“After all this time you would think there was nothing left to discover, nothing left to work out, no new chapters to be written. But that is not the case,” singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham tells Rolling Stone.
Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood and singer Stevie Nicks recently gathered for interviews in a huge, wood-paneled room at the Village Recorder, a legendary recording space in West Los Angeles. More than three decades earlier, the band spent 13 months there making the 1979 double album Tusk, the surprisingly experimental follow-up to Rumours.
“We have a connection with this building like we have with nothing else,” said Nicks. “It’s hallowed ground.”
At the interview Nicks and Buckingham held hands, Fleetwood sitting beside them as votive candles flickered around the room. (Bassist John McVie stayed home, and former singer-keyboardist Christine McVie has been retired to the English countryside since 1998.)
Rolling Stone‘s cover story about the making of Rumours featured a photo of you all in bed together. Were the stories of romantic turmoil true?
Stevie Nicks: They’re all true. [Laughter]
Lindsey Buckingham: That really was a lot of the appeal of Rumours. The music was wonderful, but the music was also authentic because it was two couples breaking up and writing dialogue to each other. It was also appealing because we were rising to the occasion to follow our destiny. So you had to live in denial, you had to learn to compartmentalize your emotions and do what needs to be done. It brought out the voyeur a little bit in everybody.
Nicks: Most people, when they break up, you don’t see each other for a while. You hope that you don’t run into that person ever at that point. In our situation, the breakups were going on, and we had to go to work the next day. It was very hard. You had to walk in with your head high and an open heart. We had to be very focused, and we knew that because no matter how hard it was
You knew you were going to the studio at 2 [p.m.], and you knew you would be there until 3 or 4 in the morning. And you couldn’t sit there at the board and glare at your ex-partner. You had to be a grownup. Even though there were a thousand people around us saying to do this or do that, we still had to gather together as a fivesome and say, “We’re not going to let this beat us.”
When you do the Rumours songs now, do any of those original feelings ever come back?
Buckingham: Oh, I hope not.
Nicks: I think the original feelings do come back. They take me right back to where we were. The songs morph a little bit every time we do them. Instrumentally, they morph. “Gold Dust Woman” is sometimes Indian. Sometimes it’s just rock & roll. It travels, and all these songs do that. To me, they are always exciting. I never feel bored when we burst into one of our big hit songs, because what they were all written about was so heavy that they could never be boring.
Lindsey had hesitated in the past to come back, so did something get resolved?
Buckingham: There were a number of false starts where I was trying to make solo albums. They would get constantly folded into group efforts. In
Nicks: What else happened is I went into rehab on December 12th, 1993 and came out on the 27th of January – 47 days to come off of Klonopin. I nearly died. And I think one of the reasons that Lindsey left is because I was very, very high on this horrific tranquilizer. I didn’t even make it to most of the recording sessions for [1987’s] Tango in the Night. I was sick. And I think he was horribly worried that I was going to die. That’s one of the reasons you [turns to Buckingham]wanted to quit. We had this huge tour and it was booked. We were at Chris’ house and [Lindsey] stood up and said “I quit,” and I – being so high and so messed up – just raged across the room and I wanted to kill him.
When I came out of rehab, I did a small three-month tour, and I got through it. I was going to be OK, and everyone knew I was going to be OK. And I think that’s when Lindsey thought Fleetwood Mac could go
So everything since then has been different from what it was before?
Buckingham: It’s still evolving, and that’s the beauty of it too. I’ve known Stevie since high school. We were a couple for many, many years, and we’ve been a musical couple forever. After
Nicks: Studio D was covered with Polaroids and shrunken heads and angel wings, and all of our stuff was in there. You walked into that room and there were big massive tusks on each side of the board, and the board was called Tusk. All of those songs – “Save Me a Place,” “Sara” – it became something so beautiful and so ahead of its time. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall too when they played
What are your current recording plans?
Buckingham: When Stevie was on the road, and not long after her mom had passed away, Mick, John and I got together and we cut a bunch of tracks, and they turned out great. They were all done in Stevie’s keys. They were done with her in mind. Subsequently, Stevie and I have gotten together, and she’s sung on two of those. There’s also another track that dates back to [pre-Fleetwood Mac project] Buckingham-Nicks that Stevie and I built up from scratch. There’s a lot of stuff there. Some of this we will do in the show. We’re not pushing it. We’re just going to wait and see what everybody wants to hear.