The Beach Boys open up about working with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, their summer tour and plans for new material...
Few bands have a sound and a style that's as instantly recognisable as the sunny, irresistible pop of The Beach Boys, but today you can hear all those tracks in a brand new light.
17 of the band's all-time classics, including 'Fun, Fun, Fun', 'California Girls', 'Good Vibrations' and 'God Only Knows', have been given a brand new spin with the help of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who have recorded new arrangements and added more flourish to these iconic tracks.
The Royal Philharmonic recorded their new arrangements at Abbey Road Studios. Steve Sidwell and Sally Herbert conducted the orchestra and wrote several of the arrangements.
This Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have been in a rich vein of form recently, their work with Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Aretha Franklin has delivered big sales, with their team-up with Elvis delivering three bestselling albums. Their 2015 collaboration If I Can Dream proved particularly fruitful, it wound up selling over 1.1 million copies and kept both Little Mix and Ellie Goulding from hitting Number One.
To explain how the Beach Boys came to allow the Royal Philharmonic to rearrange their treasured tracks and what it's like hearing songs you know so well in a whole new light, we spoke to The Beach Boys themselves, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston...
How did the idea to work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra come about?
Mike: "The idea for this album, I first heard about it from Jerry Schilling, who’s part of our management. That was a result of his being involved with the Elvis estate and getting two very successful albums done by Elvis symphonically."
You’ve been performing these songs for over 50 years now, was it strange to hear them reimagined in such a new way?
Brian Wilson: "It was great to hear them in this way, they did such a good job. When I originally wrote these songs and vocal arrangements back in the 1960s, I knew they would lend themselves perfectly for a symphony."
"Each time I listen to it I, I hear something different. I got to hear The Beach Boys vocals embellished by an orchestra, which I never heard before. The fullness comes from the orchestra. Not just the strings, but the horns and all the orchestra put together."
Al: "It blew me away. I thought: well, it worked. You know if it’s good, it’ll either grab you or it won’t. And this whole album just grabs you and you feel like hey, this is new all over again."
Bruce: "I think it’s very difficult to add the orchestra. If you go back to Days of Future Past with the Moody Blues they built it ground up with the orchestra. But it’s harder to just add the orchestra because you have to be so sensitive to all the nuances that Brian put in there musically the first time around. That’s difficult to do but they did it. It sounds wonderful."
Which of the new recordings is your favourite?
Mike: "'Don’t Worry Baby' is Brian Wilson, his vocal was amazing on that. And I did a little background part. It was beautiful. I loved that song. It’s a beautiful song. We do it every night in concert. That's one of my favourites on this album."
Brian: "For me, it's 'California Girls'. They've got fantastic sound in the intro. They've added fantastic sound against our 12-string guitar."
Bruce Johnston: "'Wouldn’t It Be Nice' is fantastic. The bridge goes completely another direction for subtlety and then Brian gets back and is rocking his voice out. He just sang it. It just kills me it’s so good and I just love the performance and I love the song. And I love hearing the Royal Philharmonic play with us."
Are there any plans to bring the orchestra and the band together in a live capacity?
Al: "I guess it might be possible. The Beach Boys With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Why not come to think of it? They could play live. We could sing live. At least we can go over to England and do it, right? Do it at Royal Albert Hall. And it would be a heck of an experience, wouldn’t it?"
You’re all on tour this summer, what can fans expect from the shows?
Mike: "The greatest thing about it is the audience response and the effect our music has on people in terms of generating such happiness and positivity. We’ve seen grandparents with their grandchildren and everybody in between having a great time."
"'Fun, Fun, Fun' ends every concert. We’ve been doing that since we did it in 1960-whatever it was. It’s so much fun. There’s no better way to end it than sending people away thinking 'Fun, Fun, Fun'."
Brian: "Fans can expect some great harmonies. The British audiences are my favourite audiences. The British people like music, they’re sensitive to it. I love our music. I love my band members. I love singing. I refuse to retire."
Finally, there has been some talk of new material in recent years, are plans to record new music any firmer?
Brian: "I do plan to record a rock and roll album. That has been in the works for a while, but touring has kept me out of the studio. Hopefully, I can get back in soon."