For Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, Life's a (Busy) Beach
He may be 71 years old, but Head Beach Boy Brian Wilson might be busier today than at any point in his career. Having already completed the band's 50th anniversary reunion tour and new studio record last year, he's now on the road with two of the Boys (Al Jardine and David Marks) and guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck for a fall co-headlining tour.
co5Media Beach Men: David Marks, Brian Wilson, and Al Jardine
Then, he's working with journalist Jason Fine on a new autobiography (1991's Wouldn't It Be Nice is often dismissed as a whitewash under the influence of then-controversial therapist/manager, Eugene Landy). And filming on a biopic, Love & Mercy -- featuring Paul Dano as the young Brian and John Cusack as the mature one -- just wrapped.
Oh, and he's in the studio working on three new records: a traditional pop effort, a mostly instrumental disc with Beck, and a concept album with a "suite" of songs.
"This is a time of creativity for me!" Wilson enthuses. "We're doing an album now of mellow and beautiful music."
And the movie?
Finally, the Beach Boys have also just released a massive, career-spanning box set. Made in California's six discs combine the big hits, deep cuts, live recordings, demos, alternate takes, and nearly 60 unreleased tracks.
Among the ephemera is Brian Wilson's 1959 high school essay "My Philosophy," reproduced in its original handwritten form. All five surviving original/classic lineup Beach Boys had a hand in its compilation.
"I just wanted to keep the stuff on there that people should hear and not the trials and errors, which weren't so flattering," Jardine offers. "But what's on there is amazing. It's seven hours of music! And lesser-known songs I'm glad to see on there like 'Kiss Me Baby,' 'Our Car Club,' and 'Custom Machine.'"
Jardine is also excited about getting a rare lead vocal on two songs for Wilson's upcoming pop album, "Right Time" and "Run James Run" -- the latter of which he calls a "2013 Beach Boys car song."
In fact, it's Jardine who often had the most interesting perspective in a five-man band which, for much of its glory years, consisted of three brothers (Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson) and their cousin (Mike Love). The outsider's view let him see his bandmates in a different sort of light.
"I didn't have a lot of brothers and cousins [in my own family], so it was quite a big leap for me," he says. "And watching these guys fuss and fight over the years could be pretty traumatic."
"At the same time, you can see how people can still work with each other after they fight, and that's important. To get beyond that and create great music. I like to think that I was the glue at some point who kept things together."
Jardine also credits the late Carl Wilson -- who he credits as being the band's "moral center" -- with keeping the various egos and personalities and frailties of his bandmates on an even keel.
"He had a great sense of fairness and the right and wrong beyond all the emotional stuff," he says. "He became a great leader for the band in the later years, even as a stage manager. He was a very astute guy."
Carl Wilson even had a catchphrase that would signal the end of any intense discussion or confrontation, no matter how heated it got.
"Carl's last line was always 'It is what it is,'" Jardine laughs. "When you heard that, you knew it was the end of the conversation!"
Interview continues on the next page.