Jeremy Spencer may not be a household name, but the expert slide guitarist is one of the founding members of one of the biggest bands in rock and roll history. The original guitarist for Fleetwood Mac upon formation in 1967, its been 43 years since Spencer has toured the states. Though his solo US tour was cancelled for unspecified health concerns, I was fortunate enough to ask him a few questions regarding his new album, his past experiences and future prospects.
With nearly an entire lifetime of playing guitar, Spencer has mastered the art of slide guitar. With his past experiences, its interesting to see how his life and influences around him have actually shaped the direction in which his music has gone. “My past experiences have most likely influenced me, consciously or unconsciously, to go in the direction I have wanted to go with these recent projects.” He adds, “I did not want to again fall under the dictates of a big record company who is paying the bills and pushing me to conform to current trends or be intimidated by the opinions of too many people who had their ideas of how my music should be presented and performed. Sometimes it’s hard to strike a happy balance between doing it the way you feel it ought to be done, while listening to the counsel of others and their tastes.”
Spencer has been recently juggling several music ventures. He’s collaborated with singer/songwriter Andy Oliver to form Steetley, a blues/folk project from the UK. He has also just finished recording with French trio, Font of Bleue, which is Spencer seems quite ecstatic to be a part of. “It’s warm, gentle music, which is my preferred style these days.”
Along with these projects, Spencer is releasing a solo album, Coventry Blue. While showcasing Spencer’s talents as a guitarist, some songs have lyrics, while others remain strictly instrumentals. His reasoning is simple, “In retrospect, I think most of the instrumentals would have been songs if I had lyrics that had amply transmitted the emotion of the piece.” The styles are ever changing, yet theres a a consistency that ties the music together, a direction he states is based simply on his love of music.
“In a way it’s an appreciation for different styles of music, but I think it’s even more a reflection of what strikes my fancy at the moment! Sometimes I wake up with an idea of a tune in my head and I have to get my guitar, or I sit down at the piano and tinkle around and form chord sequences, or my funny bone gets a nudge and I want to write a spoof thing (such as ‘Durango’). ‘Coventry Blue’ material was recorded four years ago, and a particular feel and sound evolved during that time with the Detroit team influenced by the collective nature of the musicians, the studio ambience and how I was feeling at the time. I am now on an even gentler, cleaner and sparse sound than I was then, and that again is influenced by the same elements.”
Similarly, his previous album Bend in the Road (which has garnered rave reviews) showcased the talent that has landed him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While his styles have changed drastically since Fleetwood Mac, heading away from harder rock and more towards the mellower blues oriented slide guitar, Spencer still proves that he has the talent and drive to create memorable tracks for years to come.