The year 2013 will mark the 40th anniversary of the introduction of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to the world—not as members of Fleetwood Mac, but as part of what we can think of as a prequel, their Buckingham/Nicks duo act. The timing may be coincidental, but there will be plenty of celebrating going on, as Fleetwood Mac heads out on the road for the first time in three years. Tickets just went on sale for a nine-week, 34-city tour that begins April 4 and includes stops at Madison Square Garden April 8 the Hollywood Bowl May 25.
Nicks and Buckingham sat for separate interviews with Yahoo!, and we were fascinated to find points of convergence on certain issues and divergence on others. For instance, they agree that they’re getting along better than they have in many years. They differ on why that is—but with these two, and the harmonic tension that has always played into fans’ fascination with Fleetwood Mac, would you want it any other way?
Buckingham put it this way, on the group’s cycles of coming apart and back together: “Unlike some groups like the Eagles who always seem to know what they want and —and they most of the time seem to want it at the same time, and there’s something to be admired about that—we are a group who clearly you could make a case for saying does not even belong being in the same group together. A group of people with our sensibilities can be seen as so different at times that you could say, ‘What are these guys doing in the same band?’ But it’s the synergy of that that makes it work. There’s also a far more political landscape that exists because of that.”
These so-called politics led to a dispute over which year this tour would take place, and whether there would be a new album to tour behind or not. But for fans who like product, there is the promise of two newly recorded singles, a Rumours deluxe reissue, and maybe even a Buckingham/Nicks reissue with a new song. And both Stevie and Lindsey sound energized by the prospect of getting out to play arenas again after their respective solo jaunts of the last two years.
Still, there were just enough differences in their takes on this latest iteration of Mac coming back together that we thought we’d present it as a “he said/she said.” May their fruitful near-harmoniousness never cease.
THE TOUR DELAY
The original plan had been for Fleetwood Mac to hit the road in 2012. What happened? Mick Fleetwood went on record complaining that Nicks had stalled their plans by continuing her solo tour an extra year. She was not pleased about being called out for that.
“ I completely beat Mick up about that, because he was not thinking when he did that article. Mick knows more than anybody how loyal I am to Fleetwood Mac. When I went to do my solo career in 1981, I sat everybody down and said, ‘Listen, I am not leaving Fleetwood Mac ever. And you can believe me, that’s a promise. I am only doing a solo career because I have so many extra songs that I need another vehicle, so that when we come home and you guys all go off on these great big vacations, I’ll just go and work on a record and then I’ll go out and do a three-month tour, and then I’ll be ready when you start up again. I’m never going to be the one to break up this band, so don’t ever put that on me.’ And I have been true to my word through everything.”
“Yes, Fleetwood Mac was supposed to be going out last year and touring, and yes, Stevie’s reneging on that did cause a certain amount of frustration in the ranks. But you know, I don’t think there’s any way you can point fingers at anybody. We’ve all been ones to cause trouble at one time or another. And I would not begrudge her—nor did I begrudge her—following her bliss to the point of getting to 2013.”
“In May 2011 I released my solo record In Your Dreams, which is my heart, my favorite record I’ve ever done. I had a long talk with Mick in maybe October going into November 2011, and they really wanted to tour last year. I said no—no—for two reasons: ‘I believe that In Your Dreams deserves another year, because in this day and age of the music business being in such dire straits, as far as getting your record company to spend any money, I’m my own person who’s backing up this record. It’s not Warner Bros. So I’m going back out next year and I’m gonna tour all next year for In Your Dreams, and I will be available to Fleetwood Mac January 2013.’ And number two, in my opinion, there should always be three years between Fleetwood Mac tours. Because—as we have always been told by our managers, who are very creative—you should get out of the public eye. Because if you just saw us a year and a half ago, we’re not gonna be at the top of your priority list the summer of 2012. If you want to make your show an event, the best thing is to get out of the spotlight for three years. Now it’s the perfect harmonic convergence. And everybody now is definitely knowing that I was right. They always have to admit it somewhere down the line.”
“There was a long period of time years ago where I had a sense of frustration because I, on more than one occasion, had gone in the studio and had the intention to put out a solo album, and that particular effort would get co-opted by the band. And if you’re in a band, and you call yourself a band member in good standing, you really need to think about that maybe first, at least most of the time. And so I got this sort of built-up frustration at not being able to get at some things that I wanted to do on my own. And after we did Say You Will back in 2003-4, I asked for a three-year period—which is probably where Stevie got that— to make two solo albums back to back and to tour behind them. But see, for me, I got that out of my system. So I do not necessarily have something as arbitrary as a three-year minimum in-between doing Fleetwood Mac tours. I mean, I think it should be whatever everyone feels it should be. And so Stevie, I think right now, is professing a certain length of time between Fleetwood Mac tours becauuuuuuse—and this is just my opinion…”
“Even if I hadn’t taken last year to tour with In Your Dreams, we still shouldn’t have toured last year. Lindsey got to go out and do a bunch of gigs by himself, which is brave, to go out with a guitar and do an hour and a half. He got to play all his favorite songs— there’s nobody telling him what to do, so he could do anything he wants. And Mick has a blues band in Hawaii, and he plays all over the islands and he loves it. He’s been trying to open a restaurant there for years and it finally opened up in the summer. And John McVie lives on Oahu; he’s a Hawaiian person now. He never comes back to the mainland, hardly. He’s a bass player. He plays the bass, and he just kind of does his life and when Fleetwood Mac comes up and gets ready to go, he’s thrilled.”
“… Well, first of all, she watched me do this thing where I did solo work and came back and brought that energy back to the band. She hadn’t had a very good experience making an album or touring in quite a while. Then she did [In Your Dreams] a couple years ago with Dave Stewart, and she had a wonderful experience making it. And I think when she started to tour behind that and started to feel the energy coming back from that, she was sort of loath to give it up…. Whether or not we’ve got to take three years off every time, I don’t know. I think she’s saying that, again, in a bit of an arbitrary way. I would not agree with that as anything that’s written in stone by any means, you know.”
THE NEW MATERIAL.. OR LACK OF IT
Fleetwood Mac will be releasing two new songs before the tour begins: “Sad Angel” and “Miss Fantasy,” both written by Buckingham but sung largely by Nicks. As it turns out, there are more in the can—by the Nicks-less trio of Buckingham, McVie, and Fleetwood, anyway. So why is this the second tour in a row with no new album to promote? Is two songs enough, since times have changed and that’s two more than we got circa the 2009 tour, anyway?
“I was up at Lindsey’s house about three weeks ago, and we did some work on some music. We’ve done two songs, and they came out great. You know, in this day and age, nobody is sitting around waiting for an album from anybody. And that’s unfortunate. That’s not how we want it. If we had felt that there was a reason to rent a house and go into a house for eight months to do a (full-length) record, we would have. But I think we’ll throw these two songs out between December and our first show, in the way that we do these days, which I’m not really familiar with, because I’m not a computer person. If I make another solo record, it’s not going to have 14 songs on it; it’s probably going have eight songs on it. Because it doesn’t seem that the world wants 14 songs now. In fact it seems that the world really only wants two or three songs. So we’ve changed our heads around a little bit because of the way the music business is, not because of what we want to do. If the world was still the same as it was 10 years ago, we would have been going in to do a record right now.”
“As far as the idea of not understanding an era in which albums are not appreciated as an art form in the way they once were, well, you know, when I first started listening to rock & roll, albums were throwaways. I mean, singles were everything. Albums had not been defined as an art form yet. Usually maybe the first two songs were the singles and everything else was a throwaway. So perceptions come and go. But, having said that, most everybody is out there making albums still anyway and still thinking of it to a certain degree as an art form--and that the quality level needs to hold throughout the album as much as possible.”
“Those are both written by Lindsey. But I really like ‘em. The boys went in at the beginning of the year for a couple weeks and recorded about eight songs. I was supposed to go, but my mom had just died on the 28th of December, and they went in in February, and I was in no shape to go into a studio and record or write anything. Then I got pneumonia again, so I was very sick in February and March. It’s funny, because my mom died of pneumonia with complications from emphysema from smoking for 60 years. And I just kind of went underground for about six months, so I wasn’t available. So they recorded several songs, and they’re all good. And I chose one, and Lindsey chose one. And I put vocals on them, and we played around with them, and they came out great. Even though I didn’t write them, I think they’re very representative of me. As Lindsey told me, ‘I tried very hard when I was writing these songs to make them you. It’s not about you… of you.’ And I can hear that in these songs… Because I just came off tour and Lindsey just came off tour, we would be starting an (entire) album right now. But that’s not the way that the world is. So we thought, we will do two songs.”
“I think there’s a little bit of a rationalization there, too, only in the sense that I don’t think she’s got a bunch of new material sitting around. And if she did, I think she might be a bit torn about what she wanted to do with that material. My sense is that she’s going to want to go in and do another solo album at some point. So I think she would feel a lot of pressure right now coming up with new stuff for Fleetwood Mac. I mean, I’m not worried about whether we do an album or not. The first thing that I did, when I found out we weren’t going to tour, in 2012 I just wanted to make sure we did something that was constructive. So for a couple of months, I worked on some very rough new song ideas, and then I got John and Mick over from Hawaii. And even though Stevie was on the road, I was trying to sell the idea of the album to her then, and she didn’t want to do it. But John and Mick and I cut these tracks, and they’re tremendous. I think for whatever it means, they’re the most Fleetwood Mac-y things I’ve heard in a long time. And Stevie did not really warm up to them, but it’s my opinion that she was not prepared to warm up to them, because she had an idea of not really wanting to support the idea of an album. And that’s fair enough, too, I suppose. But… again, these things have been sitting around for a while. Stevie came over. She started liking them more once she sang on a couple of them. And who knows where that’s gonna lead. Obviously we’re not putting out an album before this tour starts, but let’s just wait and see what happens. The problem right now is that I’ve got like eight songs sitting around, and Stevie hasn’t brought any in. So whether or not that changes down the line remains to be seen. I’m not concerned about it one way or the other. You know, his material will find its way somewhere eventually. So I don’t care. I just want her to be happy, you know?”
THE INTERPERSONAL MELLOWING OF FLEETWOOD MAC
From all indications—or at least these two indications—things went swimmingly during the Buckingham/Nicks recording sessions in November. But, naturally, they don’t see 100 percent eye-to-eye on why they got along so well.
“I had a great time at his house, and I had a great time spending time with his three children and seeing a whole different side. Because he has two little girls and a son, and he lives in a world of women, really. It’s very much softened him up, because when you live in a house full of girls, it has to. He has a son, but you know boys—he stays in his room. The girls are everywhere, and they’re all about their dad. They’re all over him. He’s living in girl world! And it’s great for me, because it’s made him different. It’s made him softer and more understanding of women in general. So it’s really good, and we’re in a really good place. We had a really crazy photo session together and that was a lot of fun. so I see really good things coming from this. I feel really good about it. This is nothing like the 2009 tour. The 2009 tour was abrasive and not very happy. This is different. This is a better time, a better place, a better way.”
So we’re talking about the feminization of… “…of Lindsey Buckingham! [Laughs.] You know, when little girls are balleting through your house, it has to affect you. And they ride horses, and they have their winning ribbons. They’re little amazing athletes. He comes from a family of three boys, so this is very different. And I’m really glad he had girls, because he’s really in touch with his feminine side because of this. So I’m thrilled.”
“Well, I’ve got a son too. I’ve got a 14-year-old son, and two daughters who are 12 and 8, but it’s not like that’s anything new. I’ve had these kids for a while! [Laughs.] They were there in 2009 as well. I think you have to look at it from both sides. Certainly one of the things you could say generally speaking is because we take periods of time off, every time Fleetwood Mac reconvenes, everybody’s life has evolved in some way, and you put all those pieces together and it’s a different equation. So in 2009 (on the last tour), perhaps, I still had certain concerns. And certainly Stevie was living in a world where she was quite a bit more frustrated creatively than I think she probably is now. So it’s a lot of things. It would be an oversimplification (to say) that ‘Lindsey has softened up because he has daughters.’ Because my daughters have been around for quite a while, and my son has been around for 14 years. Certainly getting married and having children relatively late after all the other garbage was out of the way—especially after seeing a lot of people I knew who really weren’t there for their families, back in previous decades—that’s been the best thing that ever happened to me. This is truly the best time of my life. And so that clearly plays into things. But I think it’s more than that. Both of Stevie’s parents have passed away since the last time we toured. And I think her journey over the last two years of following her bliss has landed her in a different spot in which to see some of the things about me that maybe had always been there but she wasn’t recognizing, you know.”
THE RETURN OF BUCKINGHAM/NICKS (THE ALBUM)
The Buckingham/Nicks LP that Lindsey and Stevie made as a duo in 1973, just prior to joining Fleetwood Mac, has never been issued on any post-vinyl format, amazingly (though every fan who wants one has a bootleg copy). For at least 10 years, Nicks has been saying a CD release is imminent. The chances of it coming to fruition seem greater now, because Nicks says the two of them recorded a “new” track for it while they were recording the two new Mac tunes… though Buckingham is warier about making any promises about that, or other new releases.
“Besides the other two, we also did a Buckingham/Nicks song that was supposed to go on Buckingham/Nicks and we don’t even know why it didn’t. But I found it, so we recorded that, and next year is the 40th anniversary of Buckingham/Nicks, so we’re thinking that maybe some time next year we might throw that record out also, and then strip this song onto it. So there is—as Dave Stewart would say—reason for cautious celebration, that there is going to be some new product. And then we’ll see. Is this (a full-length album) what people want? And if they want it, then that changes everything.”
“Well, that (the Buckingham/Nicks reissue) could happen. We’ll have to wait and see where that goes, too. A lot of these things are going to reveal themselves in the moment that they get revealed and not before. I don’t know. Again, I’m just happy we’re doing this (tour), and I’m looking forward to spending time with people that I love and have a great history with.”