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By Andy Argyrakis
The latest solo sidesteps of Fleetwood Mac's co-front man
"On the Phone"
Sept. 25, 2008
The solo outpouring of Lindsey Buckingham follows a similar timeline as that of his full time foray in Fleetwood Mac- unpredictable and unexpected, but always highly anticipated. The singer/songwriter/guitarist behind several of the group's greatest hits ("Go Your Own Way," "Tusk," "Big Love") has often recorded individual albums between group projects, though he was noticeably conspicuous by an absence between 1992's Out of the Cradle and 2006's Under the Skin. The thought of waiting fourteen years for his next solo endeavor could certainly seem interminable for faithful followers, though Buckingham's already back after a mere two years with the brand new Gift of Screws (Reprise) after a experiencing a creative surge.
"Certainly after Out of the Cradle there were a number of times where there was an intention to put out a solo work and one of those was in '97," says Buckingham during a teleconference call from his California home. "Then (Fleetwood Mac) came in and said, 'well, we want to do a live show and tour around a live CD,' which was The Dance. So that stuff got shelved in '97, and the touring and everything that followed took us into close to 2000. Then I picked it up again and I worked on it in my slow methodical way. [By 2002] there was a another call from the band saying, 'we want to do a Fleetwood Mac studio album' and the body of my material got folded over into [the band's] album Say You Will. Cut to a little while later, I said to the band, 'look, I want to take about a three year period and I don't want anyone knocking on my door. My intention is to try to get two albums out in a relatively short period of time for me and to tour behind both of those albums. When I'm done we can talk about Fleetwood Mac again.'"
And that's exactly what the multi-faceted performer's done, mining material for Gift of Screws from those aborted sessions since Fleetwood Mac's return and also writing new material inspired by his extensive time on tour. In fact, that pace will continue with Buckingham embarking on a fall club tour (hitting House of Blues Chicago), an extremely intimate environment considering Fleetwood Mac's last trips through town were at Rosemont's Allstate Arena and Champaign's Assembly Hall. Though he's looking forward to the prospect, narrowing down a set list spanning five solo albums and three decades in Fleetwood Mac has been an increasingly tricky task.
"Obviously there are certain things you need to do because people expect that, but I think the problem we've having right now is we've got a lot of rock-and-roll material that we're having fun doing," he verifies. "We haven't quite found the formula yet for how to present that level of energy and to still have it sort of breathe and rest and build...We are trying to include some stuff that we've never done that's from past solo albums and we're just trying to shake it up as much as we can."
Buckingham is also excited about returning to town after last visiting with guest group mate Steve Nicks during a taping of WTTW's "Soundstage" television revival (which has since been released as a DVD). As cohesive as the 2005 collection looks in final format, the troubadour admits to being a bit rushed tying up a lot of loose musical ends before the filming after being in the middle of Fleetwood Mac's most recent tour.
"It was a last minute thing and I had not really put together any kind of a format for presenting a body of solo work or a body of solo and Fleetwood Mac work in a solo context," he recalls. "We had maybe four days of rehearsal to pull all of that together. Some of those things had already been worked out and were being done in the Fleetwood Mac show, but many of them were not. We had actually a lot of jamming to do in four days to pull that show together and my fondest memory is that somehow we pulled it off."
Given Buckingham's veteran status, he can literally pull the strings of any artistic situation together and make ends meet, though more than his musical abilities, the entertainer credits a supportive family for leveling the playing field. Long gone are his party hearty days of dating Nicks or storming out of the room in a contentious fury (as the group was famously known for throughout the 1970s and 80s), which have since been replaced with an easy going demeanor and peaceful frame of mind.
"I feel like I'm pretty much in the best creative point that I've ever been right now," he confirms. "That's a nice place to be with all this other stuff going on. A more direct thing about newer songs is that some family members have actually been participants in that. My son Will was walking around the studio going, 'great day, great day.' I said, 'what is that?' He said, 'I don't know. I just made it up.' That became the chorus for the opening track on the new album. My wife [Kristen] also wrote some lyrics on one of the songs and got involved in some of the structure of another one. It all starts to intertwine in a very positive way. It's great. I feel very lucky."
Lindsey Buckingham performs at House of Blues Chicago on Thursday, October 2. For additional information, call 312-559-1212 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.