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HOB Interview: Lindsey Buckingham – Lindsey In Your Living Room

24 Jul

Buckingham1

By Brian M. Howle

Much like the searing memory when JFK was shot, or when Neil & Buzz landed on the moon, those of us – who were a certain age in the mid-to-late ‘70s – remember exactly where they were the first time they heard Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. It wasn’t just a hit album; it permeated the pop culture’s consciousness and burned a deep, long track on the ol’ internal hard drive. My personal file consists of tearing down Hwy. 378 between Sumter and Columbia with a friend in his VW Scirroco at about 105 mph, the tape deck pounding out “Go Your Own Way” as the S.C. Highway Patrol tagged along behind us just for contrary fun.

And now, one of the driving forces behind that band, Lindsey Buckingham, brings his much-anticipated Under The Skin tour to House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach on Tuesday, March 13, 2007.

I had the good fortune to catch up with Lindsey via telephone , and here’s what he had to tell me:

Howle: So, tell me Lindsey, how is the tour shaping up so far?
Buckingham: Well, you know, it’s going great! I’ve been waiting to do this for awhile, and it’s very gratifying … I’m having a ball.

Howle: How long has it been since you’ve done a tour like this, as a solo act?
Buckingham: Well, I’ve only done one tour like this, and that was supporting Out Of The Cradle, and that was, I believe, ‘93 … and it was really short, you know, in like six or eight weeks we were done. I’ve given myself a pretty large window for this one. We’re starting out March 7, and then most of April, and then we’re gonna be out June and July, and I think that’ll be it. (Palpable mischievous overtone begins) …And then we’ll put out another solo album, and we’ll do the whole thing again.

Howle: (Same tone) Well, that’s what we want to keep happening! So, what’s your writing process like? Do you sit down and approach it businesslike, or does it come to you “on the fly”?
Buckingham: Oh, well, you can’t really control that much. I have to say, I haven’t written anything in a while. I had intentions to put a solo album out for a few years, and a couple or so times that got shelved. And then some of that material got to the Fleetwood Mac album, and then it finally got a home and I felt like, unstopped as you might say, and after we came off the road I started writing like crazy again. There’s different ways of writing .. I mean, if you’re in a band, you bring it in and pitch it to everyone and the group finds their parts. If you’re writing alone, it’s sorta like painting, you might say, because you’re playing most of the stuff yourself … and then the writing and recording process tend to mesh together a little more.

Howle: Do you ever get into the studio, when you hear something and then go in that direction; or does someone suggest something to you; or do you pretty much set in your head when you go in there what you’re going to do?
Buckingham: Well, you’ve got to keep an open mind to whatever. I mean, it’s gonna be a process where all the elements bring their influence to bear on what your preconceptions may have been. If you’re working with a band, people are going to play things and it’s going to take on a certain life which has its own thing that you have to be open to. The difference is, that process tends to be more conscious and a little more political, and when you’re working alone, it is like painting … you’re slapping colors on the canvas, and you’re more meditative. You don’t even have to go in with a complete song, you can have a notion for what you think you might want and at some point, the work will lead you in the direction you need to go. When you’re working alone, you tend to go a little more on the experimental side, I guess.

Howle: Okay … this is from one guitarist to another: Where did you get that acoustic/electric guitar that you’ve had for so long – the one you tend to play the most? And how did you learn your finger-picking style?
Buckingham: Ahhh … well, that guitar you’re speaking of was made by Rick Turner from up in Santa Cruz, California. Rick was around in the early days of Fleetwood Mac, and he was making bass guitars for John McVie. Now, I had a problem when I joined Fleetwood Mac, because I had been playing a Fender Telecaster, which was well suited for the style that I had. But Mac had a sound that pre-existed before I joined … a fat sound, with fat drums, and Christine’s keyboards, and everything was pretty much on the “tubby” side. But the Telecaster just didn’t fit into that, and I ended up playing a Gibson Les Paul for a while, and I wasn’t too happy with that because it’s not the best guitar for someone who has a more orchestral-finger-picking style like me. So I asked Rick, ‘Can you build me a guitar that has the properties of cleanliness that a Telecaster has, but with a fatter sound – you know, lean and percussive?’ And that’s what he came up with, and that’s the guitar that I’ve used onstage ever since .. it’s served me very well.

Howle: Yeah, and it’s such a beautiful sounding instrument, and it suits your playing style so well ..

Buckingham: Yeah, it’s one of those ‘happy accidents’ that just happened. As far as my style of playing, there’s really nothing too unique about it. When I started playing, I never had lessons … I learned out of a chord book and by listening to my Warner Brothers rock ‘n’ roll records. When the first wave of rock hit back in the day, I was playing folk music, and a lot of people were using the basic Merle Travis 3-finger picking style. It started with that, and then I listened to some classical guitar, and added the third finger and just sorta took it from there. I can’t analyze it, I can’t be too objective about it …

Howle: It’s just so natural for you?
Buckingham: Yeah, that’s pretty much it!

Howle: Is there anyone out there you’d like to work with at some point?
Buckingham: Hmmm … well, there’s always someone out there, but; no, not any one person, I don’t think.

Howle: OK … what’s the material like on this new album?
Buckingham: Basically, even though it’s been ten years since I’ve put out a solo album, I’ve gotten married and had children for the first time, so you get a different perspective not only on the present, but on the past 25 years, so it’s answered some questions for me. So I was interested in doing something kind of intimate. There are certain songs that I have been doing six or seven years that started off as ensemble pieces on record, that have made their way on stage as single guitar and voice. The impact with audiences was so obvious to me, I thought, what would it be like with someone sitting in your living room. There’s no drums, no real bass; there’s a very intimate feel to it.

Howle: And what else is in your future? Is Fleetwood Mac a done deal, or what’s going on with that?
Buckingham: (That tone again) Well, Fleetwood Mac is never a done deal! (Both laugh) That would be nice, at some point. My plan right now is to tour to support Under The Skin, and then I’ll go finish up the second solo album, and have that out 1st quarter of 2008, and then do this all over again. I’m giving myself a large window of time to do this – two albums in a row – and then when we’re done with all of that, I think that Fleetwood Mac will be hitting the road once again.

Howle: Well, whatever incarnation you choose, I think your fans will be out there for you, looking forward to seeing you no matter what. So get on out there and just have a good time, and thank you so much for your time … Everyone in Myrtle Beach is looking forward to seeing you.
Buckingham: Oh, it’s been my pleasure, Brian … we’re looking forward to it, too.
This article was originally published in the February 28 – March 15, 2007 issue of Alternatives NewsMagazine in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Aftershow: The Review
Lindsey Buckingham wails
Lindsey Buckingham wails on a lead of “Go Your Own Way” at House Of Blues. (Photo by Brian M. Howle)

By Brian M. Howle

Rating: ¶¶¶¶¶ 5 Lighters Up
There were probably some folks who thought about attending the Lindsey Buckingham concert at the North Myrtle Beach House Of Blues on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, and then somehow talked themselves out of it for a littany of foolish reasons.

If you did, now’s the time to kick yourself in the butt – repeatedly.

Out on tour to support his latest solo release, Under the Skin, Buckingham showed up loaded for bear. And as a result, the large crowd in attendance was treated to one of the greatest shows to ever grace the HOB music hall’s storied stage.

Lindsey opened up the show by himself with several great tunes, “Not Too Late,” the impish “Trouble” and “Never Going Back.” His formidable band – Neale Heywood (guitars/vocals), Brett Puggle (guitars/ keyboards/vocals) and Walfredo Reyes, Jr. (percussion/vocals) – backed him up with a constantly changing array of guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion and sequenced rhythm tracks that created luscious, thick walls of sonic nirvana.

To appease those who may only know of the man through Fleetwood Mac, “Second Hand News” drew thunderous applause. Attired in leather jacket, black T and jeans, Buckingham has a smattering of gray in his hair, but the talent and ebullient, infectious enthusiasm endures, making him the consumate performer. Following with “Castaway Dreams,” the cynical “Red Rover,” “It Was You,” and “Big Love,” with sound reverberating thru the venue, as strong, deep vocals were immersed in chorused effect to compliment Lindsey’s rich, aural stylings.

The popular “Go Insane” was next, followed by the new CD’s title track, “Under the Skin,” as three acoustics rained down an etheral jaunt into self-discovery. Austere but with a full-stage setup, “World Turning” featured a hand-triggered percussion solo, with sequenced vocals. “So Afraid” slowed down the pace and featured killer dual guitar leads.

“Know I’m Not Wrong” was next, and if you thought four guys couldn’t reproduce the huge marching band sound of “Tusk,” well, think again. This was like spending a couple of hours in a studio that serves refreshing beverages to a couple of thousand friends, offering up only the very best
takes. The crowd finally exploded with glee as the opening riffs of “Go Your Own Way” echoed through the hall. The encores were the delightful “Holiday Road” (from the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation), “Turn It On,” “Show You How” and “Shut It Down.”

Many thanks to Lindsey and the guys for a great show, and special thanks to Nikki Herceg of Warner Brothers Records Publicity for her much-appreciated assistance.

Live Performace Rating Legend:
¶¶¶¶¶ 5 Lighters Up – Dude, Ya had to be there; Killer set
¶¶¶¶ 4 Lighters Up – Great show, you don’t leave feeling there was more they could have done
¶¶¶ 3 Lighters Up – Not necessarily bad; not necessarily good; had its moments and I didn’t feel ripped off
¶¶ 2 Lighters Up – Someone’s got an addiction problem or needs way more practice, but hey, the beer was cold
¶ 1 Lighter Up – I laughed; I cried; I want my money back, bitch

###
This article was originally published in the March 29 – April 12, 2007 issue of Alternatives NewsMagazine in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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