It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m headed upstairs at TBX to get ready for an interview with musical genius, Brian Wilson, the songwriter and producer of America’s favourite band: The Beach Boys.
Brian’s people are calling me sometime between 3:15 and 3:30, so I decide to crank down two cans of Kokanee to calm my nerves. This is my first interview, and it’s a big one, so two brews are needed.
I fire down a huge swig and start reading over my questions. I want this to go smoothly. I'm hoping to gain the answers I couldn’t find in the countless books and documentaries I have studied about the man and his band.
Eight minutes early, I get a call from Pennsylvania, and the Kokanees aren't in me yet. Jerry Weisse, one of Brian's people is on the other end and he apologizes for being early.
Then I hear his voice. It's Brian Wilson. With the first question, I keep it light and ask him about the tour’s set-list and what we can expect. "We'll be playing an hour of Beach Boys classics," he tells me, "and finishing the night with Pet Sounds front to back."
Brian has released over 30 albums since 1966 and I ask him if it's constantly on his mind to produce something as influential and groundbreaking as Pet Sounds, to which he replies, "Every time I make an album, I try to make it better than the one that came before."
We dive into his thoughts on how Pet Sounds has helped many people get through difficult times in their lives. He tells me this is something he is proud of. "That makes me happy. That's why I made that album, so we can help people out."
For Pet Sounds, Brian hired writer, poet, and friend Tony Asher to write all the lyrics to the album. I asked him what made him choose to partner with Asher, and again, Brian being a man of few words, offers a simple response, "When I was talking with him one day, I asked him if he could help me write some lyrics, and he said 'sure'. So he came over to my house and we wrote ‘God Only Knows.’"
While on the topic, I mention Paul McCartney's statement that ‘God Only Knows’ was "the most beautiful song ever written" and if there would ever a chance of the two collaborating to re-record that tune with Paul on the lead vocals. Brian had no interest in that, and it wasn't the only suggestion he shot down in our seven minute interview.
I bring up the fact that many artists describe their career-defining album as their "Pet Sounds." I wanted to know if he thought Pet Sounds was his "Pet Sounds." In other words, does he think this was his best album? His answer was surprising. tells me that the 1977 release, The Beach Boys Love You was his best work; an obscure an overlooked album with no hits, which was written and recorded during a period of mental instability for Brian.
It came time to ask Brian about Mike Love: the Beach Boys’ singer, occasional lyricist, notorious asshole, and Brian’s older cousin.
"I think that he is going to keep the Beach Boys name alive. Keep it happening."
In 1998 , Mike Love brought the Boys to court because he wanted sole ownership of the Beach Boys name and brand. He won that battle, no other remaining Beach Boy could use this name without his permission, including Brian himself. I ask him what his relationship with Mike Love is today, and he tells me that they "hadn't talked in four years since the 2012 50th anniversary tour."
We talk about his thoughts on Mike Love taking a name that he had such a huge part in building. This was the most surprising answer of the interview and one that shuts down my next three questions. He tells me he thinks of it as a positive thing and that, "I think that he is going to keep the Beach Boys name alive. Keep it happening." I hold my tongue. I wasn't about to argue with Brian.
I thanked him for his time, told him I was from Windsor Ontario representing The Windsor Independent. We said our goodbyes and he offers his last words to me: "I'll see you at the show."
Yes you will Brian.
Brian Wilson plays Pet Sounds on the 50th Anniversary Tour Sept 30th at The Fox Theatre.