As the sonic architect of "Rumours" (1977) and "Tusk" (1979),
guitarist Lindsey Buckingham created some of the most elaborate
walls of sound in rock history. And though he's hardly been prolific
as a solo artist, that music has been nearly as lush as his work
with Fleetwood Mac.
When Buckingham did his last solo tour in support of "Out of the
Cradle" (1992), he was accompanied by a "guitar army" with seven
other ax slingers. That's one reason why the long-awaited follow-up,
"Under the Skin," comes as such as surprise.
With nine originals and two well-chosen covers, the songs on
Buckingham's fourth solo disc keep the focus on his guitar and
vocals, and they are some of the most direct and emotional tunes of
his career. The artist hopes to foster that vibe on an intimate club
tour that brings him to the Park West next week. We spoke shortly
before he hit the road.
Q. Tell me about making "Under the Skin." The
perception is that you haven't made many solo albums because a)
you're a perfectionist in the studio, and b) whenever you want to do
one, you're distracted by that other band you're in ...
A. Well, there are actually a couple of tunes on here that
go all the way back to my last attempt to make a solo album, which
was before [Fleetwood Mac's 1997 album] "The Dance," when I got into
the studio with Mick [Fleetwood] and we began cutting some tracks.
Word got around, and that lead to an intervention of my intentions,
so that was put aside. But there are two songs there that hearken
all the way back to that time, which are "Down on Rodeo" and
"Someone's Gotta Change Your Mind."
Everything else was written much later, because for some reason,
after those songs were in the can and waiting to find a home, I
wasn't writing at all. Most of the songs from "Under the Skin" were
recorded on the road. While we were on the road with Fleetwood Mac,
I had a cheap eight-track that we'd wheel into the room and set up,
and I would just record. I had become increasingly interested in the
application of a single guitar chord, trying to make that succeed in
doing the bulk of the work on a track. The intention was to make an
album that sounded more or less like you might be sitting in a
living room playing to someone.
Q. What inspired you to finally start writing?
A. I think part of it was that there was the sense that I
had gotten all this other stuff off the books; it was almost like
"No, can't do that until I deal with this." Not a very logical
thing, but that's the way it has played out. The other thing was
that Fleetwood Mac spent years on the road exposing our personal
lives, and almost caricaturizing them. When you have two couples
broken up -- and in my mind, neither one had really worked through
their things or gotten closure -- you have to get through that
before you can move on to other stuff.
Q. And that's difficult when you're being reminded of
it every night.
A. That's right! All that kind of stuff obviously wasn't
very healthy, so it took a while. Then, you know, I met a very
beautiful lady named Kristen [Messner, whom he married in 2000], and
we somehow hit it off and now we have three children. Many of the
things I have been striving for as an artist in terms of improving
my skills and the obsessive qualities it takes to keep pushing and
pushing yourself, when I look back, it wasn't necessarily being
noble. ... When you have a kid, you realize what is important in
All of that figures into the subject matter of a lot of these
songs. It's all very, very personal. It's probably the most personal
collection I have ever put out.
Q. The album really does have a very intimate vibe.
It's ironic, because in the shorthand of rock history, you are the
master of the wall of sound.
A. Yes, but this gave me a lot of space to go almost over
the top with vocals and guitar, because you're not really competing
with anything else. It was an interesting process.
It does create a challenge in terms of presenting a show that was
going to resonate with the album, because when we started rehearsing
with the band, I said, "We can't just present a body of work here;
we can't just get on stage and start rocking out. It would be wrong
with this album." We are rocking out a bit by the end, but
basically, the way the show is running now, we have quite a few
songs with me just coming out by myself, and then the band does some
ensemble pieces. And then at the very end everyone loses their