Exclusive: Mike Love 'Looking Forward' to Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour

'We're using most of Brian Wilson's band,' says Love

mike love
Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images
Mike Love of the Beach Boys performs in Madrid.
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Though Mike Love has never stopped touring under the Beach Boys name, fans will finally get the chance to see the band's original surviving members play once again on their upcoming 50th anniversary blowout, kicking off in April at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Rolling Stone caught up with Love about the milestone, the band's upcoming album of new material and how everybody is getting along. "What a phenomenal legacy to celebrate," says Love. "Music has been the harmonizing element in our family since childhood. It's great to come full circle and ponder that and celebrate that. We're very fortunate to 'Do It Again,' so to speak."

This news is pretty exciting for your fans.
Well, if you think about it, it's 50 years of "Fun, Fun, Fun."

Has it been all "Fun, Fun, Fun"?
Of course not. But I think the story of the Beach Boys is told in the music and the legacy to the world, not all the yellow journalism. I think the overwhelming story is the impact, the legacy of the music. It's really cool that we can all get together this time and celebrate along with anyone else who wants to celebrate with us.

How did the band approach putting the tour together?
We figured it makes sense to do it during the summer. Our [2003 compilation] album the Sounds of Summer is fast approaching selling three million copies – if it's triple-platinum, which is, you know, pretty good. And by the time this 50th celebration is over, it'll probably be more than triple-platinum.

Who had the idea for the 50th anniversary tour first? Who reached out to who?
Everybody reached out. I'm looking forward to getting together with Brian, writing something together again. His musical nature is so phenomenal. Even doing the background vocals we did in the studio recently, he was just sitting at the piano and stretching those chords the way he does spontaneously. It's just amazing.

It's thrilling because that's what we're so used to hearing from him back in the day when we were very productive, putting out an album every few months. It hasn't gone away. It's just nature. And my nature is the way it is, conceptually and lyrically. Some people are denizens of the studio. I'm more of a denizen of the live appearance. I love the live thing. I love the spontaneity and the recreating of those songs.

Is this just a one-off get-together for this tour? Or are the Beach Boys back together?
We're just approaching it a day at a time, one tour at a time. We're going to do some European stuff, it looks like. Right now, it's just offers. Other than three dates in Japan in August, that's confirmed. Everything else is subject to offers and negotiations.

You're going to play Jazz Fest, that's the first one. Will you guys play consecutively after that? Will you head out on the road?
The idea is to do four or five shows a week for the weeks up until the weeks we're intending to go to Europe. I wish I could say more definitively exactly what we're going to do.

I assume the band will be playing outdoor amphitheaters in the U.S.?
I'm hoping that we'll do places associated with summer. We're open to doing whatever makes sense, whoever wants us.

What will the backing band look like?
Brian Wilson has an incredible band. We're using most of his band. And we've got [current Beach Boys touring] drummer John Cowsill and our guitarist, Scott Totten. We're kind of blending things together.  I think, musically, it's going to be incredible.

How will these shows differ from your Beach Boys shows? What do you think the set list will be like?
From what I understand, from a few of the promoters and venues that want us, they want to hear a lot of hits. But I think stuff from the Pet Sounds album and Smile will undoubtedly be included. It will be a comprehensive thing. We're going to try and be as inclusive of all the eras of the Beach Boys music as representatives of our catalogues because I know there are some people that are into one phase or another of our career, so we'll try to do what we can to incorporate everybody's wish list. That would be tough to do unless we did a week at Carnegie Hall. We've got hundreds of songs.

How's the album coming so far?
We have not done much on that. There have been some songs written and we have recorded on a few things, just a handful of things. The next couple months are going to be, that's going to be our to-do list. There's a lot of creativity coming from myself, coming from Brian. David Marks has a title I really like, so I'm going to work with him on that.

It's amazing David Marks is going to be there.
Yeah! David rocks. A phenomenal guitarist. When he does those leads on "Surfin'," "Surfin' Safari" and "Fun, Fun, Fun," it's so authentic. He and Carl committed on playing guitar since they were 10 years old and we neighbors with each other from across the street in Hawthorne. He's a fantastic musician and a really fantastic guy to be with. He went through his issues with alcohol, but he's completely cooled out for maybe 10 years now. It's going to be really great to be with him.

How is everybody getting along now?
I think great. A lot of the ups and downs were as the result of other people's incursions, I would say, whether it be a Murry Wilson or a Dr. Landy, you know. Everybody's getting along great.

Is Brian excited?
I don't know. Have you talked to him?

Not lately. Maybe it was a bad day, but I talked to him a couple months back and he didn't seem that keen on the idea of the tour.
I heard about that. Brian will say, one day, "I really miss Mike." And then the next day he'll say, "All right, I don't want to do anything with those guys." He has his moods, no doubt about it. But I think he's really looking forward to getting in the studio with the voices that he hears in his head when he does the harmony on the keyboard.

Do you know when the album might come out?
I really don't. We'll have to do it first.

Sometime in the next year?
Oh, hell yeah.