Given their stark contrasts in style, it’s hard to imagine the same man wrote both “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Good Vibrations.” However, therein lies the genius of Brian Wilson as his acclaimed music crisscrosses a wide variety of genres.
As the founder and creative force behind the Beach Boys, the iconic rock/pop group of the 60s and 70s, Wilson ushered in a new style of music that captured the imagination of an entire generation. Often competing directly with such rock royalty as the Beatles for radio air time, Wilson managed to keep his group at the top of the charts with songs that endure to this day.
Wilson began writing music and about surf and sun in order to capitalize on the growing west coast craze, but his body of work slowly evolved into complex arrangements with precise harmonies and emotive lyrics. The 1966 album Pet Sounds became his masterpiece and is widely regarded as one of the greatest pieces of musical composition in rock history.
Anyone who grew up in the sixties has a favorite Beach Boy song, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone from the era who has not seen them perform. In many respects, a Beach Boy concert was a rite of passage from being a casual music fan to a full-fledged music aficionado. Not only did you listen to Wilson’s songs, but you discussed them with your friends, the same way you did with the Beatles. Seeing them on stage was a very special experience, and each of their concerts reminded you of sun and summer no matter the season.
Wilson and his band, which includes original Beach Boy Al Jardine, will perform at Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos on Saturday, July 21, at 7 p.m. at the casino’s new Outdoor Concert Pavilion which seats over 2,000 guests.
BELLA NYC recently attained an exclusive with Wilson, the legendary composer who wrote some of the most memorable songs of the rock era.
How does it feel to be back on the road?
It’s great. We’re having a great time.
What are some of your favorite songs to play?
I like doing “Good Vibrations” because I like the lyrics. At every concert we always play “California Girls” and stuff like that. I enjoy playing “God Only Knows” from Pet Sounds.
Pet Sounds features a lot of different instruments that weren’t commonly used in rock music those days such as the bass harmonica and Electro-Theremin. What made you want to experiment in that way?
I just wanted to try something different. We wanted to try and make it so that people would like it.
What’s it like playing live every night with Blondie Chaplin and (founding Beach Boys member) Al Jardine?
Well they are both great singers. We’ve been doing it for quite a long time. Blondie’s guitar solo at the end of “Sail On, Sailor” shows that he is an amazing guitar player. Also, Al Jardine’s son Matt is a great addition to the band.
What is your songwriting process?
It usually comes with the chords first, then the melodies, then the lyrics.
There are moments in your live show where you act as a conductor to your band from the piano by signaling things like cues and downbeats. During your shows you take a very hands-on approach as the bandleader at times.
Yeah. It brings me back to when we did it.
Have the meanings of the young love songs changed for you as you’ve grown older?
Not really, no. There’s no difference because we keep doing it and doing it.
Your most recent album No Pier Pressure features collaborations with other singers outside of your band. Are you planning on releasing another album soon?
Perhaps a rock ‘n roll album later this year.