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Old 04-02-2022, 01:49 PM
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Default EU/UK leg interviews - 2022 summer tour

figure there willbe some number of these interviews, so starting the umbrella thread so we don't have bunch of little threads:

Record Collector Magazine
April 2022
Terry Staunton

Musicians with careers as long and as successful as Lindsey Buckingham’s tend to have a wealth of stories to tell, but few have involved quite so many plot twists. From relatively unassuming beginnings as a recording artist via a sun-kissed album made with his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks, he was catapulted into the white heat of superstardom with Fleetwood Mac, as a creative linchpin of the makeover that brought them global acclaim. A solid, parallel solo career garnered more plaudits, if not the same sales, but there have been myriad pitfalls and problems along the way Oddly, despite the stratospheric success, he remains, in a sense, a cult artist, “I was determined to avoid becoming a caricature,” he tells Terry Staunton.

Lindsey Buckingham opens with an apology. While happy to be grilled about any and all aspects of his professional and private life, he’s concerned some events may be trickier to recall than others: “I want to say sorry in advance, in case I draw a blank on some of your questions. There may be memory lapses, especially during those years we weren’t behaving ourselves.”

The misbehavior he alludes to is a frequently referenced component in the story of Fleetwood Mac, a band whose appetite for frowned-upon substances has, in some quarters, defined them as much as any of their million-selling albums. The same can be said about the unraveling of in-house romantic entanglements that inform the contents of their most iconic work, the “musical soap opera”, Rumours. Released in early 1977, three months before Star Wars opened in US cinemas, more than one subsequent magazine article about its songs and the star-crossed lovers who made them has headlined May Divorce Be With You.

Quick-fix shorthand aside, however, Buckingham’s is a musical CV distinguished by daring, by taking risks, by refusing to zig and relishing a zag. He may have been the co-architect of the perceived pinnacle of soft rock (with worldwide sales north of 40 million), but he was also the driving force behind the often wilfully radio-unfriendly Tusk.

When the boundaries of the Fleetwood Mac blueprint were no long a workable (or welcome) fit for his spirit of musical adventure, he embarked on a parallel solo career that, while retaining many of the melodic hallmarks of the band, allowed him to scratch a relentless itch for pushing envelopes. His 2021 self-titled collection is a continuation of the sonic explorations of its six predecessors, of a hunger to remix the paints on what he refers to in this interview as his “artistic palette”.

It’s an album we should have heard when it was completed in 2018, were it not for a sequence of events no one saw coming on the last day of its recording. A request to extend his sabbatical from the group in which he’d served for a total of 43 years was met with an unceremonious sacking, and while still licking his wounds from that bolt-out-of-the-blue news, Buckinghamham was rushed to hospital to undergo triple-bypass surgery.

While recuperating and redrafting plans to take the new record to market, his private life also went into a tailspin with headlines that the man whose name was synonymous with hign-profile breakups in the rock biz, was getting a divorce from Kristen Messner, his photographer and interior designer wife of 21 years. The ending of that particular chapter has yet to be written, and the now 72-year-old Buckingham is candidly philosophical about what the future might hold.

Today he has a European tour (including his first-ever solo shows in the UK) to promote, while looking back at the highs and lows of a life in music that started with playing acid rock bass at school in the San Francisco suburb of Atherton.

Let’s begin with your first high school band, Fritz. Is that how you met Stevie Nicks?
Well, no. Stevie transferred to my school , when I was a junior, and she was a year older. We kind of knew each other in passing at after-school social clubs, that kind of thing, and there was a mutual interest in singing – possibly an attraction of some kind, but nothing acted upon that early. She’d left again by the time Fritz started in my senior year, and it was supposed to be just a one-off for a school assembly. During the summer we decided to keep the band going, but the a girl we had in the first lineup wasn’t around anymore, so we thought Stevie would make a good replacement.

You had a modicum of success didn’t you?
Yeah, we kept it up for five or six years, playing a lot of folk and acid rock. I wasn’t writing songs at that time; in fact, I was a bass player back then, We were a fairly popular band in the Bay area, and we latched onto a guy a couple of years older than us who was at Stanford University and booking gigs on campus. He did us a lot of favours by getting us opening slots for some pretty big shows, like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Moody Blues. I never got to meet any of the headliners, unfortunately.

When you and Stevie signed to Polydor as a duo in 1973 did you have a vision of what you wanted to do?
We were sort of making it up as we went along. Fritz went to Los Angeles looking for a deal without any luck, but there was some interest in Stevie and myself. A few labels saw the potential of the two of us way before we did! It sort of reinvented our vision of ourselves, thinking about how well we worked together, and it was only at that point that we became a romantic couple.

I began writing songs for the first time, although Stevie had been writing for at least a couple of years. I realised that if we were gonna do this seriously, I had to step up to the plate, in terms of originating material. I’d gotten hold of an old Ampex four-track tape machine, so I was working on stuff by overdubbing myself, bouncing tracks back and forth; the first instances of a recording practice I tend to favour still today. That’s kind of how we developed our sound, through experimenting with harmonies.

Was it pure chance that Mick Fleetwood heard you and invited you to join Fleetwood Mac?
Completely, and it’s bizarre thinking about it now. Stevie and I had put out the Buckingham Nicks album, which I’m still really proud of, and we started work immediately on a follow-up, even though both the label and our management seemed to be losing interest. We put down some demos at Sound City in LA, in the smaller of the two studios in the complex. One night I wandered over to Studio A to see what our friend [producer] Keith Olsen was doing, and as I got to the control room door, I could hear our song Frozen Love playing really loudly. I thought “What the hell is going on?”, so I opened the door, and there was Keith with this really skinny tall guy grooving to my guitar solo. It took me a minute to register who it was.

I was already a Fleetwood Mac fan, certainly a huge fan of Peter Green’s, so it was a big deal for me. The funny thing is that Mick was just looking for a studio to do the band’s next album, and Keith had just pulled out mine and Stevie’s tape as an example of his engineering work and what sounds you could get from that studio. It was so random. A couple of weeks went by, and then I got a call from Mick asking me to replace Bob Welch, who’d just left the band.

Were you nervous about joining such a well-established group? Well, I had a little nerve about me, and I said to Mick, “Yes, I’ll join your band, but you’ll have to take my girlfriend, too.” Much to his credit, and that of Christine [McVie] who was their chief songwriter, they were open to that. I have to admit there was a certain ambivalence on the part of me and Stevie, based on the fact that even though our album had come and gone making almost no dent at all, we thought things could turn around for us on the next record.

We basically made a pros and cons of what would be good about joining Fleetwood Mac and what the downsides might be.

Remember, this was a time when their records weren’t selling in huge amounts or breaking even at best; in today’s industry climate they might even have been dropped.

How quickly did you, Stevie and Christine settle into the shared labour of songwriting Was it ever competative?
It was really the opposite of that. Stevie and came in with all our ducks in a row, With a lot of songs for what was going to be our second album, and we were able to contribute pretty much on our own terms. Because we’d worked so much on our own material, pretty much two-thirds of the next Fleetwood Mac album was there, intact. Christine was very gracious, her songs worked well next to ours, and the end result was that [self-titled] album going to No 1.

The success of Fleetwood Mac would be dwarfed by Rumours. How soon after its release did you get the sense it was going to be such an anourmous hit?
Well nonone expected the first album me and Stevie were on to sell four million, but when it did it prepared us for more success; we knew we were doing something right. I don’t think what happened with Rumours ever really blew us away, because it happened incrementally. I would say we made some choices to rough up the sound a little bit, to take a few more chances. And, of course, the songs were such an embodiment of what we were going through personally, a musical soap opera of sorts, that none of us expected it to have such universal appeal. But then the success detached itself from the music, and the story of Rumours became more about that success.

Is that why you approached Tusk as an intentional reaction to Rumours?
Oh, very much so! I mean, with Tusk you can either applaud my genius or bemoan my failings, depending on your point of view! We were in this mega-successful environment where the corporate formula is if something works run it into the ground until you get every drop out of it. That’s the complete antithesis of what you should do if you aspire to be an artist.

During the post-Rumours success, I found myself listening to a lot of music that was noticeably removed from our own. I submerged myself in the new wave sounds, both from the US and the UK, because it was full of ideas, full of possibilities; there were no templates. I especially liked The Clash — gotta love The Clash! But I wouldn’t say anything specific directly influenced me, or at least I can’t remember specifics, but what it did was reinforce a notion I already had that Fleetwood Mac were at a crossroads. What do you do? Do you make your creative choices based on what the external world is expecting of you? Do you make Rumours 2 and Rumours 3? So many artists paint themselves into a corner with that thinking; they forget what made them want to make music in the first place and settle for becoming caricatures of themselves. I was determined to avoid chat, and I had a great number of ideas and new approaches I wanted to apply to the Fleetwood Mac model.

Was the thinking behind your first solo album, Law And Order, finding a home for songs that were perhaps too far removed from the Mac template?
Not really, but what did happen in the wake of Tusk was that the rest of the band became wary of the new production and recording techniques I introduced. During the making of it they were totally drawn into the process, and when we were done, they loved the results. But because it sold much less than Rumours, Mick came to me and said we weren’t going to do that process again, so I realised that if I wanted to further explore the more esoteric side of my artistic palette, I no longer had the luxury to do it within the context of the group.
It wasn’t that Law And Order was necessarily extreme, but it was a reaction to the politics that dictated the limitations to what Fleetwood Mac could and couldn’t be.

On Your next album, Go Insane, there’s a tribute to Dennis Wilson [DW Suite]. Were the two of you friends?
We weren’t really friends, but I saw him a lot because he was going out with Christine McVie for a while, so half the times I went up to her house he’d be there. I grew up listening to Beach Boys music, and Brian Wilson is probably the biggest musical hero I’ve got —the left turns he made with Pet Sounds were exemplary to me when I was working on my vision for Tusk. But Dennis was very troubled and not taking care of himself, shall we say, so DW Suite is a nod to the beautiful soul beneath that troubled exterior.

A few years later you wrote a song with Brian (He Couldn’t Get His Poor Old Body To Move) when he was under the questionable care of Dr. Eugene Landy. Were you ever witness to that?
I don’t know if Landy did Brian some good in the beginning, he may have, but in the brief time I was around him every aspect of his life was beyond his own control. Landy had what everyone called his surf Nazis, who were these young guys who were there when Landy couldn’t be, and it was a very oppressive environment. It certainly didn’t help Brian creatively, and it pains me that he was unable to really let loose. It felt like I was collaborating with an additional person who may not have been in the room but nonetheless had the power of veto over everything Brian did.

Returning to Fleetwood Mac, is it correct the songs you contributed to Tango In The Night were originally earmarked for another solo album?
Some of them were, yes, leading on from my “firsts” on Go Insane, like the use of Fairlight computer-driven keyboards and drum machines. A lot of those approaches carried over into Tango…, but that was a very hard album and ultimately led to my departure from the band — the first time! The subculture of drugs and alcohol that was prevalent in rock’n’roll in general, and to which we were no exception, was getting out of hand.

We cut most of the record at my house, in my garage studio, and it was a difficult project to host. Stevie was hardly there at all during the year we worked on the album, Mick was living in a trailer in my front yard, and everyone was pretty much borderline dysfunctional. I’m very proud of the record, it doesn’t come across as such a troubled time and I feel I was able to grab the reins and be the leader when no one else was in the frame of mind to do that. But when you contemplate taking that environment on the road, which is studio craziness times 10, I just couldn’t face it; I didn’t want to tour. I was no saint, but I was by far the one abusing substances the least, and although I didn’t want to leave the band I needed to get away from it until those guys made some changes.

Songs on your next solo album, Out Of The Cradle, seem to address both leaving the group and splitting with Stevie. Is it too lazy to suggest the album was a form of catharsis, even therapy?
I would say that’s true. I think it was the first album where I really delved into a wider range of thoughts and found a way to somehow unify them all. I was able to put a lot of issues to rest, even things about Stevie that had been hanging around in my head from way back when we were together. I think Rumours was more about compartmentalising our emotions and getting on with the bigger picture, rather than actually addressing those emotions, which is not necessarily the healthiest way to deal with things. There was no closure! I think the physical and emotional distance from Fleetwood Mac enabled me to gain a wiser perspective.

Bill Clinton had a hand in getting the five of you back together for his inauguration. I’m assuming you considered it an honour, but you didn’t enjoy it, did you?
Not especially. It wasn’t super-difficult, but it just seemed so out of context with anything we’d ever done. We were all happy that Clinton got in and had adopted Don’t Stop as his campaign theme, so we went along and presented a unified front, even though there’d not been a great deal of contact between us prior to then. I guess it did pique our curiosity about what our future might hold, and I’d say it was unlikely that Mick would have called me later to talk about getting back together for a more substantial reunion.

Was The Dance tour a happier time, then?
Well, what had happened during my absence was that Fleetwood Mac had kind of crumbled. They’d gotten other people in, and Stevie left at one point, and I think everyone in the band and at the label felt it wasn’t working, that it was on a downhill slide. In the context of that, the fact that I’d been working in the studio with Mick on solo stuff got everybody’s juices going again. We went for dinner at Christine’s house and the whole band was there. At one point they all stood around me, almost like an intervention, and basically said, “Lindsey, you gotta come back!” I was touched they wanted me to do it, and I really enjoyed that tour.

There was a six-year gap between The Dance live album and the studio set Say You Will by which time Christine had left. Without her contributing material, there’s a temptation to read yours and Stevie’s songs as a conversation between the two of you. The alternating songs seem to function as a dialogue in places.
It can certainly be read as such, but that was never the primary intention. Much of my material on the record was stuff I had already demo-ed with Mick and intended for a solo record, and Stevie came in with four new songs plus some older ones — but all four of her new ones seemed to be about me! Some of mine were probably more open to wider interpretation, I’d suggest. The absence of anything by Christine contributes to that theory, I suppose, and maybe it comes off like my songs are sung directly to Stevie, and perhaps subconsciously they are.

In terms of solo albums, you shelved the material that would ultimately appear on Gift Of Screws, and instead started from scratch with Under The Skin, which —like the new album — largely features you playing every instrument. What do you enjoy about working that way?
It’s always been a way for me to discover things. When you’re working with a band you have to verbalise your ideas, things get set in stone the more you talk about them and there are fewer opportunities to run with a fresh thought. It’s like moviemaking, in a way, whereas working alone with just a console is like painting, it can be very freeing. Maybe the song you’re doing doesn’t have to be so well defined while you’re trying stuff out, and the canvas starts speaking to you, rather than the other way round. There’s a more sublime sense of discovery you get from that, when the recording process becomes inseparable from the writing process.

The solo Seeds We Sow arrived sandwiched between two more Mac tours but no Mac album. Might your 2017 duets project with Christine have been a band release had Stevie contributed?
Well, I think the record Christine and I did was wonderful, I really love it, and yes, the idea at the start was, “Let’s make another Fleetwood Mac album”. That would have been the logical thing to do when Christine came back after a few years away from music. But, for whatever reason, I can’t really tell you why, Stevie refused to participate, and that led to what we, were doing feeling more like a personal project separate from the “brand”, if you will.

It’s the closest the two of us have ever worked together, certainly in terms of writing. I was always instrumental in producing Christine’s songs and sometimes even co-writing them without credit, whatever was needed at any particular time. I’d like to think the record reignited her passion after being away from the business. Everything she came up with was really rough, and she gave it to me to work on in my home studio before we went into a bigger studio to make the actual album. I did the same and gave her a bunch of my demos, not even demos in some cases, rough sketches of song ideas. She transformed them into something special, and it was a really interesting exercise; something we’d never done before.

Of course, now you’re the one who’s no longer in Fleetwood Mac, after your firing in 2018. Various stories surfaced in the weeks and months afterwards. Care to set the record straight?
Ironically, the tension began with my new solo album. What I initially wanted to do after coming off the road from the dates I played with Christine to promote the duet record was put out this new album and do some dates in support of it. Fleetwood Mac was planning another tour, but I asked if I could have an extra three months for myself before we started rehearsing, and I actually think most of the band would have been fine with that. But there was one person who was not fine with that.

That person being…?
The first inkling I had that something was up was conveyed to me through my manager at the time, Irving Azoff. It was passed on to me that, and I quote, “Stevie doesn’t ever want to share a stage with you again.” She never said a thing to me face-to-face, and what I think is most unfortunate is that no one else in the band wanted it to go that far, but they didn’t feel they were in a position to stand up for me. I dunno, that’s rock’n’roll, I guess, and I’ve been in the business long enough now to not be surprised by anything that happens, especially with a band that has such chequered history as ours!

What were your thoughts about the subsequent tour with your place in the lineup taken by Neil Finn and The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell?
I never saw any of the shows, so I can’t really comment on it fairly, but having looked at the setlist I thought some of the material ran a little broad. There was a lot of Peter Green stuff in there, which is fine when you consider his importance to the band’s history, but, you’ve got [Tom Petty’s] Free Fallin and[Crowded House’s] Don’t Dream It’s Over, which might be considered a little, y’know, off-the-radar. I don’t really have any specific opinions about the performances because I didn’t witness any; the only thing I would say in general is that what led to that state of affairs was nothing I’d call particularly important. Compared to what we’ve gone through in the past and were able to rise above during the 43 years of my life I spent with the band, it was a relatively easy hurdle to negotiate.

I just felt that a lot of what Fleetwood Mac was – and is – has to do with the five of us surviving, rising above the smaller problems to keep our eye on the big picture. I felt that was a good part of our legacy, and I didn’t think getting Mike and Neil in the band was the best solution to whatever conflicts there were. I actually think it’s damaged the legacy, and that’s what really bothers me.

More pressing concerns occupied you when you underwent emergency heart surgery in 2019. Did it come out of the blue, or had you had previous medical difficulties?
My family does have a history in that respect. I had a brother who passed away quite young from a heart attack, and my dad also passed away at 56 of a heart attack, but I hadn’t really had any prior problems myself. I’d had an unrelated minor procedure, and afterwards my chest was hurting. So, they took me back to hospital, and the next time I woke up they told me I’d just had a triple bypass – hey!

How has the surgery impacted on going on the road with the new album? You talked “in damage to your vocal cords, but were you worrying about how permanent it might be?
It was a problem for a while, but I got my voice back and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. So far, the indications are pretty good [Buckingham completed a 30-date North American tour in late 2021]. A lot of it is just a case of what you do with what you’ve got, and if it looks like I’m not gonna reach certain notes night after night we can always lower the key of the song.

You published a Tweet last June to announce the new album, saying its long delay was due to “unforeseen circumstances”. In addition to the surgery, do those circumstances include you and Kristen filing for divorce, the news of which broke a few days earlier?
Well, y’know, long before that went public Kristen had decided she wanted to take a break, so she’s been living in a rented house for a while, just to get some space. Yes, we did file for divorce, but I would say we’re still a work in progress, and I think it’s certainly quite possible we’re gonna work things out. That happens with a lot of couples, even after papers have been filed. I don’t know, I’m trying not to over-think that stuff, because there’s only so much I can do to control it. I’m mostly concerned for her, and I just want her to be happy, but I gotta take all that one day at a time.

So, in some respects, continuing to promote the record is a welcome distraction?
It’s good to stay busy. So much of my career, and my life, has been about moving forward and finding ways to survive. Yeah, I like to think of myself as a survivor.


Law And Order
(Asylum, SE561.LP, UK, 1981)
The left-field experimentation of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk continues, in a more organic and under-produced form. Angular post-punk, tempered by flashes of retro mainstream pop.

Go Insane
(Elektra 606631, LP, UK, 1984)
A one-man show, with the assistance of Linn drum and Fairlight programmes, giving many of the songs a cold detachment in keeping with the ennui of their lyrics.

Out Of The Cradle
(Mercury 5126582, CD, UK, 1992)
A title lifted from a reflective Walt Whitman poem, and songs that pointedly address his recent estrangement from Mac and more historical feelings about Stevie Nicks.

Seeds We,Sow,
(Back On Black RCV078, 2LP reissue, clear red vinyl, Europe, 2013) Alluring lo-fi acoustic pop with multi-layered harmonies and deft baroque undertones, this is arguably Buckingham’s most intimate-sounding album.

Lindsey Buckingham
(Reprise R1643345, LP, UK, 2021)
Waiting in the wings since 2018, a deliciously rich cocktail of hook-filled melodies and to-die-for harmonies, given extra texture by the occasional ambient chaser.

Buckingham plays Glasgow, Liverpool and London in May.
The ernymous album is on Reprise.

"kind of weird: a tribute to the dearly departed from a band that can treat its living like trash"
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Old 04-02-2022, 08:52 PM
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This may hold the record for the longest post ever.
Christine McVie- she radiated both purity and sass in equal measure, bringing light to the music of the 70s. RIP. - John Taylor(Duran Duran)
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