It will definitely feel like summer at the Baton Rouge River Center tonight as one of rock music’s most legendary acts, The Beach Boys, are coming to the Red Stick for a one-night-only concert.
Led by members Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, The Beach Boys perform an average of 150 shows per year. The group is completed by Jeffrey Foskett, guitar; Brian Eichenburger, bass; Tim Bonhomme, keyboards; John Cowsill, percussion; and Scott Totten, guitar.
For more than 50 years, The Beach Boys’ music has spanned numerous generations and defined an era of music that will never be remade. The group is known for hit songs such as “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” “Kokomo,” “I Get Around,” “Help Me Rhonda, “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations,” among others. Over the course of the group’s career, The Beach Boys have released 82 singles, 29 albums and seven live albums, including its most recent release in December 2015, “Live in Chicago 1965.” The Beach Boys most recent studio album, “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” was released in June 2012 and peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart.
Love sat down with DIG Magazine and spoke with us about the current tour, the band’s status as music legends and how he still “gets around.”
DIG: How is the tour currently going for you?
Love: Really well. Actually, last year we did 175 performances in 170 different locations. So we’re very busy. We did Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Germany, we did England earlier in the year…so we’ve had a great year just recently. We were in Germany for a lifetime achievement award at a show called the Golden Camera. It’s like the Golden Globes for us. We’ve had some really remarkable things happen with personal appearances, and that award show in Germany was great. We’ve just had tremendous support worldwide. We’re headed to Hong Kong next month; then we’re doing Korea for the first time and then we’re going to Japan…We’ve got a lot going on.
DIG: It seems like you’re on a never-ending tour. Audiences just love the show, and they can’t get enough.
Love: Well, you know, it’s remarkable, particularly if you go to places like Japan or Germany where English is anything but their first language. What we’re singing, they can’t possibly understand what we’re singing about literally, but they love the sound, they love the beat, they love the melodies, the harmonies so we’ve been very successful in a lot of foreign countries. We’re America’s band to a lot of people in the world. And of course, back home in the U.S. it’s wonderful because we still get great crowds to come out and see us. It’s amazing because our first record came out in 1961 and here we are 55 years later still in demand to do shows all over the place from various generations. Entire families can come out and enjoy the Beach Boys, which is a fantastic thing.
DIG: Three generations of fans is amazing.
Love: Not everybody can claim that. With us, we find people put on a CD for a long drive, and everybody seems to coexist with it.
DIG: Can you reflect on how recording music has changed from when you first started to today?
Love: It was quite a bit different back in the early to mid-’60s. You had first a two-track recording, and then we went to four-track, and then eight-track, then 12 and 16. Now it’s infinite because of computers. But what that made you do is focus on exactly how you wanted those vocals done or exactly what kind of instrumentation you were going to have because you only had a few tracks that you could fill up. It was quite a process, but there was a lot more discipline involved and a lot more spontaneity. Nowadays you could take days to do a part whether it be an instrumental or a vocal part, and you could have 100 different channels that you would ultimately have to mix down. And of course, back then you had record companies and radio stations and that was it. That was how you got your music promoted and known. Nowadays you can go online and create a fan base worldwide just through the Internet. So technology is expanding the potential, and it can accommodate any kind of musical taste. There’s so much diversity in music these days. Used to be that Top 40 radio controlled just about anything you heard unless it was country or R&B stations, but for pop music Top 40 was it, but now people can catch on through the Internet, and the record companies aren’t in much demand as they used to be.
DIG: How do you decide which songs to play from the Beach Boys’ back catalog?
Love: That is something that I’ve been intimately involved with my entire career of the Beach Boys. What I like to do is start off kind of retro and tempo, meaning surfing songs, and then after doing half a dozen of those, we’ll go to the ballads, maybe “Surfer Girl,” and then we branch off into other types of songs. We’ll do the hits, but in addition to those we’ll do some of the songs we really love to perform. But it also depends on the venue. If the venue sound is good, we’ll do more of the artistic kind of things. Maybe they’re not so well known, but the hardcore fans would recognize them and like them a lot. We always like to please everybody: the hardcore fans and the casual concert goer. Our mission is to do the songs as beautifully as we possibly can and have everybody go away home happy and satisfied that they got a good experience with the show. It’s pretty comprehensive.
DIG: How do you keep the hits fresh for yourself?
Love: Well, the thing is about the harmonies is they’re complicated. You cannot be on automatic pilot, you can’t be distracted, you have to pay attention and make sure everyone’s attention is focused on replicating those harmonies and replicating those songs as close as humanly possible to the recordings. So it keeps your mind engaged. It’s not like you’re going to be able to do it casually, it takes focus. It takes dedication, and we’re obsessed with recreating those songs as close as humanly to the recordings. And we get a lot of great feedback, people say the band sounds better than it ever has.
DIG: You announced your autobiography (“Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy”) in late 2014. Is it still on track for a 2016 release?
Love: It’s coming out around in September. A lot of people are anticipating it, and it’s the first time I’ve ever put things in perspective from my point of view. There have been other books written about the Beach Boys and stuff, but never by me, in other words, a person who was actually there.
DIG: Are there any potential opportunities for you to appear on Fuller House?
Love: I talked to the producer Jeff Franklin, who came up with Full House originally and in fact sometimes I stay at his home in Beverly Hills when I’m in the area, and we spoke of it, but it just hasn’t happened yet. I would love do it; I think it would be fun.
Tickets are $55 to $75 and on sale now at all TicketMaster outlets, including the Baton Rouge River Center box office or online at www.ticketmaster.com.