When the Beach Boys revolutionized pop: the interview

When the Beach Boys revolutionized pop: the interview

The Beach Boys originally didn't have much to do with surfing, even if their popular image as the “American band” par excellence is linked to that imagery and to songs like “Surfin' safari”.

But their story is that of a band that changed the rules of pop – with all the attendant dramas of a big family. Even more: fights, premature deaths, illnesses, reunions, new fights – and lots of great music. A story tells of a documentary simply titled “The Beach Boys”, released on Disney+ on May 24, with the production of Frank Marshall and the direction of Thom Zimny ​​(historical collaborator of Bruce Springsteen, but also author of films about Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley): The documentary includes interviews with – among others – Lindsey Buckingham, Janelle Monae, Ryan Tedder and Don Was, as well as testimonies from Carl and Dennis Wilson, who passed away in 1998 and 1983 respectively, and many previously unreleased materials.

The reunion for the documentary

Of the original Beach Boys, what remains above all is Mike Love who carries the official brand around, while Al Jardine – also a founding member – has his own band, “Endless summer”. The only survivor of the three Wilson brothers, Brian, is in precarious health. But for the documentary the three met in Paradise Cove, where the cover of the first album was created: the final images show the five (there are also David Marks and Bruce Johnston, other historical members of the group from the '60s) on the beach: “And it was surprising that Brian remembered some things from our childhood when we went out together,” recalls Mike Love, via zoom from California, wearing the usual bright shirt. “We sang a little, Al played guitar, we sang some a cappella. In a way it was a totally joyful reunion.”

The documentary tells the first part of the band's 60-year history, the classic phase, until the death of Dennis Wilson (in the early '80s), while Carl Wilson died in '98. There is no mention of the 2012 reunion – which took them around the world but ended in a row: “The joy has always been there, there have been separations, of course. But when we come together, we come together through harmony and positivity and there is a basis of love and respect for each other's particular individualities.”

Brian Wilson and the pop revolution

“The Beach Boys changed the idea of ​​what a song could be and sound like,” explains Zimny, who says he has always followed the band from the East Coast, where he is from. “I tried to tell both the group and the individual members, what made them tick and what made their music universal,” she explains.

The great present/absent is obviously Brian Wilson, the genius with a tormented life and mental health, who stopped playing to dedicate himself to the recording studio.

“The Beach Boys were obsessed with harmonies – it was all in Brian's head,” says Love. “Every time we started a song, Brian would put his right hand on the piano, sing the melody and we'd come in,” he says of the sound that changed the pop, the mixture of voices like an orchestra and the complexity of writing that led to their masterpiece “Pet sounds” which challenged the Beatles, but also Wilson himself, who failed to complete the successor “Smile” (Here's the story. “When I watch the movie, I feel a little sad because Dennis is gone, Carl is gone, and Brian has had his tough moments,” Love explains.

Universal pop

“There's a bit of sadness and melancholy, but there's a lot, a lot of love for the work we did together and for the music that brought us together, even despite individual differences at times. And nowadays , I think, there is a lot of negativity in the atmosphere and in the world. There is a lot of negativity, but the music brings positivity, harmony, love and hope”, he says indirectly, responding to the criticism made of the band, that of being too light. and to promote a model of America distant from a more complex reality.

“Our music will last forever, our music has a solid foundation. Today you can learn quickly and universally through social media. As a kid, I felt disconnected from what surrounded me,” explains Al Jardine, saying that for him the Beach Boys are “8 to 80”, for children and adults. “Pop is universal.”