Music: Lindsey Buckingham in Two Worlds

Feb 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson



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When Lindsey Buckingham and I hook up by phone one morning in the late fall of 2010, he apologizes for sounding tired, noting, “We did this corporate in Phoenix two nights ago and I got in late from that and I have kids who wake up at six in the morning.” The “corporate” was essentially a large private party, and “we” is Fleetwood Mac. When I express surprise that Fleetwood Mac would play that sort of gig—after all, the re-formed band (sans Christine McVie) has been touring (if sporadically) very successfully in big arenas—he replies, “Well, we’re living in the new world of the music business and we’ve got this little window, so there’s no reason not to,” and you can almost hear the shrug on the other end of the line.

Buckingham and I were speaking because it had just been announced that he would receive this year’s Les Paul Award at the 26th annual Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC) Awards, held January 14, 2011, at the Anaheim Hilton, in conjunction with the NAMM convention. The Les Paul Award honors musicians “who have set the highest standards of excellence in the creative application of audio technology”—a description that certainly applies to Buckingham. Best known for fronting Fleetwood Mac on and off for the past 35 years, and writing and singing many of their best tunes, Buckingham has also made a handful of intriguing, somewhat idiosyncratic, solo albums; in fact, another one, tentatively titled Seeds We Sow, should be out in the not-too-distant future. From the beginning of his career, he’s been deeply involved in recording—he’s been cutting the new album in his home studio, engineering it himself. We thought this might be a good time to catch up with this restless and endlessly creative musical great.


Making of Say You Will Album

Fleetwood Mac has become a “legacy band” at this point. Are you guys getting along okay?
You know, it’s been a long, emotional road with the band and I think we’re entering a time when we can appreciate each other in a way that was maybe not very likely for a number of years. A lot of it had to do with the hit-or-miss quality of how often we would even see each other. During those periods when we’re apart, everyone sort of goes through their own personal journey of making sense not only of what’s going on now, but what went on then. Maybe we’re better able to approach everything from more of an overview now. I think that’s where we are.

The last time we spoke, you had just finished Say You Will (Fleetwood Mac’s most recent album) and were about to go on tour. I’m wondering whether you still play material from it on the Fleetwood Mac tours you do. There were some good tunes on there, but no “hits,” I guess.
Let’s see, when we went out last year, we didn’t have a new album and we were going out and doing a body of work that we thought people would want to hear. And that’s something you come to terms with—that when you have been around long enough, there are a lot of songs people really want to hear and they are perhaps less interested in new material.

Sad but true.
Well, it isn’t really sad. For me, it’s like having the small movie and the big movie. You can do the solo stuff and it keeps you growing and it keeps you vital on certain levels, and then you can go out and work the big machine and actually just have fun with what that is and take it for what it is.

So the answer would be, no, on the last tour we didn’t do anything from that album because I think it didn’t fall into the preconception of playing what we thought people wanted to hear. On the tour before that, when we were actually supporting the Say You Will album, we did a few songs from that record.

You’ve been pretty prolific since then, putting out two very different solo albums—Under the Skin, which felt very personal and intimate, and then Gift of Screws, which showed a more raucous side.
Under the Skin has a very specific vibe, with all those acoustic textures and all that.

After we got done with the Say You Will tour, I said to the band, “Look, I want to take about three years, I want to do two solo albums if I can and tour behind both of them. So give me the time to do that and I can guarantee you I will come back into the fold with a renewed sense of community and a renewed sense of myself, which will hopefully bring something new into the mix.” And I did just that—that three-year period was a really positive time of growth for me, camaraderie with my own band and confidence-building. And it’s great to be out there playing for maybe 2,000 people and really connecting with the audience in a way that you can’t in a giant arena. I’m not knocking what we do with Fleetwood Mac. Those shows are really fun in a completely different way, and the level of connection with the audience is also certainly very special.

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