The ultimate summertime band, The Beach Boys, play at York Racecourse next week. James Nuttall spoke to founder member Mike Love.
The influence that The Beach Boys’ unique brand of sunny pop, combined with their sublime harmonies, has had on music is inescapable. Since their formation in 1961, artists ranging from the likes of Radiohead to Saint Etienne and Fleetwood Mac have commented on how their blend of songwriting abilities and musical craft have influenced their own work.
During the summer months, it is nearly impossible to avoid hearing one of their hits on the radio. Classics like Good Vibrations, Fun Fun Fun and I Get Around have become synonymous with summertime.
When not on tour as a group, the Beach Boys are still working in their own bands. This summer, founding member Mike Love, who co-wrote hit songs like California Girls and Do It Again, will be bringing the band to York Racecourse.
This will be Love’s first trip to the UK to gig since the Beach Boys’ 50th Anniversary Tour in 2012. Love says that he always enjoys touring the UK, and has fond memories of the last tour. “I think the highlight was the Royal Albert Hall. Wembley was great, too, but we did the Royal Albert Hall and I think we did a total of sixty songs, so that was pretty awesome. It was great to get together on behalf of the fans who really wanted to see us do something together.
“From that standpoint it was good, but Brian has his own band and his own way of doing things; so does Alan, and so do I. It was to be 50 dates for the 50 years, but I think it morphed into more like 70 plus to accommodate more foreign opportunities.” In a career spanning 53 years, the Beach Boys have released an impressive 29 studio albums, while also working on solo projects away from the band. Unsurprisingly, Love has a hard time trying to select a particular favourite song.
“There are a lot of favourites. I had a hand in co-writing with my cousin Brian several hit records. It’s hard for me to say one favourite, I think it has a lot to do with the mood you’re in, because if you’re in an upbeat mood and it’s a great day and you’re feeling good, you might want to hear Surfing USA, or I Get Around or Fun, Fun, Fun. If you’re in a little bit more of a reflective mood, you might want to listen to Wouldn’t it be Nice or Don’t Worry Baby. Probably, the most emotional is The Warmth of the Sun.”
The quintessential Beach Boys album has always been Pet Sounds. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the second greatest album of all time, while NME and The Times gave it first place.
Accolades are still being given to members of the band, both for their work in the group and outside, showing that The Beach Boys’ legacy lives on. “That’s a wonderful thing,” remarks Love. “One of the great things about the public appearances that we do is you see entire families turn out. I remember doing a show just last year very clearly where this little girl who was maybe nine years old, she’d made her own ‘I love the Beach Boys’ t-shirt and she was with her grandparents at the show, maybe in the third row. She was singing along to all kinds of songs of ours that were recorded in the Sixties when maybe her grandparents first saw us. I think with The Beatles and The Beach Boys, it was like a mutual admiration society. If they did Rubber Soul, we’d do Pet Sounds and they’d do Sergeant Pepper. One group would be doing its level best to come up with some great things, which inspired us to do as well as we possibly could. The residual effect of that was both groups had a tremendous bearing on musicians and just people who loved music at that time. The Sixties was such a rich time for music. It’s very hard to find a time in modern music that was as creative and expressive.”
So, what can concert goers expect to hear at York Racecourse?
“Our setlist varies a little bit according to where we are. If we’re outdoors in front of a huge crowd we keep it pretty much up-tempo for the most part. I have a philosophy that a lot of people come to see you based on what they know from you. We intersperse some of the big chart records and hits with stuff that’s a little more esoteric, perhaps. We never like to disappoint, so if there’s somebody that has a favourite song from a particular era or something, we like to do that.”
• The Beach Boys will be at York Racecourse on July 25.