Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lindsey Buckingham Interview on Fleetwood Mac with M Music & Musicians Magazine

These days the road has never been smoother for the Hall of Fame rockers

Fleetwood Mac has been virtually synonymous with two things—classic songs and internal drama. Both aspects were epitomized on the group’s 1977 multiplatinum album Rumours, but only recently has their legendary volatility been stripped away.

“If you go back to 2003, when we were coming off the making of Say You Will, there was still a bit of tension between Stevie and me,” says Lindsey Buckingham of his Fleetwood Mac foil, singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks. “That polarity worked onstage and made for an interesting show. By 2009 when we toured again that tension had sort of been neutralized. Now it’s swung completely the other way—we’re getting along great.”

That camaraderie has been playing out to perfection on tour and in the studio. Prior to hitting the road,

Buckingham, Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie (Christine McVie left the band in 1998) cut eight songs with producer Mitchell Froom. Four of those tunes—three by Buckingham, one by Nicks—were compiled onto an EP titled Extended Play. “I thought it would be great to cut some new stuff,” says Buckingham. “It was a great experience.”

Meanwhile Fleetwood Mac’s shows are drawing more fans than at any time since the early 1980s. “I take that as evidence people not only have a renewed appreciation of what we’ve done,” says Buckingham, “but also that they’re fully accepting of the band in its present incarnation.” In a candid conversation, Buckingham delves into the band’s inner dynamic and the future of Fleetwood Mac.

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How did you write for the EP?
The way I write for the band has cross-pollinated with how I write as a solo artist. With solo work you could make an analogy to painting, where you’re sitting one-on-one with a canvas. Writing for the band, especially in the old days, was more like moviemaking—you bring in a song the same way you have a script before you start rolling cameras. Over the years those two ways of working have entered the same arena for me. What defines a song as a Fleetwood Mac song isn’t so much the song as it is simply having John and Mick on it. They put a stamp on the song that’s quite individual and distinctive.
And Stevie?

Stevie writes lyrics and then puts them away. Later she’ll pull them out and begin trying to attach melodies. It’s a slightly less free-associative thing compared to the way I do it. What makes the whole thing work is that her process and her style don’t necessarily fit with mine. You could make that case about Fleetwood Mac. The members don’t necessarily belong together—but it’s the synergy of these things that makes it work.

Why bring in an outside producer?
I produced Say You Will, and it created a certain tension with Stevie. Her perception of that album was fairly negative, and she wasn’t happy with me when we got to the end of that process. I didn’t want to put myself in that position again. I wanted someone with the ability to mediate the situation.

What’s touring like now?
It’s great. We take these breaks, and everyone’s individual lives wind their way down the road, and when we come back together the equation is slightly different every time. When you’ve been doing this for a while, the perception from the audience shifts a bit. Both those things have changed for the better on this tour. It’s sort of a lovefest onstage now. Plus, in the past three years, the crowd’s appreciation of the body of work seems to have ramped up. And the audiences are skewing younger.

What’s changed without Christine?
The way things evolved when we got with Mitchell Froom wasn’t significantly different from when Christine was there. When Christine left, what it did for me, ironically, was allow me to be more of who I am, which is kinetic and connected to the physical and emotional side of what I’m doing onstage. When Christine left, suddenly we were dividing the material more or less down the middle. That gave me the impetus to explore things—guitar pieces and so forth. Having two writers has allowed me to grow a lot within the context of Fleetwood Mac.

Any lessons learned over the years?
There was a point at which the success of Rumours became not about the music, but about success itself. At that point you’re not only functioning in something like a tabloid world, you’re functioning in an area that has a danger of eating you up and encouraging you to lose the sense of who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. There’s an axiom in the business that more or less says, “If something works, run it into the ground and then move on.” But what we did in the post-Rumours environment was to make the Tusk album. That was my brainchild—I’ll take the credit or the blame. That album confounded everyone’s expectations, but it also represented a choice toward risk-taking, a choice to take the high road in terms of why you’re doing something.

Is a full-length album expected soon?
The way we do things in Fleetwood Mac is always a political minefield. If it’s not Stevie, it’s me—someone is always causing trouble. [laughs] I know Warner Brothers is dying to get an album from us, even though we’re not signed to them anymore. Stevie needs to come to the table with some material. She has one song on the EP, but it’s not a new song. In order to contemplate a new album, Stevie has to want to do it. We’ve talked about it in general terms and decided we would just go out on the road and do this. When this year is done, we’ll have to figure out our 2014.

Does Stevie have reservations?
It’s a little complicated for her. She’s coming off the project with Dave Stewart a couple of years ago. She had a wonderful experience making that album. She watched me take three years off to do Under the Skin and Gift of Screws, and she’s seen how that helped me grow. Plus, she doesn’t just toss songs off the way I do. She hasn’t said this—this is just me—but knowing Stevie, she’s probably thinking, “If I have to write five new songs, do I want to give them to Fleetwood Mac?” And that’s fair enough. I think she’s feeling a bit protective and territorial about the experience she had doing her solo project. And I can totally relate to that. But at some point we have to be a band and we have to make commitments. I think the key with Stevie is not to push her too much. She doesn’t want to feel she’s backed into a corner.

Are you optimistic about the band?
Absolutely. I don’t know how you could not be, when you look at the business we’re doing, the reception we’re getting, and how well we’re playing. There seems to be something afoot that’s quite remarkable this time around. It would be a shame not to play that out. There are a lot of things we could do next year—an album or more touring. This band has a great history. It’s worth dignifying.

–Russell Hall
M Music and Musicians Magazine

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Please, please, please Stevie Nicks, the world is craving a new Fleetwood Mac album! A Stevie Nicks song in the Fleetwood Mac context is still a Stevie Nicks song and absolutely magical just like Lindsey's songs! That is the power and beauty of Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac, whether it's solo or together!! I know because all of your songs have been the soundtrack of most of my wonderful life!

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