Lindsey Buckingham has a bit of a reputation. For years, the Fleetwood Mac singer and guitarist has been as well known for his ability to knock out sublime pop tunes as his propensity to mix it up with bandmates Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. But the Buckingham we spoke to on the eve of Fleetwood Mac’s latest reunion tour — once again without Christine McVie, who left the group at the beginning of the decade — is far different than the character you’ll find in rock history books. At 59, the father of three has admittedly mellowed, telling us that the little things no longer bother him in a big way.
How do you make it through two hours on-stage every night?
It goes pretty quick. Somebody made the comment the other day that you don't get paid for going on-stage; you get paid for the downtime before and after. A lot of the time what seems more challenging is maybe the few hours leading up to the show. In terms of energy level, it comes from somewhere. I know it's all very age inappropriate what I'm doing.
Does it bother you that Stevie gets the biggest cheers of the night for her twirls?
It's very balanced out for me. I don't feel like I have to compete with a set of preconceptions in terms of focal point. All I can say is she has her moments where she gets big applause and there are many points in the show where I feel I'm getting the energy. I certainly would not begrudge Stevie her moments.
Are there any of the old songs you refuse to sing, either because they bring up too many memories or you’re just sick of them?
Not really. We sat down and we came up with a set list, which was a pretty obvious group of songs. It's what we do. It's our job. We have a good job. A lot of people would want our job. The older you get the more you feel blessed that you have not only survived the business this long but stayed on top of it. My challenge is working out the logistics of making my solo albums every once in a while.
This seems like a pretty good gig. What did you get out of making your last solo album?
It relieved a sense of frustration I had for a number of years of wanting to do something solo and having it intervened upon on every occasion. Which is fine. If you're a band member you've got to think about what the group wants to do first. But after Say You Will, I was in a place of clarity where I said, "Don't bother me for three years. Let me get this done.” I think I learned a lot.
Do you ever bring your kids out on the road?
Some of the time. Last time we went out they were all pretty portable but now they're all in school so it's a little bit tough. I think they do like it. They've grown up with it. They're actually a little more aware of the stuff I was doing solo since my oldest is 10. They don't remember that much from the last Fleetwood Mac tour.
Are you feeling more mature with age?
I have to try. You hit a point where a lot of things that you thought would push your buttons don't really push your buttons any more. That's why this tour is going so smoothly. Nothing has really been bothering me. Something must have changed. Things that used to bother me don't bother me anymore.