Geeking Out with Lindsey Buckingham (by Alex Bleeker)
Last month Fleetwood Mac announced a series of arena dates beginning in April. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees will kick off their first tour in three years with a show in Columbus, OH on April 4 before making their way through the United States and Canada, including stops at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The tour coincides with the 35th anniversary of the release of Fleetwood Mac’s classic album Rumours . When the group’s Lindsey Buckingham began doing press in conjunction with these dates, we enlisted Alex Bleeker (Real Estate, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks) to interview Buckingham.
In the winter of 2007 I came home from college wielding a freshly burned copy of _Rumours _; I was obsessed. Of course I had heard most of the music before, almost every song had been a radio hit. For some reason, however, even the familiar tunes sounded new to me. Fleetwood Mac was suddenly re-contextualized. The production was flawless, the hooks – irresistible, and the lyrics were haunting and universal.
At an obligatory meeting of old High School friends and future band mates in my Mom’s basement, we passed the bong and listened to Fleetwood Mac. My musical selection garnered sceptical reactions at best. “I don’t know dude, some of this stuff is pretty cheesy,” somebody quipped. You see, Fleetwood Mac had never been too popular with the “alternative” crowd. In spite of their overwhelming commercial success the Mac have never been “cool” ….until now.
In the late 70s Fleetwood Mac was a symbol of rock excess; the tyranny against which early punk and new wave fans struggled to rebel. But it’s 2012 now, and the music has broken free from the shackles of social stigma. Fleetwood Mac’s sweet melodic power and influence can not be denied. On the road with Real Estate, I’ve travelled all over the world, and met countless artists and musicians. I can safely say that a Fleetwood Mac influence is a universal given… it’s like saying that you like the Beatles.
Perhaps even more staggering is the re-emergence of Lindsey Buckingham as a solo artist. Buckingham’s own music, while still catchy, has never been afraid to take experimental risks. His body of work is the ever elusive blend of accessible and challenging. In this era of stale rock reunions, Buckingham continues to make work like this. The 21st century has revealed him to be a true legacy artist to be admired.
Speaking with Lindsey was a rare treat. He was well grounded and casual, but carried the confidence of someone who knows that the world has finally caught up with his true brilliance.
Alex Bleeker: This is very surreal for me; I’m a huge fan of yours.
Lindsay Buckingham: [laughs] Well, you know, I’m just a hard working guy. [It’s] not going to get too surreal, [but] I appreciate that.
AB: Well let’s start by talking about your new album_One Man Show_. So I see that it was recorded on one night, at one show, very simply, very raw. Did you record the entire tour with the intention of releasing this record or is this sort of off the cuff—you loved the show and thought you wanted to put it out there?
LB: No. We were two thirds of the way through the tour and I guess it started off because [there are] these guys who come out and they record shows on a nightly basis and somehow get CDs burned in time to put them out there as merchandise [by the end of the show].
AB: Kind of like bootlegs?
LB: [They] sell them just raw, off the console, and make [them in] a night. And I thought, “Well ok, that sounds ok,” but it sounded a little…I don’t know. Like it was missing maybe one control rod.
It sort of sparked the idea of that spirit, which is just to take stuff raw off the board and see if you have anything. But [you have] to look at it afterwards and have some level of appraising it; you know, making sure it’s something you’d want to put out there rather than just have some guys doing. And so we basically did the same thing—that was where the idea came from—we had my guy who was mixing [start] burn[ing] CDs every night, but we also put up a couple of mics in the halls, just to grab the audience…so it didn’t sound too hermetically sealed or too direct, so you could get some combination of what was coming off the PA and what was coming off the console.
That’s all we did. I ended up coming off the road, and I did one last leg, but this was all done during the time I took a break. I sat down, I went down to a studio and started putting on CDs and just started listening to them and [realized that] there really was nothing to be done. I shortened up spaces between breaks but you know beyond that there wasn’t really anything to do because there was nothing to mix, really nothing to do but get the timing between the songs right. That particular night [that we used for One Man Show ] just seemed to have a flow to it. I took it to the guy I use for mastering and gave it to him and said, “When you’re done, send it over to the appropriate party.” And that was it; it was so low-key.
AB: That’s cool, because I’m not sure what kind of a background you have regarding Relix, but it’s deeply rooted in Grateful Dead culture which has this history of live concert recordings. So I think it’s a perfect fit to be talking about this [considering] that audience.
LB: Well that’s great. To some degree I think if this had been me taking my band out with a way more moving part, it would have been a harder thing to contemplate doing to my satisfaction. However, because there was so little going on and the times where there were, [I got] little pieces of help. [For example,] I took a loop pedal but used it not as a loop, [but] just as a couple things that went start to finish as pre-records. I had some sort of arc in the set, but it’s so simple and so hard to screw up in terms of the audio of it. I think that’s what made it possible to do in such a raw form.
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