The mercurial forces behind Fleetwood Mac - John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham - are back on the road, once again without Christine McVie. And for the first time in a long time, the band doesn't have any new material to promote, so the Unleashed Tour is made up of two hours of fan favorites. We asked the group's 59-year-old guitarist - and a recent father of three - Buckingham how he felt about that. Fleetwood Mac plays Wednesday at Oakland's Oracle Arena and Thursday at San Jose's HP Pavilion.
Q: There was some talk last year that Sheryl Crow was going to take over Christine McVie's position in the band. Did you block that?
A: No, I didn't block it. One of the things that made this go so smoothly is that I've been really unparticular about my opinions. I did not think that was a good idea. One, she was going to come in for a period of time and it spoke to me like something that had come from the top down, like a marketing idea. The other thing is that it struck me as a bit loungey to have someone else come in and do Christine's songs. She went and shot herself in the foot anyway.
Q: How's that?
A: She somehow announced she was going to join Fleetwood Mac. We had talked about it, but it had not been decided. So that became a red flag for the band. At the end of the day, it wasn't the right thing to do. So that was it. I was actually quite happy it turned out that way. We're much better working with the four core people.
Q: Besides, the last thing you need is another ego in this band.
A: That's right. Stevie and I are still working on our dynamic, which, believe it or not, is still evolving.
Q: Does doing a greatest-hits tour make you a nostalgia act?
A: This resting-on-our-laurels tour? We have a body of work that will transcend that label, I think. Had we gone in to make a new album first, it would have felt more in line with the things I value. Oddly enough, having not done that, it put us in the position of going into rehearsals completely anxiety-free, as opposed to having the residue of making the album to deal with. The actual experience of doing the tour has been quite thrilling. I have no explanation for that. It's kind of like a point you get to as a band, and for a moment you can rest and say, "This is what's happened, and it's pretty f- good."
Q: Having three children probably puts the band dramas in perspective.
A: It's certainly put a balance on everything. It's made it easier to enjoy what I'm doing now. It probably helped that I did a couple of solo albums and got some touring out of the way. You hit a point where a lot of things that you thought would push your buttons don't really push your buttons anymore. That's why this tour is going so smoothly. Nothing has really been bothering me.
Q: How much do you think your robust chest hair had to do with Fleetwood Mac selling those 100 million albums?
A: Wow. I would say none. The whole band, or just me?
Q: Specifically you, since I don't remember Stevie or Christine having much chest hair.
A: John has got a good tuft on there. I would hope very little. That's the first time I was asked that. It could have been something I missed.