Lindsey Buckingham is best known as the singer/guitarist of Fleetwood Mac, steering the band through the highs of the era-defining soft pop of "Rumours" and its more experimental, weirder sister album "Tusk" in the late '70s. Buckingham has also had a varied solo career, providing the theme "Holiday Road" to "National Lampoon's Vacation," and recording this year's "Seeds We Sow" entirely on his own. This Friday, Buckingham will speak at the 92nd Street Y about his long career—we spoke to him about his friendship with Brian Wilson, the legacy of Tusk, tinkering in the studio, his kids perception of him, and Fleetwood Mac's plans for next year.
It feels very appropriate I’m interviewing you today. because I just spoke with Brian Wilson this week.
Oh, how was he doing?
He’s doing well. It was a strange interview.
Well I think he’s sort of in and out. He has been for years. He’s just a quirky guy.
He’s one of your musical heroes, right?
Oh absolutely, yes.
Have you met him before?
Oh yeah many times. I’ve worked with him, yeah.
Have you recorded with him?
Yeah, a little bit. Whatever I did was a b-side of something for one of those solo projects he did. I think it was released but it was pretty obscure.
Have you heard the new Smile box set?
I have not. But I have heard various incarnations over the years of Smile and I’m pretty familiar with what there is. I don’t know what's different about this set but it’s obviously an inspiration no matter what form it’s in.
Was their music very influential on you?
Well sure. I grew up in California listening to those harmonies, and he’s such a superb melodicist, and I think that’s something to aspire to. But then later on he was somewhat influential in terms of someone who saw that he had a potential creative life outside the formula, and tried to work outside the formula. He was successful, but it was difficult, and there was a point in time for me after Rumours where we were poised to make something like "Rumours 2", and of course I made a big left turn and we made Tusk. And that was a line in the sand that I drew that still helps define how I try to think today, in terms of continuing to aspire to be an artist and not someone who is just following the formula of the brand, shall we say. Trying to think in terms of what one thinks is important. And trying to respond to the idea that music has a transcendent quality and a religious overtone to it that should be pursued and, you know, to try and reject the company formula which is: if it works, run it into the ground and move on. I think that’s what Brian was trying to do as well.