“If you go back to 2003, when we were coming off the making of Say You Will, there was still a bit of tension between Stevie and me,” says Lindsey Buckingham of his Fleetwood Mac foil, singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks. “That polarity worked onstage and made for an interesting show. By 2009 when we toured again that tension had sort of been neutralized. Now it’s swung completely the other way—we’re getting along great.”
Stevie writes lyrics and then puts them away. Later she’ll pull them out and begin trying to attach melodies. It’s a slightly less free-associative thing compared to the way I do it. What makes the whole thing work is that her process and her style don’t necessarily fit with mine. You could make that case about Fleetwood Mac. The members don’t necessarily belong together—but it’s the synergy of these things that makes it work.
Why bring in an outside producer?
I produced Say You Will, and it created a certain tension with Stevie. Her perception of that album was fairly negative, and she wasn’t happy with me when we got to the end of that process. I didn’t want to put myself in that position again. I wanted someone with the ability to mediate the situation.
What’s touring like now?
It’s great. We take these breaks, and everyone’s individual lives wind their way down the road, and when we come back together the equation is slightly different every time. When you’ve been doing this for a while, the perception from the audience shifts a bit. Both those things have changed for the better on this tour. It’s sort of a lovefest onstage now. Plus, in the past three years, the crowd’s appreciation of the body of work seems to have ramped up. And the audiences are skewing younger.
Is a full-length album expected soon?
The way we do things in Fleetwood Mac is always a political minefield. If it’s not Stevie, it’s me—someone is always causing trouble. [laughs] I know Warner Brothers is dying to get an album from us, even though we’re not signed to them anymore. Stevie needs to come to the table with some material. She has one song on the EP, but it’s not a new song. In order to contemplate a new album, Stevie has to want to do it. We’ve talked about it in general terms and decided we would just go out on the road and do this. When this year is done, we’ll have to figure out our 2014.
Does Stevie have reservations?
It’s a little complicated for her. She’s coming off the project with Dave Stewart a couple of years ago. She had a wonderful experience making that album. She watched me take three years off to do Under the Skin and Gift of Screws, and she’s seen how that helped me grow. Plus, she doesn’t just toss songs off the way I do. She hasn’t said this—this is just me—but knowing Stevie, she’s probably thinking, “If I have to write five new songs, do I want to give them to Fleetwood Mac?” And that’s fair enough. I think she’s feeling a bit protective and territorial about the experience she had doing her solo project. And I can totally relate to that. But at some point we have to be a band and we have to make commitments. I think the key with Stevie is not to push her too much. She doesn’t want to feel she’s backed into a corner.