Lindsey Buckingham on his buoyant new album, upcoming tour and future Mac attacks
By Mark Brown
Special to MSN Music
The 61-year-old rock veteran begins touring for "Seeds" in Nevada on Sept. 10. Buckingham took a few minutes from his Los Angeles home to discuss his music and Fleetwood Mac's future before rehearsals started.
MSN Music: You put your solo work on hold in 2003 and cannibalized your planned records to make "Say You Will" and tour with Fleetwood Mac. Now all those songs are finally out on the three solo albums you've done since.
Lindsey Buckingham: I had to say to the band, "Just don't bother me for three years." And they didn't. ... When it came to this new album -- which, by the way, I was not planning on doing -- the time just opened up and I filled it. It was a turning of the page in a sense because all that other stuff had gotten off the books and I could look at all of what it had meant from more of a distance. And you've got to factor the personal life into that.
You've already played some of these songs in concert. Is this release a bigger deal for you?
I've been very pleasantly surprised with the outcome. A lot of what the album is about -- and I say it in the show-- is the choices we make and what they add up to over a period of time. Some of the choices I made even many, many years ago were not always popular choices with the people I was working with, or the record company, or, to some degree, with the fans. But you make choices on a set of beliefs or a set of hopes or expectations about what you want to see yourself doing years down the line. I tried to make choices based in the long term, not the short term. ... I had this big machine of Fleetwood Mac and this little machine of solo work. It's like the big movies and independent movies. It's the independent movies that tend to fuel your creativity the most.
People like you and Jeff Beck have never hesitated to walk away from big moneymaking projects to follow your instincts.
I've never spurned the Fleetwood Mac thing, only in the sense that I tried to allot the time to give time to both. I did quit the band for a while, but that was really based more in an exasperation for where everyone was at personally at the time. In the late '80s it was so dysfunctional. Everyone's personal lives were in a shambles. It needed to be stepped away from if for nothing else for my own personal survival [laughs].
As you said, "Seeds We Sow" is about choices and consequences.
It's funny because the album jumps around with things like personal lives and relationships, and suddenly you're looking more at the world. Again, the thing that ties those approaches together is the choices we make as individuals add up to good or ill in the world. I just saw myself in a situation where I think we're all a little disconcerted with the way the world seems to be going. I don't know if that's anything new. It seems to me we're all living in unprecedented times. If you wanna make the analogy to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire ... at least that was regional. This is global now. That's what makes it unprecedented. You see the loss of perspective and you see the implementation of self-interest and selfishness that is so disproportionate to anything that seems to be in the bounds of fairness and decency ... ultimately you have to keep concentrating on what's good and the potential for things to be good.
You've continued a very sparse guitar sound that you've been fond of lately.
The idea of paring things down to the essentials is something I've tried to do more and more. Ten or more years ago, when I started to do the song "Big Love" onstage with just me, was sort of an eye-opener for me.
Is it to keep yourself interested in the guitar? Do you practice every day?
I'm not really like that. I'm self-taught. I don't read [music]. I'm sort of a refined primitive, and I don't consciously sit around and practice. It all comes from the imagination -- what can I do with the way I play and the skills I have? ... It doesn't live in my fingers so much. It doesn't live in doing scales. It lives in my head and in my heart. It has always been tied to the idea of songs when I first started to play. When I was 7, I got a chord book, and luckily I had an older brother buying all the great 45s at the time. It was always tied in to learning songs. It was never about technique. That came along very incrementally.
Do you write some songs for you and some for the band? "Stars Are Crazy" on the new album sounds great, but it would have been perfect for Fleetwood Mac, too.
Yeah. You have to look at what you have in front of you at the time and use what you've got. Obviously you have to choose a grouping of songs that will fit together. I still spend a ton of time sequencing. My son who is 13 does not understand why that's important. I told him it's like a film: You can have a lot of great scenes, but you put them in the wrong order, you're not going to have a very good movie. He says, "I don't think so, Dad." ... For those of us who grew up with the album form, it'll always be important to present it (that way).
You've got an extensive U.S. tour starting this week and you filmed a show already for release. What's next?
It really just is dictated by economics, by some degree, what you can do and how long you want to stay out there doing it. ...It was kind of a strange feeling because we filmed the show a few months ago. Hope it works! If it doesn't, it's still getting filmed and still getting released here's Lindsey going down in flames!
And Fleetwood Mac?
Sometime in 2012, probably, we will reconvene, and there has been very loose talk about a new album. We don't converse a lot on the phone or in email. When we're together, we're very together. When we're not, we're not. But I'd be shocked if something didn't happen with Fleetwood Mac in 2012.
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