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To this day, The Beach Boys remain America's paramount
pop group, landing a remarkable 36 top 40 hits,
induction in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame and a
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. On oldies rock
radio, the group runs neck in neck for the most modern
day airplays with the Beatles, while Rolling Stone
recently named Pet Sounds (Capitol) the second best
album of all time. Speaking of that landmark
recording, the band is currently celebrating its 40th
anniversary, re-releasing the project in both its mono
and stereo entirety on CD, along with a bonus DVD of
behind the scenes footage. The extra attention has
also given co-founding lead singer Mike Love, longtime
keyboardist Bruce Johnston and the rest of the current
Beach Boys line-up a reason to load up their tour
buses for a harmony laden trip down memory lane. Love
recently chatted with Livewire's Andy Argyrakis from
the road about an upcoming orchestral run, the
milestone anniversary, his opinions about Brian
Wilson's recent Smile CD and thoughts relating to a
Livewire: How have The Beach Boys been able to stay at such a high success level even after all these years?
Love: The Beach Boys, the Beatles and the early Motown artists are the three most played musical entities from the 1960s on oldies radio. Not a day goes by in the U.S. where a Beach Boys song is not played. In fact, the Beatles and Beach Boys are virtually tied for airplay, only surpassed by a combination of the Motown roster- Marvin Gaye, the Jackson Five, the Supremes and that amazing collection of talent.
Livewire: How have you personally been able to keep going after so many decades on the road?
Love: My personal point of view is I'm able to do what I do because of transcendental meditation, which I've been doing since the early 60s. I gravitate towards that practice because it's extremely helpful in going beyond the surface level of thinking to a much deeper level. It's been a very spiritually rewarding and also practical way to find deeper rest. I'll take 20 minutes for meditation anywhere from buses to hotels to backstage in a dressing room, though I prefer to do it comfortably in a hotel room. Who knows, I might have turned to alcohol or gone the way of a couple of my cousins in doing certain types of non-prescribed drugs. [Dennis Wilson died in 1983 in an accidental drowning and Carl Wilson passed away in 1998 from complications of lung cancer].
Livewire: What are you looking forward to most about being back on stage with an orchestra?
Love: We have charts for a lot of the Pet Sounds stuff like "Here Today" and "Sloop John B," which all sound amazing. "California Girls" has an intro like an overture already, though it pre-dated Pet Sounds by about a year. I think a lot of our sounds are really compatible with [an orchestra] and we've performed with them all over the place, but this will be our first time ever doing so in Chicago.
Livewire: What are your reflections on the Pet Sounds project at this point?
Love: It took a long time for that record to go platinum and initially Capitol didn't know how to treat it because it was kind of different from what we'd done before. It languished for awhile, but not in relation to accolades and respect from other musicians. In fact, Rolling Stone named it the number two album of all time in a poll and said that "Good Vibrations" was the song of the century. But Pet Sounds itself probably sold more in the last five years than the first thirty-five, which is kind of ironic.
Livewire: Can we expect any new releases from the band in the near future?
Love: We sold about two and half million of Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys a few years ago, and based on the success of that, Capitol is releasing The Warmth of the Sun in May as a companion. It will have 28 songs that may not have been the band's biggest hits, but are fantastic from an artistic point of view. It should appeal to real fans and even those who aren't familiar with those songs, who will likely be impressed. The title cut was written by [me and Brian] in 1963 and we recorded it shortly after JFK's death. It's a very melancholy and emotional song for us that fans can rediscover.
Livewire: What are the chances of fans getting a batch of entirely new material?
Love: I personally completed a CD of songs, one of which is called "Make Love Not War." Maybe I'll call the record Mike Love Not War, but it's not titled yet. The song laments the fact that human beings have to resort to the same warfare methods of solving problems, which hearkens back to the 60s and the anti-war chants. Some of the songs are very romantic, like "All the Love in Paris," the sort of celestial ballad "Love Like a Fairy Tale" and the sort of gospel "Unleash the Love." It's philosophical, spiritual and romantic all tied into one, which is reminiscent of us being in India with the Beatles- particularly George Harrison. We both celebrated our birthdays in 1968 as the Pisces Brothers since that's our sign.
Livewire: I'm curious what your take is on Brian Wilson's release of Smile as a solo record rather than linking up with the rest of the living Beach Boys?
Love: It's historically become one of the most famous unreleased albums and I wasn't in favor of [Brian re-recording and releasing it]. I heard him quoted as saying his new group was better than the Beach Boys and I think that's impossible because we all had pretty darn good vocals together! Smile was sort of the follow-up to Pet Sounds that Brian shelved for many years, but it was re-done without those of us who are still around to accomplish the manifestation of it. I would've preferred it to be a Beach Boys project than a Brian solo album, but if people like it, great.
Livewire: Will there ever be a full-fledged reunion?
Love: George Harrison said that the Beatles would get back together when John Lennon wasn't dead anymore, which I thought was pretty sardonic. Dennis is gone and Carl died nine years ago, which leaves myself, Bruce, Brian, Al Jardine and David Marks, who I refer to as the lost Beach Boy, even though he was on the first four album covers and the first few years of concerts. Anything is possible, but there have been legal issues with respect to Al and Brother Records, the company that controls the Beach Boys' name. I look forward to the day those resolve and the way is cleared to entertain those concepts, but the conditions would have to be right. We'd have to perform at a level appreciated by the public, not doing it to try and rack up [high priced] guarantees.
Livewire: How would you like The Beach Boys' legacy to be remembered?
Love: I've always felt it would be great to stand for something other than pop music and we've always tried to support humanitarian and environmental causes. But in terms of enjoyment, appreciation and sheer pleasure, we hear time and time again how much these songs have meant to millions of listeners. If the Beach Boys can ultimately add to the quality of life in various ways and stand for more than sales, than that's a good accomplishment.
The Beach Boys appear with the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra at the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont, IL on Saturday, March 24. For additional information, log onto www.ticketmaster.com.