Brian Wilson Interview
August, 2000

When I pulled my mail from the box and opened the package containing Brian Wilson’s new CD… hey, I admit that I’m as much a skeptic as the next guy, but the first thing I did was put that disc in a player before I even put down the envelope. And I must honestly admit that his first solo album was good, his second album was great, but this new “Live at the Roxy” CD just blew my head off! The album is edited in a way that gives you the feel that you’re there. The lights go down and the audience tries to stifle a cheer while a vintage tape is being played of Brian Wilson conducting the world famous L.A. Wrecking Crew through another take of “She’s Not The Little Girl I Once Knew” circa 1965.  After a few false starts, the lights go up on Brian Wilson and the band as they kick into a flawless version of the same song, and it ends with an excited roar from a very happy audience!

I recently got a chance to congratulate Brian personally
on the new album, and chat a bit about it.

S.E: Congratulations on an outstanding album!

B.W: Well thank you very much, it really turned out great.

S.E: I’ll admit that I’m a stickler when it comes to someone re-doing something that they’ve already done great.
B.W: Yeah?

S.E: But this is almost better because of just the overall sound, you get to hear stereo harmonies on songs that were never released in stereo before, plus most people can never get it to that place again, but on this CD it’s there!

B.W: Well that’s nice of you.

S.E: So, how was it recording at the Roxy like that?

B.W: It was really intimate, there was only about 450 people there, so it was very intimate, it was a lot of fun, the crowd was really on that night!

S.E: Do you like smaller intimate shows like that? Or do you prefer the big shows?

B.W: I prefer the medium shows, like three, or four thousand.

S.E: Are you a fan of other artists live albums?

B.W: Not really a lot, no, but you know, I just thought we’d try it. It wasn’t really my idea, it was my wife’s, and my manager’s idea to try the live album.

S.E: Really?

B.W:  I said, “Aw, I don’t think that it will sell very much” and they said “You wanna bet? You wanna bet? It will sell great!” And I said “C’mon” and they said, “Try it.” We tried it, and goddamn it worked!

S.E:  (Laughs) Did you hand pick the band yourself?

B.W: My wife and I did, yeah.

S.E: They played really well.

B.W: The Wonderments, and also there’s four, or five other guys too.

S.E:  It sounds like they really went out of their way to sound exactly like the original backing track on the Old Beach Boy’s songs. Who arranged the vocal harmonies?

B.W:  It was The Wonderments, and me both. They know my music backwards and forwards.

S.E: (Laughs)

B.W: So it didn’t take us long to get our act together.

S.E:  When I heard the new songs “The First time” and “This Isn’t Love”, it kind of made me think of a musical. Have you ever thought about putting together some sort of, not say a Broadway play, but maybe like a stage musical like they have nowadays?

B.W:  I don’t know, I’d like to think about that for awhile.  I’m not sure.

S.E: It sounds on the album like you were having a good time interacting with the audience.

B.W:  I know. I was telling jokes.

S.E: Was it good working with the crowd so close to you?

B.W: Oh yeah, it was really a lot of fun. I could see everybody, you know?  It waslike… it was a kick you know, it was in my hometown L.A….

S.E: And you did two nights there?

B.W. Yeah, I’m not sure which night we used, I think it was the Saturday night one. We did Friday night, and Saturday night… I think we chose the Saturday night one.

S.E. How did you go about selecting the songs for the show?

B.W. Oh, that was my wife’s, my manager’s, and my idea. We all came up with the repertoire.

S.E. Are you surprised at all of the positive reaction you get when you perform songs that were sort of shall we say… overlooked when they came out in the late 60’s, and early 70’s?

B.W: Yeah!

S.E: I mean, everybody knows those songs now.

B.W: I know.

S.E: On the new live album you covered a Phil Spector song…

B.W: Yeah “Be My Baby”. I love it!

S.E: It’s a great song.

B.W:  It’s a great record!

S.E: Yeah, have you ever written a song about him?

B.W: About Phil Spector? No.

S.E: So you’ve got this website goin’ now…

B.W: It’s doing very well. It’s doing very good.

S.E: Now are you a computer guy? Do you surf the web at all?

B.W: My wife, she does the computer thing, but I do the music thing.(Laughs)

S.E: What do you think about the fact that more artists today are staying away from the big record labels, and selling their own records on the web? Do you think that that’s the wave of the future?

B.W: It looks like it might be, you know?

S.E:  It kind of makes sense to me. Why make only one or two dollars from your CD when you can cut out the middleman and make ten?

B.W: (Laughing) Yeah right.

S.E. Was there any video made of either of the Roxy shows?

B.W: I don’t know. I’m not sure. I think that there was some video done yeah…. yeah, I think that my video people… I think that they shot some stuff there.

S.E:  Do you think they might put some stuff together for a video release in the shops?

B.W: I don’t know, I think they may want to televise it. Wouldn’t that be great?

S.E: Oh yeah!

B.W. I know! (Laughs)

S.E: Like on HBO or something like that?

B.W:  Yeah!

S.E: So what can we expect to see next from Brian Wilson?

B.W:  Well, a one-month tour of September and we’re going to have a 55-piece orchestra behind us on most of the shows…

S.E: Wow!

B.W: Isn’t that great?

S.E: Yeah!

B.W: Fifty-five pieces!

S.E: That’s a big stage.

B.W: I know!

S.E: Are you still doing the “Pet Sounds” tour?

B.W: That’s what we just did. See, we did… the whole month of July was “Pet Sounds”…

S.E: Oh, I see.

B.W: Plus some Beach Boy songs, and some Brian Wilson songs, but “Pet Sounds” was our featured thing, you know? It really turned out great. Everybody liked it. It was really great!

S.E: Will there be a CD of that tour also?

B.W: You mean like a live album?

S.E: Yeah.

B.W: No, I don’t think so.

S.E: Well I’ll let you go, and once again it’s a really great album!

B.W: Thank you very much.

S.E: And keep up the great work!

B.W: I sure will, and I appreciate the interview.
This CD shows that The Beatles COULD HAVE toured the “Sgt. Pepper” album! Especially when you hear Brian’s band go into songs like “Let’s Go Away For Awhile”, and “Pet Sounds”…. perfect renditions of both! They go all out to make sure that the tracks sound as close to the original as possible! If there’s a slap-back echo on a tambourine, it’s there! All of the guitar tones that made those records great… they’re there! You name it! Brian and the group are in great voice making sure that any vocal nuance you might miss, is all there intact! And for all fans of Brian’s solo work, for the first time anywhere, there are two new songs that Brian explains he found in a brief case, and had written some time before.
I don’t know what else to say except LISTEN!

This new ”Brian Wilson- Live At The Roxy” CD is only available on Brian’s new website.