By Alison Abbey
16th June 2017
The storied history of Fleetwood Mac has been well documented, from breakups and makeups, with a few band member shufflings along the way. But through all the ups and downs, The Mac has always come back together in one form or another. Now, members Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham have partnered up for their own project, the new album Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie, a collection of 10 original songs. The duo will hit the road this summer, starting June 21 in Atlanta, ahead of two Fleetwood Mac festival shows in July.
McVie chatted with Parade about working with her old friend, that well-publicized break she took from The Mac and what’s next for the band.
How did this project with Lindsey come about?
I had sent Lindsey a couple of demos of songs that I’d written and he did his Lindsey thing in his studio, made sense of them, and played them to me. I loved them. He said, “Why don’t we go into a proper studio and cut them?” That was the chrysalis of – the birth of – this album. Little did I think I’d end up doing a Lindsey/Chris album, but here we are.
Why did you retire from Fleetwood Mac in the ’90s?
I just couldn’t tour anymore. I didn’t want to live out of suitcases, and I was terrified of flying at that point. I was a nervous wreck by the end. It was nothing to do with the band members, at all. It was just that I’d had it. So I left, and I moved back to England. I bought myself a couple of dogs, and they became my life, but I tripped over one of them coming down the stairs one night and hurt my back. Fortunately there was nothing broken, but I got into painkillers, blah, blah, blah, the same old story, and I was going nowhere fast.
What brought you out of that darkness?
I decided to seek help and go to a psychologist. I talked about my flying problem, because I couldn’t travel. I spoke to him about all my other problems, and slowly I started to come out of this situation I’d found myself in. He said, “If you were to fly, where would you want to go to?” I said, “Well, I’d like to go to Maui and visit Mick [Fleetwood].” He said, “Well, why don’t you buy yourself a ticket?” This is how the whole thing with the Mac started. So I bought a first-class ticket to Maui, and about a week later Mick called me and said, “Hey Chris, I’m coming over to London to do some press for the four-piece Fleetwood Mac. Are you around?” I said, “Yes, and bizarrely enough I’d bought a ticket to come over and see you.” He was shocked because he knew I was terrified of flying. He said, “Cancel that ticket and we’ll fly back together.” That’s exactly what we did, and I didn’t even notice the wheels leaving the ground. Since then, I’ve loved flying.
And how did that parlay into a return to Fleetwood Mac?
When we went back to Maui, Mick was doing some gigs with his little blues band that he’s got on the island, so I just did a few gigs with them and thought to myself, “What have I started here?” It wasn’t that long before I had words with Mick about maybe coming back to the band. So we had a conference call, and everybody loved the idea. It was Lindsey who called me once and said, “Now, if you’re serious about this you’ve got to commit. You can’t be leaving again.” I said, “No, I commit, I commit! I’m serious.”
You and Lindsey have worked together creatively for so long. You must have developed a shorthand through the years. Do you even need to speak in the studio at this point?
Not really. That’s always happened. If we’re recording, even with The Mac, we’d be out in the studio working stuff out, and I’d look over at him and he’d give me a nod, and I’d know exactly what chord he was going to play. There was a sort of synergy between us that has always underpinned Fleetwood Mac tracks. Every song you can think of was sort of worked out harmonically, sonically and musically by Lindsey and me, you know? So we thought, “Why have we never thought of doing this before?”
How do you prepare for a tour? Do you bring along any must-haves?
I usually try to take something that makes the hotel room look familiar to me, which would probably be a cashmere blanket, or teddy bears, a piano. I’m pretty low-key. I travel fairly light, especially on the tour. I’m just going to be very casual, traveling in my uniform: Leather jacket, chains, a T-shirt. I’m going to make my life very uncomplicated this time. It’s all about the music.
Are there any new songs you’re looking forward to playing live?
I’m digging “Too Far Gone” at the moment. Lindsey came in with this thumping guitar riff one day, and I said, “What the hell is that?” He said, “Oh, that’s nothing. I didn’t really mean to play that, I was playing something else.” I said, “Well, if you don’t want it, can I have it?” I took it and wrote the song to it. It really goes back to my blues roots, and I just love singing that song live. It’s just killer. And obviously we’ll play some major [Fleetwood Mac] hits.
What’s next after this tour with Lindsey?
The plan is to do a Fleetwood Mac tour next year. I imagine late June or something – start rehearsals a couple months before. And [the band] is doing these big gigs in Los Angeles and New York. [“The Classic” with The Eagles, Journey, Steely Dan and more will take place the weekends of July 15 and July 29.] That should be exciting. Then after that, I don’t know.
You have such a storied history as a band, and you each go out and do your separate projects, but always end up back together. That’s not always the case in rock and roll.
I think it’s a well-known thing: The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. With Fleetwood Mac, it’s an amazing chemistry that we have on stage. I think there’s a reason to go off and do something and experiment—splinter off and do something different. It keeps the nucleus of Fleetwood Mac fresh.
And you support one another’s solo efforts.
Yes! Stevie and I have remained friends over the years, and we’re even closer friends now. She’s always wanting to know how my [project] is going with Lindsey. “We’re fine! We’re not arguing! Everything’s OK, he’s being a good boy.”