God only knows how many puns Mike Love can conjure to describe his 60+ year reign fronting the Beach Boys, but wouldn’t it be nice to see him try?
Fresh off his morning transcendental meditation session and ready to travel to another stop on the tour, as the band’s annual 150-show blitz nears an end, Love talks animatedly about the music that made the Beach Boys as popular – and at one point, more popular – than the Beatles.
“The harmonies of our music just make you feel good – like a celebration of life,” says Love, who will perform at the Providence Performing Arts Center with the band on November 16.
Using “miraculous” to describe the longevity of the four-man band, which started as a fun time for Love and his cousins, Love says the Beach Boys continue to tour because people continue to enjoy their music. The night before, while playing in Spartanburg, SC, he looked out at the audience, to the second row where a group of women in their twenties danced and sang alongside others he calls “original fans.”
“I often see grandparents and grandchildren together at concerts,” Love notes.
The hook, he surmises, is how the band’s songs “always tend to accentuate the positive, even in difficult situations.” “Warmth of the Sun,” for example, tells of unrequited love but feeling euphoric in the sunshine. “In My Room” offers a place to retreat for dreaming, scheming or recovering from life. “You can always find something positive,” he says.
Like the Beatles, the Beach Boys exist in four-part harmony, delivering songs about surfing, fast cars, and the pretty girls the original members knew in their youth.
“There’s also a rock edge with songs like “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “I Get Around” that broaden the appeal through their up-tempo beat,” Love explains. “We always appealed to people who like hard rock but our harmonies set us apart.”
Love, half of the Beach Boys’ writing duo along with cousin Brian Wilson, continues to capture the joy he finds in life. His most recent album “Mike Love, Not War” has a familiar feel and seems appropriate amid a warring world.
After drawing on the influence of Little Richard, the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry, and currently a fan of Bruno Mars, Love urges newer musicians to strike a balance in their partnerships and learn the business.
“If you’re good at lyrics, find someone who’s better at the music. I was more into the lyrics and hooks and Brian is just brilliant at the harmonies and chord progression. Find people who complement you.”
Understanding the business side of the music industry is key to enjoying the results of your talent and labor, says Love, who, together with Wilson, struggled to get credit for the songs they wrote.
These days, two-hour Beach Boys performances roll through favorites from “Help Me Rhonda” to “Kokomo” as the band keeps the free-styling beach environment alive for audiences.
“Everybody’s having a good time,” Love says of the shows. “That includes us – we just love what we do!”
For more information on the upcoming PPAC show, go to ppacri.org.