Buckingham Talks Fleetwood Mac

Lindsey Buckingham discusses his next project

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With their surprise appearance at President Clinton's farewell party on January 6th, Fleetwood Mac started a wave of rumours about the band's future. Following their White House performance -- which marked their first concert together in three years -- the band members began talking about a possible reunion. But at least one member of the band's most famous line-up, Christine McVie, has already decided to go her own way. The singer/pianist balked at the opportunity to play for the President and seems to have no interest in performing with the band again. So who's on board at the moment, and exactly how much faith can Fleetwood fans have in the possibility in a new album and/or tour?

Ask Lindsey Buckingham, and he doesn't sound entirely sure himself. But as we found out when we caught up with him after the Clinton send-off, the singer/guitarist is convinced his options are vast. It's just a matter of deciding whether to throw his latest batch of songs into the pot for a new Fleetwood Mac project or put them all towards a new solo album, something he hasn't done since issuing 1992's Out of the Cradle. A new Buckingham/Nicks album is also a possibility. Anything goes, and for the moment, it seems, we'll all just have to wait for him to make up his mind.

So did you have plenty of prep time for the Clinton farewell show?
No, anything but. We got a call maybe two weeks before the event and I talked to Stevie. I said, "Jeez, do you think we can pull this off? We need to rehearse, right?" They wanted an hour, so we figured we could rehearse for three days and put together just the workhorses for the set, which we did. Christine's lack of presence wasn't really felt too much. We have some singers who filled in those parts and it went very smoothly. We were involved in a small way in ushering in his administration, so it was nice to kind of complete that cycle.

Is playing before the President tougher than other gigs?
It didn't make me too nervous. I think it did make Stevie a little more nervous because she doesn't have a guitar to hide behind. I can kind of jump around and make an idiot of myself and that gets me a certain ways down the line of loosening up.

Did he have any favorite songs?
I didn't ask him and we only talked very briefly afterwards before he was whisked off to something else. But I was really surprised, there was a song called "So Afraid," which was never a single, it's always been part of the stage show, because it has a long drawn-out guitar solo at the end, and he was sitting there singing all the words to that.

There's this sense in the entertainment industry that the good days are numbered. Does it feel like the end of an era to you?
Looking at what George W. seems to be about, it's questionable what he will actually be able to get done, but what he wants to get done is a little scary. And just as a person, at least from my perspective, obviously the media does pigeonhole you, it's not necessarily fair to judge anyone on how they come across on the tube, but he's kind of scary. He seems to be totally scripted and a little blank behind the script, more than a little blank behind the script and can't really put a sentence together, and he just doesn't seem qualified. Not that he doesn't have qualified people behind him, but that has implications of its own. Hopefully at the worst, he'll be around for awhile and we'll just get over that cycle. He won't make abortion illegal or anything that bad, but I guess he could try. Most stuff he can't push through, and looking at it in a more amusing light, it might be an entertaining four years, in the Gerry Ford sense . . . times ten I guess.

So what is the status of Fleetwood Mac?
You know it's interesting, I made a joke at the show about us having worked through our own partisan politics. And I really think there is a pretty potent future for the band. In a way, Christine has really checked herself out of the situation. She sold her house in L.A. and is just residing in England. God knows what she's doing. But it kind of frees the Fleetwood Mac situation to be looked at in a fresh light and in some ways in the dynamic that Stevie and I had going before we joined the band. I think everyone's pretty up for the possibility of that and of approaching a second phase of a group much differently than just the whole epidemic of bands that were getting back together and touring and making the quick buck and then that's it. I think that would be very intriguing to try and do that. I have a whole mess of material that I've been calling a solo album. And it may still be. The other option would be to spend the next eight months or so working on material with Stevie and doing some sort of epic FM album. So I don't know. There are some options out there, and we're still looking at them. But the music I have right now, is the best that I've ever done on my own, or with Fleetwood Mac, tapping into some new areas. It becomes a little less important what you call it, the older you get. I can't tell you whether that will come out as a solo album or not. We have some options and they're all pretty good.

Is there a timeframe for the material to be produced?
I have to decide this week whether this is a solo album or not. And if you talk to the critics they'll say, put it out, what are you doing, why wouldn't you want to put it out? And if you talk to people at the record company, it depends on what your priorities are, so it's kind of scary. Not that I put solo albums out there to fail, they're for the people who want to hear that sort of thing. But the climate out there now is, God love people like Eminem, who are really doing something great. But the pop side of things, the Britney Spears sound and all of that, even though it's well-crafted, it's just a tough climate to try and think that you could really get through to a lot of people as a solo artist at age fifty. In that sense the Fleetwood Mac idea enables you to get through to a lot more people so I have to just weigh just how important or unimportant this is yet.

Is that "week" a stringent deadline?
Well it's not a stringent deadline, it's just that I've been working on my own running order and it's just something I'm so proud of. And again the people who appreciate the artistic side of things, say, "Well why would you want to put it together with a bunch of Stevie songs, it sounds like a Frankenstein project or something at that point." But then the challenge would be to make it not that. It's getting down to the wire though. You have any advice?

Could there be a Buckingham/Nicks reunion?
Well that's something else we've talked about . . . very briefly I must say. But it's interesting because Stevie and I have, that's kinda what I meant by working through partisan politics. After all of this time, we've managed to get to a point where we're comfortable. There's nothing we can't talk about. We've all been down our own particular roads that have gotten us to that point and so it's nice after all this time for both of us to have a good portion of the child remaining within us. I talked to Don Henley one time about the Eagles, and it seemed like there was so little love or idealism left in that group of people and perhaps that's more the norm for people our age. But we seem to be slightly more arrested and I think there's some potential for some good stuff because of that.

For Buckingham/Nicks that would be a pretty lengthy hiatus from which to return.
Oh yeah, but still, all of that stuff is a possibility. If I have to guess I'd say this is going to come out as a solo album. But it is a little more daunting than it was a few years ago. The older you get hopefully you work and getting less and less selfish. And that's one of the things that drives people, in order to do things that are outside the mainstream, you have to have a large ego and that you have something to offer. It's sort of a Catch 22 that part of being mature, part of growing up is letting go of certain rashness. So I don't know where that falls now.

So can we expect some sort of formal announcement when you decide?
I don't know.

Like the Bat sign.
Yeah, something like that. [Laughs].

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