Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1984

Buckingham: Playing the Psycho

by Steve Pond

"I think it's okay to go insane," says Lindsey Buckingham with a slow grin. "I was watching 'Psycho' the other night, and when Tony Perkins said, 'we all go a little mad sometimes,' I thought, 'Yep, we all do.'"

Buckingham sits back in his chair and lets out a short, mildly sinister laugh. With his curly hair long on top and cut short on the sides, and his intense, wide-eyed glare, one of Los Angeles' most successful musicians looks like a genuine pop eccentric, if not quite a rock'n'roll Norman Bates.

That's precisely what Lindsey Buckingham has been since at least 1979, when he took control of Fleetwood Mac, one of pop music's biggest, slickest hit-making machines, and steering it into the experimental areas of the sprawling two-record set, "Tusk."

Since then Buckingham has further explored off-beat musical territory on his solo records, 1982's "Law and Order," and the current "Go Insane."

"I've heard a lot of people say that my stuff is really self-indulgent," he says with a shrug. "Maybe it is, I don't know. I just try to look for new things and hope the consequences aren't too horrendous."

Clad in jeans, black shirt and boots, Buckingham chomps down another potato chip in his manager's Sunset Strip office.

The life he lives in his hillside Los Angeles home is, he says, a private one. It's his music that has turned Buckingham into one of the city's reigning renegades, a pop adventurer who spikes his folk-derived, harmony-laden pop tunes with odd twists, sound effects and a layered, anything goes recording approach.

His first solo outing, "Law and Order," contained the hit "Trouble" and sold about 300,000 copies - a respectable total, unless you're judging by Fleetwood Mac standards.

But Buckingham isn't too concerned with sales figures. "My favorite performers are people like Laurie Anderson," he says. "I don't know what she sells, but it's not much. But she's wonderful. She's on a different level from the Fleetwood Mac ethic of performing."

Buckingham calls the new "Go Insane" a "sort of high-tech folk album." The record was also a catharsis: It's frayed-nerves feel reflects the breakup of a six-year romantic relationship. "A lot of the album deals with things that are very personal, with breaking up and with going insane with somebody else," he says with a nervous laugh. "Secondhand insanity is real strange."

Although Buckingham first picked up a guitar when Elvis Presley hit the radio in his Northern California hometown of Atherton, it was the Kingston Trio and folk music that sustained him in the years when rock's initial force began to fade.

Buckingham played bass in a Bay Area band called Fritz. Stevie Nicks was also in the band, and the two went on to form a duo called Buckingham Nicks. Mick Fleetwood heard their lone album, and hired them when Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac.

The new team clicked immediately, and Buckingham's jumpy rock songs were clear standouts. Some, such as "Go Your Own Way," were also big hits for Fleetwood Mac.

After that single, Buckingham became inspired by the energy of the exploding new wave movement. "It was great to see people break through the '70s feeling," he says, "so I got all hot to do something that wasn't just another pop album." Often working at home by himself, he made half of "Tusk," then helped Nicks and Christine McVie work out their contributions.

"When it was being made, everyone in the band seemed really behind it," he recalls. "That opinion stayed until it was apparent that it was not going to sell 16 million albums. And then everyone in the group sort of turned around and looked at me and said, 'Well, you really blew it.'"

Although it appears he'd like to devote all his energy to his solo career, Buckingham stops himself short as soon as he starts talking about his plans for his next record.

"I'm speaking so hypothetically here," he cautions. "I'm almost speaking as if there were not Fleetwood Mac, working on the premise that things are simpler than they really are . . . There will be a lot of pressure in the next few months to do another Fleetwood Mac album, and I would like to do another if we can make another major statement."

He pauses, "We're going to have a meeting this month, and I'm very curious to see what the group's overall sensibility is at this point. I think back to all the times when I tried to play Mick the Clash or something, and he just didn't want to hear it. I don't know why, but they didn't want to hear anybody new and interesting. Maybe it was threatening to them."

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