Originally, Fleetwood Mac singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham was going to release his solo album Gift of Screws a few years ago. But when Fleetwood Mac came calling, he ditched the project and many of the songs ended up on the 2003 Mac album, Say You Will. Buckingham has since retooled the songs for the rock-oriented album, which finally got a proper release (after the initial offering was heavily bootlegged) this month. During a phone interview, Buckingham spoke from his Los Angeles home about the album and its various permutations. Oh yeah, he also had a few things to say about why he's stayed on the roller-coaster ride that is Fleetwood Mac.
I know you probably want to talk about your new album and upcoming tour, but why the hell is it so hard to find that Buckingham Nicks album anywhere?
It's an outgrowth of the convoluted politics in Fleetwood Mac and the politics that have existed in the past between Stevie and myself. If you look at any time period when it might have been retooled and put out on a CD, there have been business interests saying it wasn't the right time. That time has never come about. There has also been a level of inertia in terms of Stevie and myself. The masters are sitting in one of her managers' houses somewhere. I'm sure it will come out on CD. And I'm sure if someone wanted to find it, they would not have too hard of a time finding it. Probably on a commercial level, it will emerge in the next couple of years, I'm sure. You also said there might be a tour behind it.
Who said that? It's on your Wikipedia entry. Haven't you ever looked yourself up?
No. I should, but it's probably pretty bad. You can't be accountable for everything you say. Maybe I said that as a hypothetical. That doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility, but we're a ways away from that.
Is it true you originally planned to release this new album of yours several years ago, but the songs ended up becoming the Fleetwood Mac album Say You Will?
Not this album per se but a grouping of songs that was to be called Gift of Screws. The song "Gift of Screws" didn't make the cut on the Fleetwood Mac album because it was too raucous for the fabric of that album. In 2002 or 2003, I was going to put out a solo record, and it's not the first time the band has come in and had something like an intervention. That was cool.
When you're in a band, you think of the whole as much as you can. The material gets out to more people that way, too. So the greater part of the album got folded over into the Fleetwood Mac album Say You Will.
I like the fact that the new disc rocks much harder than Under the Skin. What prompted you to turn up the volume?
Well, nothing in particular. The last one, Under the Skin, was something I had been wanting to do for awhile. There are songs that I do onstage like "Big Love" that are single guitar and voice. I was interested in exploring that kind of approach on a record. That album was as much about what I wasn't doing. It was just one or two guitars and no bass or drums. When I came to begin work on new songs, I didn't think it would be as rocky. It seemed to want to go that way. You have to follow where it takes you.
There aren't any songs about going insane or getting in trouble, so would you say this is your most optimistic album?
It could be. I wouldn't want to admit that to the public. I haven't made comparisons. But if you want to look at the personal life behind it, it was made during a time when I was the happiest I have ever been. I watch a lot of my friends who were married and have children and not be there for them. I didn't want to do that and was lucky enough to find a beautiful woman and have three children. That puts a whole new face on every aspect of your life. It has not panned out that the children are the death to the artist as someone once said. It's been a great thing. You took the term "gift of screws" from an Emily Dickinson poem. What do you like about the phrase?
You know, it's not any one thing. I thought that phrase was very intriguing. You can take it in a sexual way or in the way I think she intended or as a school of hard knocks. I am not a scholar of Emily Dickinson. I had a pocket book of her poems. As you know, we're always looking for stuff we can rip off. I read the words to that line. It took me a few times to get a sense of what that meant. I don't know if I got it right. What I took from it is that there's a rose that grows, but what makes it more worthwhile is that someone has a vision for what to do with the natural gifts and has to pick the rose and the petals and turn the screws of the press to make the oil and the perfume. In order to get something out of it, you have to put some love and effort into it.
You've said "The Right Place to Fade" is about Fleetwood Mac. Yet the band hasn't entirely faded because you're working on a new album with them, right?
It wasn't about that part of the fade, and I don't know if it's particularly about Fleetwood Mac. It certainly resonates with how Fleetwood Mac plays into one's way of looking at the world. Speaking only for me, there's been a long period of time between 1980 and the time I left the band, which wasn't the best time for me. There was residue that I held onto for years. I pared my life down quite narrowly to just music. The music didn't provide the nurturing for me that I needed, and I pulled myself into a monk-like environment. That's what I'm talking about with the fading. I'm saying, "Let's fade that scene down."
Given all the behind-the-scenes history of Fleetwood Mac being common knowledge, is there anything you'd change if you could?
Oh, not really. I'm just glad that none of that happened in the environment we are now in. With the tabloids, we would have been exploited to death. I'm happy we went through that. It's unique and to some degree almost heroic that we were able to get through it, even at the cost of our emotional health at times. There's something to be said for pushing forward with that whole thing.
Do you ever wish you had stuck with water polo?
You know, it's funny, I live in Brentwood, and there's a restaurant across Sunset that I often go to. All the owner has is pictures of himself as a water-polo player. He's Italian and was on the water-polo team. I think, "He must not like the restaurant business much." No, water polo was pretty much a dead end for me.