San Diego Union Tribune (Under the Skin) Interview
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE November 2, 2006
Lindsey Buckingham chose to focus on a more spare sound for his new solo effort
George Varga,POP MUSIC CRITIC
Lindsey Buckingham is world famous as the guiding musical light of Fleetwood Mac, a band he has been a key member of since the mid-1970s. But he harbors no false hopes for the commercial success of "Under the Skin," his first solo album in 14 years.
A left-of-center work that becomes more enchanting with repeat listenings, it features nine proudly quirky new songs. The album, which has earned raves in such disparate publications as Rolling Stone, Blender and The New York Times, also boasts lovingly re-crafted versions of Donovan's 1965 chestnut "To Try for the Sun" and the Rolling Stones' 1966 gem "I Am Waiting." No doubt, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards will appreciate the royalties they'll get from this new version of their 40-year-old song.
"I'm sure it will be all of about 10 bucks!" Buckingham chortled, speaking from a recent tour stop in Boston.
Self-deprecating banter aside, he couldn't be happier with the dramatically scaled-down scope of his solo career.
Buckingham's current tour in support of "Under the Skin" is his first -- sans Fleetwood Mac -- since a 1992 solo trek with a 10-piece group. He and his new three-man band perform tonight at Viejas Casino's cozy DreamCatcher lounge. Its 518-capacity is nearly 19,000 less than Coors Amphitheatre, where he played two years ago with Fleetwood Mac.
"Until you go to an arena as a spectator and see a band, you tend to forget how ill-suited arenas are for music," he said.
"Obviously, playing to a huge crowd has its benefits. But inherent to playing to 1,000 people or less is the idea that they act as one. . They are a single entity that reacts to you in the same time frame and tends to be there for you. Because it's a smaller and more select group of people, it tends to elevate what you are doing a little more. In a large arena there's a tendency to broaden everything out, and it's not always good for the music."
The intimate nature of the stripped-down songs on Buckingham's new album is far better suited to a small venue. Largely autobiographical, his new songs balance his restless creative spirit with his palpable joy as a happily married father of three young kids.
"I waited a long time before I got married and had children," he said. "Because I saw a lot of my friends who weren't there for their kids as they grew up, and the children suffered. I didn't want to do something that wouldn't honor the upbringing my parents gave me."
Partly recorded on the run in hotel rooms during Fleetwood Mac's 2003-04 world tour, "Under the Skin" reflects Buckingham's passion for making carefully crafted music.
But this time he favors a more spare sound that focuses on his singing and deft guitar work. His previous emphasis on intricate arrangements, which at times took on an almost orchestral scope, is replaced by a more earthy approach that is no less artful but decidedly less dense.
"I was seeking to focus on musical craft, but a more centered, less pretentious version of that," he said. "This album is very much about things I didn't do. There's almost no drums and no bass to speak of, although there are percussion touches. I was interested in preparing something that was pared down to more of a musical essence, and yet that still had a fairly heathy sense of production values."
Only the fourth solo album of his four-decade career, "Under the Skin" leaves no doubt that Buckingham, 57, still thrives on working out of the mainstream and on taking chances. Already planning his next album, a more rock-oriented work, he is also gearing up for new work with Fleetwood Mac, whose success he regards as a double-edged sword.
Buckingham is proud of the group, but doesn't want to be defined by it alone. This holds true artistically speaking and in terms of his historically tempestuous relationship with Mac singer Stevie Nicks.
"It is a burden at times," he said of the Anglo-American band, which he and ex-paramour Nicks joined in 1974.
"But you could say, in a more broad sense, that creativity could be a burden. If you want to keep doing it, you have to keep your eye on the ball and move forward, and not rest on your laurels. After the success of `Rumours' (Fleetwood Mac's career-defining, 25 million-selling 1977 album), I wanted to reject the idea we had to do `Rumours 2' and the idea we couldn't take chances. .
"Being in something that successful, you do tend to see the limitations of it, in terms of how everyone wants to formulize it and run it into the ground. I guess that's still the person I am. I try to remind myself why I got into this to begin with, which is that I love music. I'd like to think I now have the best of both worlds."
2006-11-02 Number of views: