LB Interview with Halifax Daily News (Nova Scotia) 2007
April 15, 2007 Sunday
HEADLINE: Still going his own way
BYLINE: Bernard Perusse, CanWest News Service
If it's possible to be the architect of a band's sound and still seem like you don't always fit in the group, Lindsey Buckingham would be the living proof.
Buckingham, with partner Stevie Nicks, joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 and virtually transformed the erstwhile blues band's approach. Within a couple of years, Rumours was dominating the airwaves with tight-hook, easy-on-the-ears pop.
All that remained was to keep cloning that album every year or two and let the cash roll in. Typically, though, Buckingham pushed the group to follow their mega-success with the comparatively uncommercial double album, Tusk, which has sold roughly a fifth of the 30-million-worldwide figure attributed to Rumours.
"What all the new music that came out in the late '70s did for me was to give me reinforcement to go out and do what I thought was important to do," Buckingham recalled during a telephone interview last week.
"(That) was to keep trying new things, to remain true to your imagination and not to fall into the further trap of adhering to what, say, a record company would like you to be - to define yourself as others would like to have you defined."
And if those who embraced the minimalist power surge of punk and new wave still looked at platinum sellers such as Fleetwood Mac as the enemy at that time, the point was lost on the guitarist.
"That kind of talk didn't have any resonance with me because, to some degree, I was, within Fleetwood Mac, the subverting factor anyway. I couldn't tell whose side I was on," he said, laughing.
Buckingham's solo career - only four albums in 25 years - has walked the same unpredictable path, keeping fans of his wired, intense, Brian Wilson-influenced pop constantly hungry for more. On his current tour, Buckingham is playing some solo favourites - heavy on material from his sublime recent disc, Under the Skin - with a few Mac classics thrown in to satisfy everyone.
Yes, Fleetwood Mac is still together, but the volatile chemistry within the group has made joint projects a risky business. One need only see the documentary Destiny Rules, about the preparations leading up to the recording of the 2004 album Say You Will, to understand - and sometimes cringe at - the dynamics that drive one of rock's most dysfunctional families.
The tension began with Rumours. Both Nicks and Buckingham and John and Christine McVie split up during the sessions.
"(We just lived) in denial, with feelings (we) had all compartmentalized and walled up," he said. "None of us ever got closure and none of us ever had any time not to see each other.
"It was very difficult. And I think the residue from that was that there were a lot of questions, a lot of defences hanging out there long after the situation had disappeared."
At one point, in 1987, Buckingham left the group after what has been reported as an ugly confrontation.
"Everybody's level of craziness was at the max at that point," he said, adding that Nicks was rarely present at the sessions.
"It was very, very difficult - not only in terms of availability, but in terms of people's clarity, the way that they were conducting themselves," he said. "And what happens is, if things are crazy in a studio, it's usually times five on the road.
"I hit the wall. It was a survival move, pure and simple. I never regretted it for a minute."
The group carried on without him, drawing lukewarm reaction. Time having healed some wounds, Buckingham began working with his former bandmates again in 1997.
A year later, he and his girlfriend, Kristen, had their first child, William, now 8. They have since married and added Leelee, 6, and Stella, 2, to the family.
You can hear William summoning his father on the home studio intercom at the end of Flying Down Juniper, Under the Skin's closing track.
"I'd just finished the take, and all of a sudden, 'Dinner, Daddy!' So I had to leave it in. It's a perfect ending," Buckingham said.
At 57, Buckingham is facing the demands of young children, and declaring himself up for the challenge. "I'm a pretty energetic 57, " he said.
"I wasn't married before. I don't have an older set of children. I don't have a set of comparison points. On the other side of the spectrum, my God, my mom and dad got married right out of college. So my mom was, like, 21, maybe 22 when she had my older brother.
"If it's a choice between being a child yourself and having a child, or being someone who's at least been allowed to go through a process and get to a point where they feel they've got a perspective on themselves, I would think, in some ways, you're better suited to being a parent at a later point."
Under the Skin belies the oft-repeated myth that domestic bliss is the enemy of great art. Buckingham said his life now has even provided him with some answers that had eluded him.
"It has put everything in a completely different perspective," he said. "I think it's allowed me to look at the world far more tenderly, and it certainly has created a whole second act to my personal life. I mean, this is the best time of my life."
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