Lindsey Buckingham Interview

It’s easy to forget that Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled 1975 album, the one with “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me,” wasn’t their first—it was their 15th. The reason for the band’s commercial breakthrough is largely attributed to the introduction of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the lineup. But this was one fucked up Brady Bunch, and it wasn’t long before Buckingham decided to “go his own way”…

So you were born in Palo Alto and went to Menlo Atherton High with Stevie Nicks? I am from there too! (I went to Sacred Heart Prep, the rival High School…)

-Oh really? So we’re a couple of rich kids huh? I had an idyllic childhood. Then Stevie and I moved down to LA to pursue a career in music with the band we were with at the time. Buckingham-Nicks, just me and Stevie. It’s a city that doesn’t inherently make sense, you know, LA is kind of a mess. But you’ve got to find your place in the city. Once you do, it’s alright. We struck up and we had to be in LA, or touring around everywhere else. You know, I have kids now and we’ve lived here for so long, I guess you could say I like it here in LA.

Right, you have an interesting background in music. You are self-taught and don’t read music, so what are your thoughts on how music has changed you and how is your experience with music is special?

-Yes my first instrument was the ukulele. And my parents eventually bought me a guitar. I would be using my fingers rather than a pick. And I would say that music has defined me rather than changed me. I was part of a time. You know, Elvis and what was going on at Haight and Ashbury. Rock and Roll. I would be in my room plucking along to records for hours at a time. I think my parents were wondering, “What is wrong with Lindsey?” My siblings and I, we grew up swimming, there’s a lot of that in Atherton. I was into swimming for a while, but it was music that was my passion. I was just really influenced by Elvis and the records that I had. I wanted to do that.

Can you tell me about your compositional process?

-I don’t think of myself as a writer of songs, but as a stylist. Like a painter painting, I go into a sort of meditative place. In my solo productions I am playing multiple instruments. So I am working with a blank canvas. If you allow yourself to be an antenna, the work just comes to you.

How much are your songs autobiographical?

-Well I think it’s impossible, as an artist, not to infuse your work with your own experience and point of view. For example, when we made Rumours, Christine and John were going through divorce and Stevie and I were breaking up. Even if we thought the songs we were making were generic, years later we realized what they were all about. It was a hard time, there was a lot of hurt and backlash. I don’t know how we managed to do it, really.

What was “Bleed to Love Her” about?

-(Pause). It was about someone I knew a long time ago who was very elusive with her emotions. I felt like I was bleeding all over the place. But you can’t force someone to take emotional risks, it just didn’t happen.

What was “Go Your Own Way” about? Just kidding. So, Gift of Screws, what did the material come from?

-There’s been sort of a pattern that as I’m poised to release solo work or in the process, the band will come in and “intervene”. Gift of Screws was a solo project I had presented to Warner Bros. in 2001, and it was proposed that Fleetwood Mac should record a handful of the songs. "Murrow Turning Over In His Grave", "Miranda", "Red Rover", "Come", "Steal Your Heart Away", "Bleed to Love Her" and "Say Goodbye" were therefore appearing on Fleetwood’s record Say You Will and in substantially the same form you know. The project is its own now, it is more experimental and less acoustic than my solo record from last year. There are a few older songs, still, that were stragglers, waiting to find a home.

What do you think of current music? Do you like electronic music?

-I think there’s some things that are new and interesting and a lot of crap, really. I like electronic music and the new brand of electronic-rock. I can’t remember all the stuff that’s new that I’ve been listening to lately, but I always buy new stuff.

So what’s up for next year?

-Well, the old lineup is basically going to come back together. I think we’re in a much better place. We were all such different people really. It was amazing that we could all be in the same band, it was a band that should never have been, but I guess that’s what made it work too. Christine McVie won’t be joining us though. We’ll practice some in the first few months of the year, and then probably go on tour in the Spring or Summer. Then there’s talk of another album. It’s a lot more commercial, you know, the tour thing. I don’t always like doing it. But, you know, it’s good.

Sounds like Thunder…
Gift of Screws is out now on Warner Bros/Reprise Records. Sheryl Crow was rumored to be joining the band to take McVie’s place when they go on tour in 2009, but that rumor has since been squashed. Phewww, that was close.


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