Rock Village, January 29, 1998

By Gary Graff

Nobody proclaimed hell would have to freeze over before the members of the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac got back together. It's been a decade since this particular fivesome -- singer Stevie Nicks, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, keyboardist Christine McVie, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie -- recorded together, and a decade-and-a-half since they last toured. But, thanks to a bit of maturity, some squelched drug habits and a few lukewarm solo careers, the Mac is back. And so is the audience that has scooped up some 26 million copies of Rumours since its 1977 release. Fleetwood Mac's recent live album, The Dance, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart and the ensuing tour sold-out arenas across North America. But the success continued into 1998. Mac was recently inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, and The Dance is up for a Grammy. In this chat with RockVillage, Buckingham and Christine McVie show they don't stop thinking about tomorrow.


RockVillage: Are you surprised at how successful this project has been?

Lindsey Buckingham: The album coming in at No. 1, that was really strange, I don't know what that means. It's just nice to know there's so much of a pull for us to be up there together.

Christine McVie: I'm not now, no. But I was. Now I'm just happily sort of grooving along with it. It's been terrific fun. I was shocked we did get together in the first place. I didn't believe it would happen.

RV: Why not?

McVie: The separation had been so long, the distance between us -- it seemed to have gotten farther and farther apart from each other. And then when we actually got in a room with one another, it was as though -- when you meet up with an old pal you haven't seen for a long time, you sit down and have a drink with them. It was as if no time had passed at all.

RV: How did the reunion actually happen?

McVie: Lindsey ... was making a solo album and had cut several tracks with other people, other musicians and on his own, with drum machines. He had basically come to the end of it, realizing he wasn't happy with what he'd got. So he basically scrubbed it and called Mick up and said "Do you want to cut some tracks with me?" Christine McVie: So those guys went into the studio and cut 15 or so basic tracks together, and from there the obvious progression from that was "Who's going to play bass?" And so they got John in. And farther down the line, I got a phone call from Mick or Lindsey, and I went down there and put down four or five songs, piano or vocals. It was at that point we realized we were breathing the same oxygen again and basically enjoying each other's company. And the old sense of humor was back and Lindsey had worked with Stevie on the soundtrack for the Twister movie. So it seemed everyone was in the same circles again and really having fun.

RV: Lindsey, what happened that caused you to leave the band in 1987?

Buckingham: Well, I think in '87, you had a working atmosphere that could not really be called "creative." Everyone was so zonked out, for one thing, and there was very little unity. The Tango in the Night album was a very -- how would you say it -- a producerly album. I had to make up for the lack of what should have been happening more naturally as a band and wasn't. We saw Stevie for maybe three weeks out of the year we worked on the album. So it was really a challenge getting anything to happen.

RV: Was it odd being back together at first?

McVie: There was a little bit of apprehension. There were some people keener than others -- not mentioning any names, but his initials are M.F. I was a bit daunted to begin with. I didn't know it could work. But everyone's attitude has been so mature. We've all grown up, basically. We've realized the bond between us is a lot stronger than we realized. There's literally -- I know it sounds schmarmy-warmy -- there's a lot of really genuine affection floating around for each other, and it's great. This is not fake, you know. I see Lindsey and John huddled in a corner sort of hugging each other and having a chat and talking with each other. That's something they never would have done 20 years ago.

RV: During the past 10 years, Mick and John have kept Fleetwood Mac going, at one point without either Stevie or Christine in the band. How did you feel about that?

Buckingham: If you look at the progression of what happened with Fleetwood Mac afterwards, when they got Billy [Burnette] and Rick Vito, you still had Stevie in there and you still had Christine. Even though it was more generic, maybe, it was still a respectable presentation of Fleetwood Mac. And then when you get into no Christine and no Stevie and all these other people, it's very shaky. In Mick's defense, one of the ways he rationalized it is if you look at Fleetwood Mac's history, especially in the time after Peter Green and before Stevie and [myself], there are so many incarnations.

McVie: It was something I was confused with, what Mick was doing, anyway. I said, "Mick, put this baby to rest, darling. Give it a decent burial and call it a day. You can't keep mending the old vase so many times. You're going to have to chuck it away in the end." And Mick didn't want to give up. That's what he does. He's the life blood of Fleetwood Mac.

RV: You did get back together in 1993 to play "Don't Stop" at President Clinton's first inauguration. What was that like?

Buckingham: It was show-bizzy. The whole thing was pretty Washington. It was waiting around in the back and then going out for five minutes. It was a fun five minutes, but I wasn't like hugely into doing it. Stevie's always saying how it was such a wonderful thing to do. The only thing that seemed to me possible at the time was he was kind of the first president who, during his campaign, had sort of aligned himself with rock 'n' roll. There was sort of an implication his thinking would be a little fresher than it ended up being.

RV: Why do you think Rumours has held up so well?

Buckingham: I would cite Tusk as being, for me, a more interesting album, and yet, there's something more basic about Rumours ... We were able to take recognizable forms of rock and blues and sort of make them sunny on the surface, make them crisp and sunny and bright. And yet, below the surface, the whole underpinning was dark. And I think that is what makes the album hold up.

RV: By the same token, what is it about this particular lineup of Fleetwood Mac that works so well?

McVie: We have a lot of chemistry with each other -- love or hate, it doesn't matter. At the moment there's a lot of love floating around.

Buckingham: There's a natural sense of theater to it. It runs the gamut in terms of the spectrum. If you break it down from where Christine is to where Stevie is to where I am, you cover so much ground just stylistically. Visually, it's a real sexy thing still, up there.

RV: So the million dollar question: Will you stay together after this tour?

McVie: You can only speculate, really. We're taking it one step at a time. We don't really know ourselves yet. We're not taking any note of the managers or record companies or anything. We're concentrating on the five of us at the moment and seeing how we enjoy ourselves. We're doing this for each other and obviously doing it for a lot of fans. It's a coming together and a celebration. We can at least, at the end of this tour, kind of hug each other and put some positive closure to the last 20 years of what has been seeming hell and also the most uproariously wonderful times, too. But this way it's going to be a positive closure. And who knows? It may not be a closure.

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