resembling a “Shakespearean play”, there has never been a dull moment. “I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that everyone takes those journeys… but it has never been boring – never been boring.”
Chor Bizarre stood on Albemarle Street for nearly 20 years, attracting spice lovers with Indian dishes steeped in tradition. Now, the restaurant has closed – ending the London run of one of the most well-known purveyors of Indian cuisine.
But London is not losing a top drawer Indian restaurant. Indian Accent, operated by Old World Hospitality – the hospitality group that counts Chor Bizarre as part of its stable – is moving into the space, and promises to bring an even more stellar offering to seal London’s reputation as a bastion of contemporary Indian cuisine. “We were running this restaurant for almost 20 years,” says Mehrotra, who ran the kitchen between 2006 and 2010. “Now it’s time for a change. Indian Accent has been in Delhi for the last eight and a half years – and last year we opened in New York, which is doing very well. We felt it was time to reinvent Chor Bizarre and get Indian Accent in there.”
To say that the Indian Accent brand is doing well is an understatement. The Delhi outpost is the only restaurant in India to feature in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017; it was also awarded the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant Award in India by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 for the third consecutive year. The New York opening, though having launched recently, has been garnering acclaim from The Big Apple’s in-the-know foodies. “Our makhan malai – a kind of milk foam which was invented in India during the Mughal era – was one of the top 10 dishes in New York in 2016.”
Mehrotra’s pedigree, and the praise heaped on both sites, suggests that Indian Accent London will be equally as impressive. But with a bevy of tongue-tantalisingly good Indian restaurants in the area, including Jamavar, Gymkhana, Chutney Mary and Benares, does he feel the pressure? “The pressure is always there, because I’ve tried all of these restaurants. They are fantastic restaurants,” concedes the chef. “Regional cooking, and especially home cooking, are huge influences on my dishes. There are very traditional dishes that people never used to put on a restaurant menu – but these feature on my menu – with my twist to it. I think these are quite different to what other Indian restaurants are doing.”
His mission is to bring a more boundary-pushing form of Indian cookery to London – in which he puts the spotlight on the myriad down-home dishes cooked throughout India’s vast regions, but prepared to exacting standards from unexpected angles. “I want to take Indian food forward. India is such a large country and people outside of it don’t know much about Indian food,” explains Mehrotra. “We have food for every palette in the world – unfortunately we are famous only for curries. We have so much more to offer to the world.” He says that compared to other global cities, London is a lot more experienced when it comes to Indian food. “The London market is quite evolved in terms of Indian flavours, if you compare it with New York, Paris or Berlin; people know about Indian dishes, but there is still more to offer.” He says that people are becoming more educated about Indian food, and it’s down to him and his contemporaries to articulate the true spirit of Indian cuisine. “People are travelling to India, and Indian chefs are now doing things outside of the country, so the public are becoming better educated. Whether it’s Gaggan in Bangkok, Atul at Benares, Floyd Cardoz in New York, or at Gymkhana or Jamavar; we all have the same goal of trying to tell people about real Indian food. We want to get more respect for Indian food.”
According to Mehrotra, this increased knowledge of Indian food allows him to serve dishes exactly as per his vision – undiluted for foreign markets. “I wanted to tell the world that you don’t have to change anything. I really want to showcase the type of flavours I work with in Delhi; I do the same in New York and I’ll do the same in London,” insists the chef. “If you see an average Indian eating at home, they don’t eat spicy food; India is a land of spices, but India is not a land of chillies. Chilli only came into our cuisine about 250 or 300 years back. My dishes are more of this home flavour profile.
“That is a misconception about Indian cuisine – the same way we Indians have the misconception that people in the West can’t handle chillies and spices. But it’s not true! I was surprised when diners in New York were comfortable with the level of spice in what we do. I didn’t have to do anything different from what we were cooking in New Delhi, and it was fine with everyone!”
Mehrotra and his team are currently not looking further than London. “At the moment, we have no further plans for expansion of Indian Accent. We started in India, and now we have a presence in New York and London – two of the great foodie cities. Perhaps, if it becomes very lucrative, then we might think of doing something,” he says, laughing, “but for now, it will be Delhi, New York and London only.”
Various shots from various shoots with an acclaimed London-based band called The Greasy Slicks. All shot on film at locations including Sunset Studio in Peckham’s Copeland Park complex, the dilapidated mansion Beckenham Place Park and the band’s garage rehearsal space.