On paper, Mick Fleetwood would appear to play the sagely mentor and Nicole Atkins the eager padawan for the initial episode of "Off the Record," a new music and conversation series that debuts today (Oct. 11) on sponsor Cabo Wabo's YouTube channel. But Fleetwood says their summit meeting in Hawaii went quite another way.
"Nicole is not just someone who is gloriously talented and maybe totally unknowing or super-innocent in terms of what she's getting into -- or what she was already in," Fleetwood tells Billboard.com. "I would probably have been worth half a damn with some decent commentary that might have been helpful, but we did not go there because she was not one of those people. It was so apparent she didn't need any of that at all, so we went into, in essence, another level of dialogue, which was great."
The show finds Fleetwood and Atkins essentially interviewing each other, with Fleetwood focusing on "how you hang onto...and reaffirm your personal integrity with what you're doing" and Atkins fishing for some vintage Fleetwood Mac stories out of the percussionist. Fleetwood was also surprised and pleased that Atkins "had a real awareness of early Fleetwood Mac, which... was really mind-blowing for someone that young."
"It's been like a surreal fit of destiny, just listening to what he was talking about," says Atkins, who's covered Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" in her shows. "I just feel truly honored in my career so far to get to know a lot of my heroes, and it really puts a lot of what I do in perspective to hear all of these stories from people who have had careers their whole life. With someone like Mick, he's gone through so many (band) lineup changes and he just kept going, and that's what I do so it's really nice to get to know people like that on a personal level and keep the things they tell you in your mind as a back-up when things don't always go as planned."
Atkins has largely wrapped up touring to support her latest solo album, "Mondo Amore," and has already started writing songs for her next album. She recently released a digital live EP, "Nicole Atkins & the Black Sea...Til Dawn," recorded at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn and available for free at her web site.
Fleetwood, meanwhile, is busy opening his new club, Fleetwood's On Front, in Maui, and recently assembled a supergroup called The M.O.B. -- featuring Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Fleetwood Mac co-founder John McVie and guitarist Jonny Lang -- to record a version of "Sharp Dressed Man" that kicks off the new "ZZ Top -- a Tribute From Friends" album. "I knew about (ZZ Top) before I met them, and they are the real deal," Fleetwood says. "They come from a great love of blues, and they've always expressed a real regard for Peter Green and the original Fleetwood Mac, which led to this long-term friendship and regard. So this was totally my pleasure to do. I was not only flattered to be asked but excited to be part of it"
Fleetwood also harbors an ambition to reassemble The M.O.B. (which he says is not a specific acronym) in the future. "I have musical fantasies all the time," he says with a laugh, "but we had a lot of fun doing this, and I truly, truly do have a vision of somewhere, somehow walking on stage and actually putting something together with (the group). It's nothing on a boiler plate right now, but it's certainly something in my mind, and I think everybody else's, too."
Also on tap is a Fleetwood Mac tour for 2012, although Fleetwood no longer sounds as definite about it as he did during the summer, especially with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham busy touring to support their respective solo albums. "It's sort of in that usual old mold (of) not quite knowing," Fleetwood says. "In terms of aspiration, I'm always there for Fleetwood Mac and of course love the band and hope we work and stuff like that. But we thought we were going to go out this year and we ended up not doing that...I would say we're in a waiting game, and that's fine. We get used to doing that. I'm sure you will be hearing about Fleetwood Mac in some context, hopefully not too long from now."