After 14 years in the wilderness, Christine McVie delighted fans when she returned to Fleetwood Mac in 2014, touring the globe with the band for much of the following two years. Behind-the-scenes, her return also sparked a new creative collaboration between her and bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, which culminated in this summer's release of their album, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie.

Tracks like "Feel About You" and "Red Sun" have the same bouncy, lovestruck fluidity as "Say You Love Me," while Buckingham adds the jittery catchiness of "In My World" and "Sleeping Around The Corner." With John McVie and Mick Fleetwood handling the rhythm section, it is a Fleetwood Mac album in all but name—throw in a few Stevie tunes, and it would be their best record since 1987's Tango In The Night.

We got the chance to speak to Buckingham (who we last spoke with six years ago) about the new project. He took us through the very long process of putting the album together; his excitement over their songwriting chemistry; why this isn't a Fleetwood Mac album; why he can't quit Fleetwood Mac; his next "pop" solo record; and his feelings on SNL.

Fleetwood Mac will play Dodger Stadium on July 15 and 16 and Citi Field on July 29th and 30th as part of the Classic West/East festival; Buckingham and McVie will also play the Beacon Theater on August 10th. Get more info about the shows here.

When Christine McVie rejoined the band in 2014, was this a project you were already discussing? Or was this something that sort of came about organically as things went along? Yeah, it really was organic and it was sort of in fits and starts. You kind of have to go back to the tour before that, which was the last one we did as a four piece. I had just gotten off doing a couple of solo albums and I think even a third tour just as like a one man show thing. And I had called up John [McVie] and Mick [Fleetwood] to see if they wanted to spend a week or two in the studio and just cut some tracks, because I had some new songs I wanted to work on and I thought that would be a nice fresh thing for me to do. And we did that, cut maybe six things. And then of course I put them on the shelf. I thought that'll be maybe part of another solo album down the line. And I put them on the shelf because we then began rehearsing for that [Fleetwood Mac] 2013 tour.

It was after that tour was over really that Christine reached out to Mick and asked if we would be open to her rejoining the ranks. And of course, I thought that was a wonderful sort of karmic, circular thing to happen. One of the things I didn't see coming was she was also very interested in reconnecting with her creative process in terms of writing. So once she knew she was coming back to the band, she started sending me these rough ideas for songs that she had. We were maybe a couple of months away from beginning rehearsals. And I worked on those for a while and took the liberties I would normally take. Then Mick and I thought when everyone got in town, it might be a really nice welcoming gesture to have her come in a week or two early. And that we'd go in the studio and maybe actually work on some of these things. Again, without it having any agenda at all for what it was going to be.

We knew her coming back to the band was one thing, but no one knew, I certainly didn't know, if there was going to be any creative chemistry left after 15 years. And we got in the studio and we realized our dynamic was actually better than ever. And it didn't take more than about four or five days of us being in the studio to start to become aware that this was feeling like it wanted to be some sort of duo album. And then of course I realized that I had all this stuff sitting on the shelf that I thought was going to be part of a solo album. So I started thinking of what that would make the bigger picture. That stuff was about 3/4 of the way done because I had worked at home after John and Mick and I had cut the initial tracks.

We ended up spending about three weeks in the studio with Christine and made a ton of headway, and basically cut all of the tracks of hers during that time. We didn't finish them, but got this idea that maybe we were on to something. And then, of course, we put those on the shelf and we did this last tour with [Fleetwood Mac], which was part of 2014 and part of 2015. But we knew full well we were going to come back to it when we got off the road, which we did. So that leads us to where we are now. It was never meant to be any one thing. It was just a series of happy accidents.

It sounds like life kept getting in the way from really finishing it. Well yeah. You know, Fleetwood Mac tours. I didn't think Fleetwood Mac would have done another tour so quickly. It's just that when Christine asked if she could come back and we said yes, it made us say, well okay let's do something with that because that's a completely different tour now. I think that led to a sort of quickening the pace of what might normally have been between Fleetwood Mac tours.

Was there a particular song during this long process where things just clicked together? One of my favorites is "Feel About You"—to me that sounds like it could of come straight from Mirage or Tusk. It's on that same melodic wavelength as her beautiful love songs from those records. She writes great love songs. The way she sent that to me was in a completely different form. And I probably took more liberties with that song than anything else. It needed a little more techno and underpinning. But yeah, it had a life of its own. I did two versions, I didn't want to disrespect the idea of what she'd sent me. So I gave her two different versions to choose from. And she picked the second one. Overall, it wasn't really just the one. Everything was pretty effortless, you know?

There was another thing that was so cool about this process was that we did a different kind of co-writing. We've done some co-writing in the past. But this was more delineated, where I would bring in a demo of a track with drums and complete arrangement and chord changes. And even perhaps the intonation of a melody just played as a lead part on a guitar. I would give that to her if she liked it and she would write lyrics and take the basic idea of the melody that I had and articulate it much better and more rhythmically. And so that was something we'd never really done before. The whole thing had a kind of a naturalist quality, you could say. From the point of her arrival, the project certainly took on a life of its own.

As a fan of your work and also Fleetwood Mac, I always was curious why you and Christine didn't write together more. There are a few moments where it really stood out—the one that is my favorite is "Think About Me," where your voices trade off between the verse and the chorus. When I was younger, I couldn't tell who was singing when—it blended together so seamlessly. So I always was wondering why you never wrote like that again. Yeah, that's part of what we thought about too. I think things just went by back in those days, things were just a little more random and a little more chaotic and a little more emotionally willy nilly, you know. Maybe we just let it go by and didn't latch on to it, or perhaps didn't recognize for what they could have been in terms of the potential. Maybe the band politics were such that it just wasn't sort of speaking to us in the same way. But one of the things we did say to each other, sort of in a joking and yet not joking way at all, when we realized that our chemistry was so strong and was so much intact and in some ways was better than ever, was, "Jeez, what took us so long to get to this point?"

Considering that Mick and John were doing the rhythm for the whole album and you had Christine back, was there any discussion of this turning into a Fleetwood Mac project at some point? The way Say You Will was born out of your solo songs at that time? When we first went in with Christine, I don't think anyone was consciously saying no this couldn't be a Fleetwood Mac album. But by the same token, no one had an agenda for it to be that. I think, again, there was something a little more pure afoot. We were wanting to bring Christine back into the fold on a number of levels and weren't necessarily concerned about where it was going to go. I'm sure somebody must have mentioned that in passing, early on. But at the same time, as I say, Christine and I started to see it clearly, in terms of the strengths we seemed to embody. What we were somehow adding up to—the two of us were sort of adding up. And we were early on a little bit protective of it getting pulled away from that focus.

Because I think you've got these two elements with a real shared sensibility and a heart at the middle of it. Which we thought, had it turned into a Fleetwood Mac album of three writers, some of that might have gotten pulled off focus a little bit. And who's to say, it never really happened anyway. But we did get protective to the notion of it being a duo album very early on.

Knowing what an incredible guitar player you are, I was sort of surprised that the album seemed to have very few solos, compared to one of your typical albums. But the album does culminate with the one let loose moment toward the end of the final track. Was that a purposeful move, to build toward this grand moment at the end? No, it wasn't purposeful at all. But that song did have that kind of half time thing to it and it sort of hearkened back to the whole "I'm So Afraid" kind of vibe. (Not that the song does at all or the production does at all.) But, it also seemed to me, in coming up with a running order, that felt like it should be the final track. So it was more about which songs we thought were going to make a good running order.

I have these discussions with my son about why anyone would still be that concerned about making a good running order. And I'm always telling him, "Well, you know, it's like having scenes from a movie." You can have great scenes, you can have a great movie there, but if you don't put the scenes in the right order you don't have a great movie. And he's like, "No, naaaah." Because he listens to one song at a time. And the album, as a form, is not the way things are judged these days. But it's still important to put things in the order that you want to have them run. So this was just one of the things that came about of its own accord. I think the fact that the song with a solo ended up being at the end was just kind of a fluke.

Well it's a pretty nice effect. Those last two songs in particular feel as though they are leaning toward some kind of future path. Almost like a promise of more to come. Well that's a nice thing. It's already occurred to us that we probably would want to do this again, you know. So we'll just have to wait and see how the timing plays out.

It's great having Christine's voice back, both literally and symbolically, in the world in this way. Both you and Christine have taken time off in the past—you both left Fleetwood Mac at different points, had solo careers. She retired for awhile. But you both also ended up coming back to the group, like it has this gravitational pull. Why do you think you all keep finding yourselves tied back to the band so much? Well, I just think it's a really strong thing. We are, for better or for worse, for whatever dysfunction there may be in there, we are a family. We've been through things together that nobody's been through. And I just think that, that's not something to be taken lightly. Sometimes it takes a while or sometimes it takes some distance away from it to be able to come back to it.

But, oddly enough, your point is very well taken, because I think that has something to do with the chemistry being better than ever with Christine and I. She went off and did this 15 year stint away from the band, which was completely on her own terms. And I spent that same 15 years mostly back in the band, but for all intents and purposes, pursuing far more solo endeavors then I had done while Christine was around. You could make a case for saying I was doing things on my own terms, aspiring to be the artist, aspiring to take the risks and all of that. And in a world where people who have been doing this as long as we have can sometimes paint themselves into a corner and certainly find themselves just chasing the brand, neither one of us were doing that. And I think that made for a very interesting equation when we came back together.

I know you guys are on tour right now, but you also have some dates with Fleetwood Mac in the middle of this. You have The Classic West and The Classic East.[with exasperation] Yes, yes.

That sounds like a very knowing yes. It's just, you know, they're one-offs, there's no real context that you can necessarily get behind. They're nice things to be doing. But they're also following sort of awkwardly in the middle of this tour, so there's that, too.

Right, I was going to ask if it is sort of disruptive to what you and Christine have put together for this tour? To flip back and forth from stadium mode to something a bit more intimate. Well yeah, at least [Fleetwood Mac] are doing some of the songs we've been doing [on Buckingham/McVie tour] anyway. And at least it's both of us having to go back and deal with whatever the big machine has to throw at us. But it's not like we have to reinvent anything. It's just a brush up to get to it. I don't know what to say about it. I'm glad we're doing it. It'll be a fun thing. It's just that it's such a different world scale-wise from what we're trying to accomplish out here.

I think I had read somewhere that you have another solo album in the works? Yes that is true. I had been working on that when we got off the road after the last tour. Christine and I did not get back in the studio for a while because I told them, I think the way I put it was, I wanted to regain my creative footing in the studio for myself. And so I spent about six or seven months working at home and I've got a solo album which is maybe one song away from being completed. And as of now, that is penciled in for probably January. But all of this could change depending on what we end up doing for this. But it's waiting in the wings for sure.

Is it acoustic-based, sort of like Seeds We Sow and some of your other recent solo records? No, it's actually, for some reason, it's a pop album. I don't know why I was interested in doing that. That makes all the people at the record company happy, because they can sort of refer it back to previous Fleetwood Mac successes. Not that that's any relevance at all. But yeah, it's an ensemble kind of pop album and so we'll see. I'm quite happy with it. Yeah, it's good.

As long as you don't title it like Go My Own Way, I think that sounds really exciting.[Laughs] Well, I don't think we have to worry about that.

John Russo

A couple of years ago, my colleague was going through all the past guests and the musical guests on Saturday Night Live, and was shocked to realize Fleetwood Mac had never played SNL. I know, I know. I wonder about that.

Was there any particular reason it didn't happen? No, not that I can remember. But, you know, it's very possible that scheduling didn't work out. Or it's possible that, you know, there were the normal set of convoluted politics where somebody wanted ... you know one of the things about Fleetwood Mac you gotta say is that it's not very often that you get everyone to want the same thing at the same time. So I'm just surmising, I don't know why that is. If someone was not wanting to do TV I really couldn't say. But yeah, when you think about that, what are the odds of that, after all these years?

Especially after you became this weird part of SNL lore with the "What's Up With That?" stuff. Yeah. And you know, Saturday Night Live came on in 1975, which is the same year Stevie and I joined. This incarnation of Fleetwood Mac is basically the same age as SNL. So I don't know how we avoided that, but somehow we did.

You should probably figure out a way to change that for next season or something. Yeah. Well if they'll have us, then maybe we can do it. That might be good.

I am sure they would! If you guys could all, you know, get on the same page or what not. Yeah. Well, you put in a good word with Lorne and maybe, you know, maybe we'll get there.

Thank you again so much for talking with us. Very excited for the Beacon show in August, and the new-new record after that. Yeah. I'm glad you're excited for the new record as well. Because, you know, it's not everybody that is.

I have this whole joke I tell about how you have to look for people who do things on their own terms and are not necessarily about the business. So with filmmakers, I'm always referencing someone like Jim Jarmusch. And he's got this great quote which is like, we've got to get this scene right because dozens of people are going to see this movie. [Laughs] And you gotta relate to that and that's the way you gotta think about it. So I appreciate you saying that.

I think I've heard Randy Newman say similar things about his audience. [Laughs] There you go.