Guitar World Acoustic: In an interview that you appeared in this magazine in 1997, you said that one day, while sitting in your studio, you had a turning point in which you were able to come to grips with a lot of the emotional baggage and resentment that Fleetwood Mac had built up in you. That you were able to forgive, and to accept that "everyone did the best they could."
Lindsey Buckingham: That was certainly the beginning. When I left in 1987, it was just so crazy. Trying to get Tango In The Night made was very difficult, and the road is usually even crazier than the studio. I just felt that I needed to get my bearing back, artistically and personally. A few years later, I released Out Of The Cradle and did a tour behind it. Once I did something musically for myself, and got my sensibilities more intact by getting off that big machine for a while, it was easier to look at all of what had gone on without judging anyone-and that means without judging Stevie, or myself, certainly, or anyone, particularly in terms of all those things that had made Fleetwood Mac so interesting to the public-the soap opera aspects. That made it a very fertile time for me.
GWA: Although, I understand, a certain portion of this new album was already done by then.
Buckingham: Well, the songs of mine that are on Say You Will started out as a solo album, and for all intents and purposes most of the work on those had been completed before we did The Dance tour. When I finally got around to putting it all together, there was so much turmoil at Warner Bros., with the changing of the guard, that it just didn't seem like a good time to put out a Lindsey Buckingham solo album. And in the meantime we reconnected with Stevie and got this larger idea going. So this music has been the soundtrack of my life for the last five or six years, a time in which many other things in my personal life have changed, too. I got married, I had two kids, and I'm building a house. So it's great to be done with this.
Buckingham: So I understood her [Christine's] need to do what she wanted to do, even though she was being pressured to continue. In some ways I probably helped enable her to make that decision, which didn't exactly make me very popular at the time. But she just had to pull out, the same way I did in '87. There was a kinship between us in terms of having to make a decision for your own survival. With the band coming back without her, you could say, "Oh, there's a large piece missing"-and in some ways there is. But it also opened up new possibilities for setting an overall tone for the album.
I think it allowed us to make, certainly, a much ballsier album, and allowed Stevie and myself to at least begin rediscovering our dynamic as a two-part vocal group. Now I don't think that's so well represented on the new album, because a lot of the stuff that's mine was already set, and a lot of her songs were already written along certain lines as well. When we do this again-and I hope we do, in a year or so-and we write from the ground up, I hope we do them as two-part harmony songs. So, really, there's been a whole realm that's opened up by virtue of Christine not being here.
GWA: Well, perhaps it has shifted the balance of the band toward the masculine; you, Mick and John do seem to be having an awfully good time on this record!
Buckingham [laughs] That's true! I think Mick would say that his playing here is probably the best he's ever done. To some degree, Stevie, left to her own devices-not necessarily on her solo albums, but in the context of Fleetwood Mac-is, if not a more masculine presence, then certainly a more aggressive presence than when she's tempered by what Christine would bring to her songs. But I think the biggest difference has been for John, who's really playing great stuff here. Obviously, Stevie and I pushed each other's buttons over the years, and although we functioned in the band well enough, it wasn't always as comfortable as it could have been. There was always this tension.
GWA: Can you point to any overarching theme to the new record?
Buckingham: That's a tough one. Even on an album as uncryptic, apparently, as Rumours, I don't think that at the time we were very in touch with how obvious the personal side of that was to everyone else. In some ways you want an album to be a bit of a Rorschach test for whoever's listening. I can't honestly say exactly how Stevie's subject matter and mine tie together, but to some degree Say You Will seems to be about healing.
As it neared its conclusion it started to get-for lack of a better phrase-kind of warm and fuzzy, and reflective of this whole journey that the band has been on, including the mistakes that we've made. Without getting into specific lyrical interpretations, the tone of the album seems to be about resiliency, about valuing things that at certain points in time seem like they're easy to devalue-people, relationships. In some ways, it's a little bit of a miracle that we did this at all-especially with the kind of resolve and regeneration and energy that there seems to be. I think that's what people seem to be responding to when they hear it.