Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham is notoriously meticulous in the recording studio. Remember how the band spent a then-record $1 million recording “Tusk” in 1979 because he was so particular?
So how did Mac keyboardist Christine McVie get Mr. Fussy to complete a duo album with her in near record time this year?
“This was not a concept we had in the beginning, to make a duo album. It just kind of happened,” said McVie, who will join Buckingham in concert Monday at Northrop auditorium in Minneapolis. “It didn’t take us that long.”
They worked on a few of her ideas, then went on tour with Fleetwood Mac in 2014 and later revisited the songs. Buckingham brought in five songs of his own, and before you know it they had an album.
“He and I always had a good chemistry musically,” McVie pointed out. “It seemed very natural to me. Easy, actually, to work with him in that way. We’re not the best of friends. We don’t hang out together. But when we get to the studio, we have a good connection.”
No Stevie, no tension
It could be because Stevie Nicks wasn’t involved. When Buckingham and his ex, Nicks, try to work together, there’s always, um, creative tension.
Nicks was busy doing a solo tour to promote her 2014 album “24 Karat Gold,” so Buckingham busied himself with the McVie collaboration.
The rest of Fleetwood Mac — founding drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie — also participated in the recording. Not that this was ever going to be a Fleetwood Mac project.
The resulting album “Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie” features five tunes by each, with Buckingham cowriting three of McVie’s numbers.
One of McVie’s solo tunes, “Carnival Begin,” is a bluesy piece reminiscent of pre-Buckingham/Nicks Fleetwood Mac.
“That actually was a song about Fleetwood Mac, about my journey returning into the band,” the singer-keyboardist said. “It’s my ode to the rest of the band.”
McVie said the other three Mac members approve of the side project.
“They don’t mind a bit. Stevie loves the record. Mick and John love the record. It seems to me that it’s perfectly fine to have people go off and do these things and then we get back together and we’re rejuvenated.”
Buckingham and McVie are on the second leg of their duo tour. Although they play some Fleetwood Mac songs together, the vibe is very different from a Big Mac show. The key difference is drummer Fleetwood, who, of course, is not on tour with Buckingham and McVie.
“Mick’s drumming is so enormous, he’s so loud. When you get another drummer, who plays an electronic drum kit, it’s quite interesting,” McVie explained. “This is a great band. It’s a different feel all together. I’m loving it. Lindsey’s having a ball.”
Plus, there’s no Nicks voice on such Mac tunes as “Little Lies.”
“We have other singers in the band,” McVie pointed out. “It’s a different sound. I don’t really miss it.”
McVie, 74, was semiretired from 1998 until 2014, although she released a solo album, “In the Meantime,” in 2004.
“I cut it in my garage. I didn’t really promote it. I bet you’ve never heard of it. It didn’t sell anything.”
It wasn’t exactly widely circulated in the States. The U.K. native was living in the English countryside at the time. And since she had a fear of flying, she never promoted the album.
McVie did get reacquainted with Fleetwood Mac briefly this summer when the group participated in the Classic West and East shows, two superstar concerts in baseball stadiums.
“It was pretty weird. It was one extreme to the other. That was 70,0000 people vs. 4,000 that Lindsey and I play to,” said McVie, who had rejoined the band for the 2014 tour that started in the Twin Cities.
“Our band is quite structured. Fleetwood Mac is very flamboyant, with Mick and Stevie. It was definitely different, but I loved it. We all loved it. But it was a bit of a shock to play to such a massive amount of people.”
McVie is confident there will be a Fleetwood Mac tour in 2018.
“We’re all set for April/May rehearsals. We’ll kick off in July for a year,” she said. “Yeah, another tour.”
Will there be another Mac album? The quintet’s last studio project, “Say You Will,” came out in 2003. (McVie played on two songs.)
“I can’t say yea and I can’t say nay because nobody knows. Not even the band,” McVie said. “One could certainly hope. One of the issues is the time to do it. There are other things like whether Lindsey and Stevie want to work together again in the studio, I don’t know.”
Speaking of Buckingham, why is it that Mr. Fussy never looks happy in any of the publicity photos for the Buckingham/McVie project?
“He never smiles,” McVie observed. “I could show you photos on my phone and tons of pictures of Lindsey smiling. I’ve got shots of Lindsey laughing, but he doesn’t like them. He likes to have that very sullen look. He just likes to look gaunt. He smiles onstage. Don’t worry.”