Skip to comments.Interview With Beach Boy Brian Wilson
Posted on 08/13/2004 9:35:15 AM PDT by Zack Nguyen
Questions for Brian Wilson : Summer Fun, Anyone?
Interview by Deborah Solomon
Your album ''Smile'' has been called the greatest rock record that was never released. It's the Beach Boys' lost masterpiece.
We started it in 1967, but we never finished it.
But it is scheduled for release in September. Why did you decide to finish recording it now?
I wanted to get it out before I died.
Are you dying?
And you also have a new solo recording that just came out, ''Gettin' In Over My Head.'' Is it any good?
Each song is different. They're not all the same like the Rolling Stones. You know, Rolling Stones songs all sound kind of the same.
Mick Jagger probably thinks Beach Boys songs all sound the same.
Do you think that the Beach Boys were more artistically adventurous than the Rolling Stones?
I think we're about even. The Beach Boys were a pretty good singing group, but the Stones played their instruments better.
It has been a fairly long time, six years, since you last released a studio recording.
I can't explain it. I had writer's block for a while. Sometimes you sit at the piano and play around, and if you can't get a melody you quit.
It's hard to imagine you as thwarted in any way. Most of us think of you as a poet of surf-filled afternoons and fast cars. The Beach Boys turned summer into the quintessential American season, a time of innocent fun and wildness.
Summer means happy times and good sunshine. It means going to the beach, going to Disneyland, having fun.
But isn't that all a perfect fiction? You have led what seems like a haunted life.
Every now and then I hear voices in my head, but not very clear. I can't understand what they are saying. It's a mental illness. I have been diagnosed as a manic depressive.
When did you last experience an auditory hallucination?
A year ago. I was writing music and I heard voices at the piano. I just jammed on my head and said, ''Stop, stop, stop.'' I take Klonopin and Luvox. They help me relax and keep me from being scared.
What are you scared of?
I think about death a lot. I think about my brothers' deaths.
Your brother Carl died of lung cancer, and your brother Dennis died in a drunken drowning accident. Do you think of them every day?
No, not every day, but about once every two weeks I will think about them.
Is it true you are deaf in one ear?
Yes, my father used to beat the hell out of us.
I guess your songs help carry you away from the memory of your father.
Right. That is probably why I wrote those happy songs. I try to get as close to paradise as I can. I try to steer clear of heartbreaks.
Do you listen to rap?
I don't like it because I can't hear the lyrics of the songs. They say them so fast, and you can't understand what they are saying.
Plus they curse. The Beach Boys never cursed.
I think cursing is a bunch of malarkey.
Are there any musicians under the age of 60 whom you admire?
Not at all. I don't listen to any younger musicians.
It sounds as if you are stuck in a time warp. Who are your heroes?
l McCartney and Phil Spector.
But Phil Spector was just charged with murdering an actress!
hink he will get off. I think it was an accident.
Who came up with the name of the Beach Boys?
Promotion guy for Candix Records, which was the record company we were on. I didn't like it. I didn't like the word ''boys.'"
Do you surf?
I never learned how.
It's not too late. You can learn now.
I don't want to. I am afraid. I am afraid I would get hurt. I haven't been to the beach in a decade.
Is summer your favorite season?
No. I like fall.
I read a hilarious story about Brian Wilson the other day. Apparently a famous, young musician asked him to sign a copy of "Pet Sounds". Brian signed it and wrote, "Thanks for the great songs", but then thought better of it and crossed out "great" and wrote "good" instead. It's recounted in an article on the website.
Few people better illustrate the term "tormented genius" than Brian Wilson. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of "Smile."
Not at all. I don't listen to any younger musicians.
Probably half the country would agree with this. Most everything I have heard in the past 25 plus years is just garbage.
Great music, heartbreaking story.
What a loon. The songs on Her Satanic Majesty's Request don't sound anything like those on Exile on Main St.. ....and there are countless other examples. The dude is completely fried.
And Smile is a mindblowing composition.
I've always been a big fan of the whole 'Smile' thing... bootlegs, tapes, etc. It's highly flawed stuff, especially thematically, but the whole tortured melodic genius thing is fascinating.
The real amazing parts are the 'Good Vibrations' and 'Heroes and Villians' instrumental outtakes with LA studio session pros... dozens of alternate versions and weird left turns. A lot of this was on the box set rarities disk.
I guess I'm excited about this new version, but wary about Brian's recent abilities.
I've taken most of this week off in order to do some work around the house and listened to Pet Sounds yesterday while glazing windows. It's an amazing album. Ironically, The Beach Boys (sans Wilson) played two nights ago at the Sioux Empire fair. I wonder how long Mike Love will continue to pick the bones of Brian Wilson's songs. I feel pity for Brian, I understand his father was a complete b*stard, and I have to wonder what all Brian would have wrote if he didn't discover drugs and druggists.
You might enjoy this.
The Beach Boys made High School less hideous.
I always found the Stones a bit haphazard, as if they flipped on the recorder and whatever wound up on there, went on the album. I do like "Honkey Tonk Woman" but I'm not ahuge fan of their style. I guess I like polished, but not too polished.
Actually, the Beach Boys show you saw was probably Mike Love and Bruce Johnston only. Al Jardine has split and is doing his own shows now. I think he's using part of Wilson Phillips as well. Really odd.
What an amazing interview!! I am glad he is finishing Smile.
Now if Guns N Roses could only do the same for "Chinese Democracy" ! 10 years and counting....
I'll be very curious to see what he did with "Heroes and Villians." That song had real possibilities, and wasn't half bad in the glued-together form the Beach Boys put it out in in 1967. Sounded incomplete though (and it was.)
Along with that, I always thought that "Surf's Up" was hauntingly beautiful.
I saw a great TV interview with Brian Wilson at the piano a few years back; when discussing the Beach Boys' early sound, he asked the interviewer to "hold my nose." It was pretty funny.
One advantage the Beach Boys had is they had to hire musicians to play for them while they sang. So they could get different instrumental sounds even though the choir always sounded the same to me. The music is quite good. Ray Charles is a musical genius, so is Brian.
That's great - Pet Sounds is an amazing album. In fact, I saw somewhere that Rolling Stone ranked it the #2 album of all time, right behind Sgt. Pepper.
Anyone know what the story is behind the lyrics "Lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson did"
I don't know, but Brian at one point didn't leave his bed for a few years, except to get high. I think there's many years of his life that he remembers onlyin flashes.
I hear some new aspect of it on each listening. It's quite good, and would deserve a very high ranking in any index.
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