When Fleetwood Mac released Rumours 40 years ago, the monstrous success of that album, which spent 31 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and went on to sell more than 45 million copies, changed the lives of all five band members — Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood. But amid all the behind-the-scenes drama (namely the failing romances between Buckingham/Nicks and the two McVies, which Buckingham now refers to as “the musical soap opera”), the group didn’t get to fully enjoy the moment.
“I think a lot of those years back then [with] the success, it was kind of a mixed bag because personal lives were often in turmoil and it was a bit difficult to appreciate,” Buckingham tells Yahoo Music now. “Everyone appreciated aspects of it, the escapism of it, but I don’t think everyone appreciated how profound it is.”
That was then, and whatever issues the group had have largely passed. Lindsey and Christine, who release their duo album Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie June 9, say there will always be a bit of turbulence within the Mac — that’s where the chemistry comes from, after all — but by and large, all five bandmates are in good spirits personally and professionally these days.
“This is an oddly vibrant and great time for Fleetwood Mac and us,” Buckingham says. “I think maybe it took the equation of time in order to actually be able to realize we did our job right. So you go to a Fleetwood Mac show now and there are three generations of people there, for all of whom our body of works makes sense.”
It’s that personal comfort and the massive insulation that comes from playing in one of the biggest bands of all time — Fleetwood Mac will co-headline, alongside Eagles, the Classic East and West festivals in Los Angeles and New York next month — that Buckingham credits, in part, with allowing him and Christine McVie to release their first joint LP.
“What we’re doing now, in many ways, we’re able to do because we are so relaxed in that other thing. I think we know ourselves as people, we know each other very well, and it’s just a good time for everyone. And I think that’s part of why we’re able to do what we’re doing and be having so much appreciation and fun,” he says.
That comes across in the warmth and beauty of songs like Buckingham’s “In My World,” the album’s lead single, or McVie’s gorgeous “Game of Pretend,” a modern-day “Songbird” of sorts.
As much as the pair are excited to reunite with Fleetwood Mac Classic East and West, their focus when Yahoo Music meets with them at a Sony Pictures soundstage is their first concert tour as a twosome. We are given a sneak peak of two songs following our conversation, and we can tell you that backed by a full band, the Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie songs take on a fullness and depth that elevate them from wonderful pop ditties to powerful and compelling anthems.
“We’re going to probably end up doing eight out of 10 [Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie album] songs in the show. The way we’ve got it broken down, we’ve got six in the set proper and maybe two as encores,” Buckingham says. “Obviously they’d run you out on a rail if you didn’t do a certain requisite amount of familiar [tunes]; we’re doing that as well. But we just want to make it feel like a really fresh show, so yeah, it’s been a pleasure putting these together.”
For McVie — who confesses that she is both excited and daunted by the prospect of playing for only the second time with a rhythm section other than her former husband and Mick Fleetwood — the number of options she and Buckingham have now is almost overwhelming in a good way.
“We have so much choice,” she gushes. “We’ve got a whole wealth of stuff that we’ve written over the years: lesser-known album tracks, off solo albums. It’s going to be a scramble because there’s so much choice.”
But there is an exhilaration for her in the freshness of this format and returning to smaller venues. “I am enjoying it; it’s a completely different animal,” she says.
It is in a sense like being a new artist for both of them. Both musicians are savvy enough to know that when fans come to see an official Fleetwood Mac concert, they are hoping for a greatest-hits night, with maybe a few rarities thrown in. So to have this new format, in which they can challenge themselves as artists, is a gift.
“The big machine, at some point, becomes something a little more static where people don’t want you to do anything other than this body of work. And that’s something you can be comfortable with if you’re happy with your body of work,” Buckingham says. “But [with Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie] you get to this smaller-scale thing, where you can continue to grow and reinvent yourself.”