EARLY WORD: California Dreaming


The Lindsey Buckingham Appreciation Society is a tribute band/supergroup of sorts, featuring a revolving cast of local indie rockists who come together from time to time to perform album-length hommages to the Fleetwood Mac canon. The current lineup features the incomparable Tony Goddess (Papas Fritas, etc) on guitar, Dave Hartley (Nightlands, War on Drugs, etc) on the electric bass, Eliza Hardy (Buried Beds, etc) on the keys, Birdie Busch on vocals and accoutrements, Charlie Hall (Jens Lekman, Tommy Guerrero, War on Drugs, etc) on guitar and Patrick Berkery (Pernice Brothers, Photon Band, Danielson, War on Drugs, etc etc) on drums. TLBAS will be reprising their standing room only 2010 performance of Tusk, Fleetwood Mac’s druggy 1979 classic, from beginning to end  at Johnny Brendas on Saturday. Feathered hair and coke spoons are not required but strongly recommended. This interview first posted back in 2012, on the occasion of TLBAS performing the Mac’s Mirage.

PHAWKER: Why The Lindsey Buckingham Appreciation Society and not, say, The Alex Chilton Appreciation Society or Nick Drake or Fred Neil or Townes Van Zandt Appreciation Society? What’s so great about Lindsey Buckingham?

CHARLIE HALL [pictured below, in bow tie with thumb up]: Funny you should ask. Because the whole thing came about because of overall Mac appreciation, not specifically Lindsey. I mean, if you really wanna get down to it, Christine’s where it’s at. And Mick and John (let’s face it, those dudes are so locked in they count as one). Okay, and Stevie. I mean, Lindsey had a vision…and he pushed that band to go to some pretty far out places they never ever would’ve gone with any of their prior frontmen (but don’t get me started on Bob Welch…I love that dude). All five of them (Christine, Stevie, Lindsey, John, & Mick) are equal in terms of greatness. I think once Pat and I stopped just talking about it and actually started putting this thing together, Tony Goddess was our next stop. Tony, equal-opportunist Mac lover that he is, definitely has a particularly Lindsey-centric vibe. Tony’s an engineer, and I think he really digs the playfulness and adventurousness of Lindsey’s recording style and also his real classic Everlys/rock ‘n roll aesthetic (both in terms of his songwriting and in his mechanisms such as the echoed vocals, etc). Where was I? Oh yeah the name. I mean, I think it just kinda turned into the Lindsey thing. But it could’ve been any one of ‘em, really. We wanted a name that was reverent but kinda playful, I think. It seemed to capture what we are ultimately going for. To answer your question about what makes Lindsey so great…he really pushed that band and is firey and had a vision and damn he is one of the best guitar players of all time. I’m not sure he gets included in that conversation as much as he deserves. I mean, the dude’s really a mad genius. But yeah, for the record, this is “The Christine McVie Appreciation Society” as far as I’m concerned.

As far as why the Mac in general, not Chilton, not Townes or Nick Drake…I dunno. I’ve been in love with this band since I first heard Rumours as a four year old. Hell, I used Rumours as a way to learn how to use a four-track…doing my own version of it. I’m sure there’s a million Fleetwood Mac cover bands out there wearing leather and lace and opening their shows with “The Chain” and the whole nine yards. No disrespect. I bet a bunch of ‘em are great. But we’re not trying to get a piece of that pie. We are trying to approach this thing less as doing an architectural drawing and more as a sort of watercolor impression of or homage to what we love about this stuff. If we were trying to recreate the records as they are, we’d have probably need three keyboardists, ten backup singers, and a couple extra guitarists hiding behind the amps. It would look something like ‘The Dance’.

PHAWKER: Last time around you guys did Mirage beginning to end, this time it’s Tusk. How Method Actor do you guys get when you are working on these recreations — like, do you twirl scarves and blow coke up each other’s asses, that kind of thing?

CHARLIE HALL: There are no defined roles in this project, aside from the fact that Dave plays bass and Pat plays drums. But we intentionally try to match songs with singers based on who’s inspired by what. We do a lot of shifting around of keys and gender roles at times. You’re not gonna see Pat with a set of wooden balls hanging from his belt and I don’t think any of us even drinks Coca-Cola, let alone, you know…what you alluded to regarding Stevie and an allegedly deviated septum. Birdie carries around this peppermint oil stuff that’s apparently good for your skin and smells good – that’s pretty far out, right? The only thing we actually do to get in the right mindset is we fight a lot right before we play. And then try to upstage each other and occasionally throw empty red wine bottles at each other mid-set.

PHAWKER: What makes Tusk worthy of a song by song cover/homage? Compare and contrast it with Mirage.

CHARLIE HALL: Yeah, we did this a few years ago because it seemed like a pretty fun idea to pull together some pals and perform an album (Tusk) in its entirety that seemed under appreciated and worthy of more exposure. Turned out to be a blast. I mean, Tusk sold a boatload of copies, but among friends over the past decade or so, I felt like it was a really, really special record that didn’t have the acclaim it deserves. (Side note: I think that has changed over the past few years as well). So in thinking about doing this whole thing again, it was important to me that we had a PURPOSE, you know? Again, I’m not sure the world needs another group of people dressing up and playing the Fleetwood Mac hits. So I thought, based on how and why we came together the first time, that our sort of “mission” should be to take a whole piece of work, one that’s not Rumours, say, and give it some attention. I think ‘Mirage‘ is a widely ignored classic album in the Fleetwood Mac catalog. It was the fourth of the five studio albums with the classic Lindsey/Stevie/Christine/John/Mick lineup. I’ve read interviews with the band where even THEY dismiss the album at times. I know that Lindsey felt that the experimentalism and scope of ‘Tusk‘ really had people (the suits and even others in the band) reeling. Rumours sold what, like 16 million copies at that point (that number is well over 40 million by now)? ‘Tusk‘ something like four million, I think. There’s a lot to say about Mirage. It’s got some stone cold hits on it, like “Hold Me”…which I think for many is indelibly linked with the MTV era and that crazy awesome video in the desert. “Gypsy” is on there. “Book of Love” is an amazing Lindsey tune. “Love in Store”, the opener, is one of my favorite Christine tunes. There’s a song that dates back to the Buckingham/Nicks pre-Mac era called “That’s Alright” which manages to be at once a rootsy strummer and a totally typically crazy and unique Stevie tune. Compared with ‘Tusk‘, it’s certainly more concise and overall more polished, but I think pound for pound has a very similar ratio of big radio-ready hits and totally weirdoville oddities (see: “Empire State”). I think a more subtle commonality with ‘Tusk‘ is that as you get deeper into both of these records, it’s some of those initially inaccessible tunes which end up with the biggest payoffs. Songs that I used to be less into (often the Lindsey ones, truth be told) now are the ones that draw me to the records. Funny how that works.

PHAWKER: Does Lindsey Buckingham know about this and if so what was his reaction?

CHARLIE HALL: I doubt Lindsey’s too concerned about us. I do know that his niece is aware about it and has hit Pat up on the TLBAS tumblr site or FB or something. Maybe she’s told Uncle Linds about it, but I don’t know. Pat’s done a few interviews with Lindsey over the years, but I don’t think its ever come up. I would hope that he appreciates what it is – a group of friends doing a reverent, unique, and loving homage to this thing that he has spent a good part of his life crafting…and that we’re not out trying to do a Vegas knock-off or anything. And no one’s wearing a frizzy wig and acting like a lunatic and barking like a dog (see: “Holiday Road”).

PHAWKER: What do you say to people who say Fleetwood Mac began and ended with Peter Green?

CHARLIE HALL: I have some pals who say that Fleetwood Mac began and ended with Peter Green. And to them I say, “You’re half right!”. But if they really want to talk about it, I’d direct them to “Brown Eyes” on ‘Tusk‘, on which Peter Green played (uncredited). I also might try to keep them away from, say ‘Behind the Mask’. But I’d have them work backwards through the 70s making sure they hit on some of those great Bob Welch era jams (see: “Hypnotized”). And I would say this: “Albatross” might be my favorite Mac tune ever. That was Peter Green through and through. A/B that with “Sun King” off ‘Abbey Road’ and you will realize that The Beatles directly ripped off Fleetwood Mac. There’s not even a question about it. “Albatross” came out in January 1969…well before recording started for ‘Abbey Road’. So there you go…Fleetwood Mac influenced The Beatles. We could agree on THAT!