When the Lower East Side Film Festival starts Thursday, Mike Love of the Beach Boys will be one of six judges. Love, who co-wrote and sang lead vocals on hits like “California Girls,” “I Get Around,” and “Fun, Fun, Fun,” tells us he’s watched over a dozen films in preparation for the 10-day fest, but one film he says he hasn’t yet had a chance to see is Love & Mercy, the newly released biopic about his cousin and former bandmate Brian Wilson. Still, when we spoke to him Monday, Love addressed some of the band drama (or lack thereof?) depicted in the film. And before he raced off to create “excitations” in his audience (50 years later, the Beach Boys continue to spread good vibes on tour, with Love as MC), he also filled us in on a book that will tell his own story.
Do you have some favorite mainstream films, especially soundtracks?
This sounds self-serving, but you know the movie It’s Complicated? It’s sweet, it’s cute, it’s wonderfully acted. But guess what? They play “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” from our Pet Sounds album in the film. I was caught by surprise because I didn’t know “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was going to be in It’s Complicated. I was sitting in the movie theater and here comes our song. So I was amazed and delighted and thrilled that people are still using our songs in movie soundtracks. And before that it was 50 First Dates, with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. So that’s a very evasive way to answer your question, or not answer it. You could even say it’s a “fun, fun, fun” way to answer. [Laughs]
How is performing in 2015 different than when you first started performing in the ’60s?
It was tremendously exciting in the ’60s, but the technology — the production value of the sound, and the lights and the staging – was nowhere near as good as it is today because rock ‘n roll was so young when we started. Prior to us it was Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and the Everly Brothers. Then the Beach Boys, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and then, like I like to say, all hell broke loose with rock because it became such a hugely popular type of music. There was a tremendous investment in all things necessary to carry it off. I remember some early concerts where we just we had maybe two microphones and the sound system was designed to call out a boxing match or a wrestling match or something like that. What was exciting in the early days with the newness of rock ‘n roll was the excitement and the enthusiasm of the audience — everybody was a teenager or young adult and into the music. Now, those teenagers are in their 60s or 70s and they still come out to our shows.
Do you plan on turning your new book into a film?
Well, I’m not doing it to make it into film. But being in India with Maharishi, meeting Marlon Brando, being friends with so many people in the music industry and some of the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, it makes for quite a story. So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were to become a film. However, in the meantime I’m hoping to come up with a documentary that really shows my point of view. I think that that’s plenty to do in the next six months to a year.
Have you seen Love and Mercy? What do you think about it, as both a film and as a portrayal of your bandmate?
You know, I can’t really comment on that because I have not seen it. But there are all kinds of threads and blogs that have sprung up about it and I’ve read a few. I’m waiting to weigh in myself until I’m able to see the movie. But all I can say is poor Brian, he’s had a rough, rough time. And I feel very compassionate about that because he is my first cousin and we were childhood buddies and friends and musical collaborators. To see him experience those challenges that were admittedly brought on by his experience with certain drugs and stuff, it’s just kind of saddening to me.
I read that the creation of Pet Sounds was the focus for many important scenes in the film. I also read that “It’s fascinating to watch Wilson bicker with Mike Love (Jake Abel) and his father (Bill Camp) over whether or not he’s gone too far astray from the peppy ‘surfer sounds’ of their early work.”
See, there have been things said by people that I said, which I didn’t say, or pictured me as being anti Pet Sounds, which is not true. I actually named the album Pet Sounds and I collaborated on it, spending many hours on it along with the rest of the guys. And I actually presented the album. I went with Brian to Capitol Records to present the album, so that doesn’t sound like a person who is against the album. But there’s some myth that’s been perpetrated by some people.
That’s the kind of thing that, if I do see the movie, I’ll be able to comment on if it was portrayed accurately or if it stands up to the standards of truth. I’m at a disadvantage to comment because I haven’t seen it. But I do know what I did do and what I didn’t do. I was never against the Pet Sounds album, nor was I against “Good Vibrations.” That is insane because I came up with all of the lyrics and the hook to go with the brilliant track that my cousin Brian did. I’ve heard that there’s something in the film about me disagreeing about “Good Vibrations,” which is absolutely nonsense and didn’t happen. Maybe it makes for dramatic something or other in the film, but certainly that part wasn’t true. But I’m anxious to see it to see what the whole story is.
I also read that Dr. Landy is portrayed as a pretty villainous character. Do you have a comment on that portrayal?
The interesting thing to read is on Evan Landy. He is Landy’s son and spent years with Brian in a very intimate way. He has a whole different perspective of Landy and his motivation. Was he [Dr. Landy] overreaching? Probably. Did he cost a lot of money? Hell yeah. Did he want to be producer and the writer and stuff with Brian? Yes, he did. Did he go beyond the bounds of therapy? Probably. But, guess what? He also saved his life. So to read Evan Landy’s dissertation on it is very, very interesting because you get an intimate look at someone who was with Brian everyday for a few years. So it’s a whole different story that came out on Love and Mercy.
Are there any new developments your fans would like to know about?
There are several things going on. First of all is our song “California Girls” and our song “Help Me Rhonda” — they came out on an album called Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) 50 years ago. So we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of those songs. Next year we’ll be celebrating 50 years of “Good Vibrations” and we’ll be coming out with a book — an autobiography that I want to call Good Vibrations. We have all kinds of plans: a new book, a tour titled “50 Years of Good Vibrations,” re-records of songs (hopefully with other artists) that we’re contemplating, and I’ve stockpiled a bunch of recordings myself that I hope to come out with probably next year. We have a lot of bullets left in our chamber.