Brian Wilson has just completed the first leg of his tour, and after a brief hiatus for Thanksgiving he, along with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, will hit the road again, beginning Saturday, November 28 in Reno, NV. It’s hard to recall the actual number of Brian Wilson shows actually attended over the years, but of all the performances, 2000’s ROXY concert is a highlight. Since that time, all the shows have memorable moments, particularly those Brian performed with the surviving Beach Boys on the 2012 reunion tour.
On this particular evening (November 19 at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC), I was positioned behind the mixing board (standing at the back of the house) the lights began to dim in the 90 year old building, and a couple in their mid-30s were arriving late…the female – leading the way (skipping with glee) – turned back to her male counterpart with youthful exuberance exclaiming, “He’s here!!” He was there, and when Brian took the stage he received a hero’s welcome.
All in all, Brian Wilson is a resource of love, suffering, joy…captured in his music. On the evening of November 19, Wilson – perched behind his piano – was steadfast and upbeat; surprising attendees with “Drive-In” and “Add Some Music To Your Day.”
Wilson was able to catch up over the phone the day after his Durham performance.
David Beard: Brian, your show in Durham was great, and your improvised lyrics on “Love And Mercy” (a lot of people getting shot)…was poignant. Why did you make that change?
Brian Wilson: When I watch the news, a lot of it has to do with shootings, so I changed it to, “shot,” but I’m going to change it back to the regular lyrics.
DB: Brian, what type of message would you like to send out to your fans in France?
BW: My condolences for the tragedy is what I send out to all of my fans in France.
DB: You always write quickly, what is the fastest you ever wrote a song? Which song was it?
BW: Well, “God Only Knows” took 45 minutes to write. My band – that I’ve been working with for 17 years, are all very attuned to me…it takes them 10 minutes to learn a whole song.
Wilson’s band are a collective of nuanced maestros…each with his own personal musical extension. Darian Sahanaja, back from his tour stint with the reunited Zombies, has been quietly steadying the ship for over 15 years; nurturing the Brian Wilson Presents Smile project, and recently casting the musician roles in the Wilson biopic, “Love & Mercy.” Of his experience on the No Pier Pressure tour he said, “Nearly 17 years of touring with Brian and nothing has come closer to an authentic Beach Boys vocal blend than having both Al and Matt Jardine in the mix. It elevates the spirits.” Sahanaja’s Wondermint counterpart Nick Walusko agrees, “I like the fact that we are fortunate enough to have Al Jardine (and Blondie Chaplin) to add vocal authenticity to our Brian Wilson band vocal blend… I think Brian really picks up on that.” Most of the venues on Wilson’s tour have been theatre. In Durham, where the stage was particularly small, bassist Bob Lizik said, “I like the smaller stages because we’re closer together, and the band plays tighter. We can feel each other’s playing better.”
DB: The tour has been receiving accolades, how do you feel knowing that for someone to meet you changes his or her life forever?
BW: I’m proud of myself because people want my love and my music. When I autograph something for a fan, or get a picture with them, I’m proud that it makes them feel good.
“Good, better, fortunate”; seems to be going around, because, according to Paul Von Mertens, “The theater shows we’ve been doing have been a pleasure because the places are small enough to be intimate, but we can still rock out; Brian is having fun and the band has never sounded better. Having Al and Blondie on board give us a depth and soulful vibe that is magical.”
Add “magical” to that list. If that isn’t enough to convince you, Probyn Gregory might just nudge you in the right direction, “The addition of Al and Blondie to the line-up brings historical credibility to our show, and the angelic falsetto of Matt Jardine just seals the deal… come and hear for yourself.” You can view Brian’s upcoming tour dates here.
DB: Brian, a few more questions. The Winter 2015 edition of Endless Summer Quarterly has a new exclusive interview with your collaborator Andy Paley. You amassed a lot of recording demos with Andy, have you considered revisiting any of them?
BW: I don’t know at this point. I may or may not…I don’t know.
DB: Do you remember that you and Andy co-wrote “Carl & Gina” for your brother Carl (Wilson), and that it was his and Gina’s first dance song in 1987?
BW: No kidding! Really?? I did? I can’t remember that. Oh my gosh…I didn’t know that. [Laughs]
DB: What do you remember about working on “Soul Searchin’” and “You’re Still A Mystery” with the Beach Boys at Ocean Way in 1995?
BW: It’s so long ago, I remember the guys all being there.
DB: Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds. You are scheduled to go on tour in Europe next year. Would you like to get together with Mike and do Pet Sounds in its entirety with him?
BW: I haven’t thought about that yet. I will be thinking about it, but I haven’t thought about it yet.
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