The Rumours experience was so challenging behind-the-scenes, Buckingham tells Clash, that it forced him to develop the same creative muscles he would later use in his solo career.
"I think searching for change is engrained in me, but ... I think the idea of taking chances, trying to seek things outside your comfort zone, and the aspiration to keep being an artist, came from the time of Rumours and Tusk," Buckingham told the magazine. "Rumours was such a huge success commercially that it became more about the subtext, our personal lives, rather than the music."
The apparent dichotomy, Buckingham says, forced him to reconcile with the fact that Fleetwood Mac might not be around forever and he would have to be self-sufficient as an artist on some level no matter what.
Buckingham's self-titled new solo album is available now.
"You're either going to follow through with the expectations that are now being imposed on you from the external world, or you try to undermine that and try to remember who you are as a musician, as an artist, and a writer — and why you got into this in the first place."
Fleetwood Mac became wildly successful in spite of the fact that the band members didn't "on paper — belong in the same group together."
The synergy of that friction, however, led to something "more than the sum of its parts" which Buckingham described as a kind of "gift" to him artistically.
Fleetwood Mac hasn't made a new studio album since 2003, but because the band members are all capable artists on their own, they've each been able to flourish operating "smaller machines" under their own names.
Buckingham has no illusions about competing with Fleetwood Mac these days, but he says he appreciates the freedom his solo career grants him.
"I've always done what I've wanted to do, basically, and I think the realization I had to come to was being willing to lose some of the huge audience Fleetwood Mac have in order to pursue that," he concluded. "It's just a trade-off you have to be willing to make in order to do things on your own terms."
Ironically, Buckingham's solo career was one of several apparent drivers of his eventual ousting from Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks apparently pushed for Buckingham's termination after he began urging the group to delay a tour so he could go out with his solo band first.