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Mac attack........


From the Oregonian:

When a band such as Fleetwood Mac -- once enormously successful, now slightly long in the tooth and known for its fractious history -- mounts a reunion tour, lots of folks start clucking about the sound of cash registers. The assumption is that the tables at Spago started getting harder to come by or the cocaine budget was strained or the yacht needed repairs, or maybe they just wanted more of everything. Why else would emeritus rock stars bother?

Lindsey Buckingham has a better reason: "I'm quite intrigued by the idea of a group of people in their 50s going out and making the best music of their careers."

Fleetwood Mac's latest album, "Say You Will," might not have bumped their '70s classic "Rumours" from pride of place in your record collection, but it does give Buckingham and his bandmates -- singer Stevie Nicks and the founding team of drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie -- plenty of reason to be intrigued. Blending Buckingham's penchant for experimentation with healthy doses of lush pop-rock appeal, it's the sound of a band returned to the top of its game, a quarter-century on from limelight time as the music world's most creatively fruitful soap opera.

Things haven't come back together again quite as they were. For one thing, Christine McVie, one of the three singer-songwriters at the heart of the band, and the bassist's ex-wife, opted out. For another, the remaining members appear to be happy, healthy and stable.

Buckingham, not just a singer, writer and guitarist but also the group's production mastermind, spoke with The Oregonian about the tour that brings the Mac to the Rose Garden arena for a Friday night show. Here are excerpts from that interview, edited for length, clarity and to omit the interviewer's fawning digressions about Buckingham's last solo album ("Out of the Cradle").

What was particularly appealing and/or challenging about working as a group again?
For me in particular, I was intrigued to see what I had to give back to Stevie's material after all this time. When we started working on these things, Stevie was away on tour; it was just the guys. And we wondered how it was going to go socially when Stevie got off the road and rejoined us. "Is this thing going to take on a life of its own?" And it really started to do that. The situation took on a certain gravity, as Fleetwood Mac tends to do.

Were you torn about sacrificing your material, yet again, to the altar of the band?
I can't say I was hugely torn. I was a little ambivalent about it becoming what it is. But now that I'm older and have a family, I start seeing things in the bigger picture. It's been a long time -- about eight years since I started on some of these tracks -- and it just seemed like this is what it wanted to wind up being.

There never was a point in Fleetwood Mac where I didn't feel like I'd rather be in the Clash, or something. But especially when you're in a situation that gets really huge -- and no one foresaw what would happen with "Rumours" -- you find yourself in this position where you have to play the hand out.

Is it a conscious trade-off for you: giving up some control and the personal vision of a solo album for the greater visibility the band affords you?
The trade-off is not just visibility. It's not just the work. It's about the people coming out the other side of what we started in '75 -- or, to me and Stevie, in '73. All of us coming out less damaged than anyone might have expected. In many ways, this is the happiest time of my life. There are so many things going well for me now, and it feels like a karmic. I really worked to not put out the negative energy to derail it all.

Speaking of happiness, your new songs certainly aren't all sunshine and bunnies, but your angst does seem much more outwardly directed. Is that a result of fatherhood turning your attention away from yourself and toward the world around you?
I will never be a political writer, but you can look at the world and put what's out there in a subjective way . . . Things like "Peacekeeper" and "What's the World Coming To," those songs are just human cries. They're not about anything that's happened in the past couple of years; they were written well before that. They're just about the loss of individual voice and the desensitization that seems to be expanding, about the detachment that goes along with power -- these things that you look at out there and hope will somehow find a balance. And I think having a family -- to some degree buying into middle-class life -- that changes what you are concerned with and write about.

How big is the band for this tour?
Kind of in the same way that the joke when I left Fleetwood Mac was that they had to use two people to replace me, now people are saying that 'cause Christine's gone we had to add all these other people; when really it's the same setup we had for the "The Dance," just about.

In the earlier years, what we had to do with just the five of us up there was paraphrase down. So it's nice to be able to kind of orchestrate some of the songs more the way they were on the album.

Some reviews of the tour have suggested that Christine's absence unbalances the band, taking out the comforting middle ground and leaving just you and Stevie as the eccentric extremes. How does the two-singer format feel to you?

There are people who are going to come in wanting a femaleness and loving Stevie's thing and not like what I do. I recall reading one review that complained about "Lindsey's rampaging ego." I'd rather have that than have someone not feel my presence.

For me, I feel it makes for a show that's deeper. Christine had songs that were more fun; they weren't usually incisive on an emotional level. It allows Steve and I to get back to some of the two-part singing we started out doing. And also, the three-piece as the core band has more room to maneuver without Christine's piano. I've never heard John and Mick play better. I see it as a strength, and it's just a matter of people getting used to it.

Has the reunion been easier this time because you'd been through it with "The Dance"?
I can't say it's easier because of that, but the significance of "The Dance" was that it showed us we were still a band -- not so much us as musicians, but as friends, as a group that can work together. Sometimes there's that spell that's over people and when you come back together it's just not there anymore. This was definitely not that.

That whole time (in the '70s) was fraught with turmoil for all of us in so many ways. So much so that a lot of people came to see that as the engine (for creative success). Was that turmoil the whole thing? It turns out that it wasn't.


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