Remember Art Rock?  That enfant terrible of Pop Rock, that shoulderless anathema of the New Wave which hath wrought the Cars, et. al.?

If you can possibly recall some of the BETTER Art Rock groups --- Talking Heads, Television, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson --- Art Rock is/was pretty cool.  Not so great on your breakfast cereal (read:  surreal), but as a compelling change from CHR -- why not:  for Rock's sake.

Only, Lindsey Buckingham's got a REAL new bag, a schweppervescent twist on the ol' format:  High Tech Folk.  Some may say it's insane, sure, but after hearing Lindsey's two excellent solo ventures on vinyl, the pure 'n' visceral pop roots of his music decry one's usual connotations of "folk."  (Lindsey's fave folkies are the Kingston Trio, not necessarily bleeding-heart '70s-style wimpoid folk.)

"For every little bit of high technology that's imposed in people's lives, they're gonna need the human contact to balance it out.....And I think that's something we did well on this record, in the sense that the outside edges of it may appear to be high tech, but, if you get beyond that, to the inner parts of it, the subject matter and the structure of the songs, the harmonies, it's all very high-touch and, in a sense, folksy in that way.  THAT'S what I mean by high-tech folk."

Co-produced by Gordon Fordyce, and executive-produced by Roy Thomas Baker, Lindsey Buckingham's  new Elektra release, Go Insane, starts out more or less "accessible," then pirouettes off somewhere into the lunatic rick-racks of sound and subject matter.  (It's also kinda early Pink Floyd-ish, with Fleetwood Mac and the Beach Boys as honorable mentions --- i.e., really good melodic stuff.  Pretty.)

"I taught myself how to play (guitar) by listening to records, sure ---" Elvis Presley, the Everlys, Buddy Holly" --- but I already had quite a lot of style by the time I was 10."  Fans will remember Lindsey Buckingham as the young, aggressive new blood in the figurative jugular of Fleetwood Mac.  When he and Stevie Nicks joined the Mac in '74, so followed the giganda successes of Rumours, Tusk, altogether five internationally huge LPs.

Lindsey and Stevie --- whose Buckingham Nicks LP bombed in '73, alas --- joined Fleetwood Mac "'cause we were broke, and we were starving, and we needed money, basically."  He attributes the lack of success of their Polydor LP to a strong feeling "the record company was in a strange frame of mind during that time."  One exec told them they might try emulating Jim Stafford's "Spiders And Snakes" single.  Ugh.  "They had no idea what we were doing," LB shook his head.

Lindsey met Stevie while concurrently working in the only band outside the Mac that they'd ever belonged to, called in full the Fritz Raybein Memorial Band (a goof name), letter "Fritz" for brevity's sake.  ("Fritz, where are you now?" Lindsey asks, gazing heavenward...)

"We were in this band in the Bay Area for a number of years in the late '60s before we got romantically involved and moved to L.A.  We knew each other musically before we knew each other in the biblical sense."  While in Fritz, Lindsey's out-of-synch guitar playing abilities gave him the freedom to learn other aspects of music while being true to his own style:  "Being a semi acid-rock sort of band, I could play Chet Atkins and Scotty Moore, but I couldn't do fuzztone guitar solos.  So, I played for about four years.

"Working with Fleetwood Mac, and especially what I in a sense like a director of a movie, 'cause I take the Stevie songs, and the Christine songs, and arrange them into records.  That's the main thing I've always done with Fleetwood Mac, and that transcends everything else --- my guitar playing or singing or songwriting --- that's my main contribution."

Although an early starter on guitar (age six, he says), Lindsey put in considerable time getting a feel for production.  "I really didn't start writing until I was about 21, 22 (with two-track sound-on machines, once reading about Les Paul's early production techniques).  Before that, I was just doing other people's stuff, and getting my chops down for a couple of years, then I started writing my own stuff.  That was all good groundwork for production, so now I've got a 24-track in my garage, and all sorts of adult toys...

"I'm very enamoured of the process of creating.  I think it's very important to feel.....A lot of the reason to create is just to experience the process of creating --- and how things work.  So, writing with a group is the same thing as making a movie --- in verbalizing everything, and the choices you make are all very conscious choices, not subconscious.  And it's very political."

Law And Order, Lindsey's first solo LP, was "wedged in between two Fleetwood Mac albums."  In his mind, "It's a cruder album" than Go Insane, which, on the other hand, tends to be a bit "dense."

Go Insane has more to do with dealing with all the greys that there are to deal with in situations you find yourself in where your reality is sort of severely tested.  A lot of the subject matter on this album just deals with having broken up with somebody and having someone who exhibits behavior that is hard to deal with daily.  Not that things should be black and white, but if all the blacks and whites are gone, and everything is grey --- you know, where does love stop and start.....gets hard to function, sometimes, in this world."

All right, Lindsey, I cruelly chortled, what's all this about "politics," and how would YOU define "insanity?"  "I think insanity is fairly relative as a term, fairly political as a term.....Acceptable behavior within the world of a rock band may be enough to get yourself committed if you worked in a bank," he explained, while I wondered to myself, 'How DOES he do ti?  Keeps on answering coherently, politely.....'

"If the majority thinks something is wrong, then that's what's wrong.  That's politics, right?  I mean, how can you use that collective perception to manipulate a situation?  I mean, people who are being put away are doing so because they're being a somebody else."

Getting off the subject, I asked him his favorite color, and what he looked for in a girl.  He then volunteered (!) his fave food ("anything but sushi") and drink ("martini").  In girls, LB looks for "inner beauty --- soul," and he supposes that his fave color is white --- "but that's not really a color."

For the most part, Lindsey thought a lot of my questions "unbelievable."  Oh, gee, thanks, dude!  You see, he wanted to rap SERIOUS about the creative process and Art, and I wanted to keep it LIGHT.  This tug-of-war, and his sense of humor, made his first (?) CREEM interview an unforgettable pleasure, I'm sure.

"When you work on your own, the way I do especially, when you're playing everything yourself, it's like you've got this blank canvas --- it's like a painting.  It's a far more intimate relationship you develop with your work, and it's a far more subconscious and intuitive process, not political at all."

For Go Insane, Lindsey played all the instruments, sang all the parts.  I thought I'd heard Stevie and Christine on the record, but no --- just good ol' Lindsey and a V.S.O. singing up a storm, even though he insists "I hate singing.  I do it a lot because I have to.  A lot of the reason's lyrics, too --- they're my weak point, although I'm getting better."

As for touring at the moment, "I think most of the stuff on this album would be great live, and a few things off of Law And Order would be good, would fit into that, but I don't want to go out there and do half a set of Fleetwood Mac material."  All in all, "I'm just living my life, just trying to make music and do something that adheres to a certain level of integrity."

Impertinent as per usual, I asked, since he spoke so much in terms of cinema, if he might someday be interested in the movie biz himself --- soundtracks, directing, acting, whatever.  His offended-sounding retort:  "What, me?  No, I'd rather stick with something I'm good at.  Why spread yourself too thin?  Just do what you know, to some degree.  That's my philosophy."

The future --- the immediate future --- holds another solo album for Lindsey as soon as he can get back into the studio, then probably studio work in the producer's seat for other artists, in an undoubtedly folksy and art-pop vein.

Most importantly in this visual age, I wanted to know how Lindsey perceived his image.  "Not any one particular thing, other than slightly eccentric, and maybe, slightly left field."  All right, so how did you get your hair to stand up that way?

"Just hairspray.  It's 'Eraserhead," whatever.  I mean, you wouldn't want me to just have a regular Beverly Hills hairstyle --- that would be BORING. People probably go, 'Oh, he's a nice-looking guy --- why does he have his hair go like that?'  What the hell.  But at least they notice it."

With that literal shock of wavy-haired topography upside his head, and the wide-open, steely-grey, smoldering eyes, I doubt very much that the heads wouldn't turn as Lindsey walked by.  Even if the man-in-the-street didn't recognize Mr. Buckingham, they'd most likely shake their heads and go, "Whew!  Crazy man, crazy!"<

Thanks to Kayde for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for sending it to us.