Both the crowd on the Esplanade and the folks watching at home on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) should be picking up good vibrations when the Beach Boys team up with the Boston Pops for the annual Fourth of July concert and fireworks spectacular, which was rescheduled for Thursday because of inclement weather expected on Friday.
The legendary California rock band, synonymous with the sound of summer thanks to an epic list of hits like “I Get Around,” “Help Me, Rhonda,” and “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” often play on the holiday. Lead singer and founding member Mike Love recalls many memorable Fourths, including a massive free show on the Mall in Washington in 1985. “We stepped out on stage and we got a standing ovation before we did anything. That’s when you know your fame precedes you,” he says with a laugh, adding, “I think they were in a happy mood because the price was right.”
Prior to the concert’s rescheduling, we chatted by phone from Sweden with Love and via e-mail with newest “official” member Jeff Foskett, who has played on and off with the band for more than 30 years, about the enduring sound of the Beach Boys, who will be back in the area, playing Indian Ranch on Aug. 17. (Both on Thursday and at Indian Ranch, this is the touring lineup, which does not include Brian Wilson.)
On playing with the Boston Pops:
FOSKETT: How can one live in the US and not be familiar with the Fourth of July broadcasts featuring the Boston Pops? I remember listening, and watching the fireworks, when Maestro Fiedler and Maestro Williams were conducting the orchestra. This is a huge honor to be asked to perform with the Boston Pops on the Fourth of July. All of the guys are super excited about this opportunity.
LOVE: The Beach Boys have always been associated with summer, and ever since we did some concerts on the Mall in Washington D.C., we’ve been associated with the Fourth of July. But this is really putting another feather in our cap here. I’ve always wanted to do something with the Boston Pops, and we finally got the call only after 52 short years. (Laughs.)
On Foskett becoming an official member of the band:
FOSKETT: It’s great to be back in America’s most well-known — and loved — band. I sang at the Society of Singers Awards Presentation where Michael [Love] was honored with “The ELLA” Award in February. We had lunch and did a few things socially after that. Things matriculated from there and he asked me what I had on my upcoming schedule. I had a previous commitment with the band America but when that ended, I joined the Beach Boys, again!
LOVE: He was with us many years before, in 1981. And then he wasn’t. And then he was with Cousin Brian [Wilson’s band] as musical director and supported Brian, which is great. My son Christian has been traveling with us, and he sounds remarkably similar to Carl Wilson on “God Only Knows,” “Kokomo,” and “Good Vibrations.” It’s great having him there, but he has his own band and loves competing in beach volleyball, believe it or not. But his departure gave an opening, and Jeff is eminently qualified. And he’s a great singer and a fun guy to have around.
On keeping the songs fresh:
LOVE: It’s the audience response and the spontaneity of the event. You know, there’s that old saying, “Be Here Now.” With our music, it’s just complicated enough with the harmonies and melodies and synchronizing your efforts with the instrumentationand you put those things together with the audience participation or appreciation. . . [it] really helps re-create [the songs]. It’s not a replication, it’s a re-creation.
FOSKETT: One key to keeping the songs fresh is to review them from time to time with the guys and make sure everyone is singing and playing their correct part. We have a great musical director, Scott Totten. I thought that I studied this music closely but on some songs, Scotty makes me look like a novice. We rehearse every show day, even if it’s something simple like going over a chorus or verse of a song that everyone has performed 1,000 times. It’s important to the song, the band’s legacy, and for the audience to hear them played correctly. I have always believed that as we are performing the songs, the audience is remembering the first time they heard them on record or on the radio. That’s what keeps it fresh for me, to be a part of the enjoyment that this great music has brought to so many people for over half a century!
On whether they’re still actually having, fun, fun, fun:
FOSKETT: I am honestly having more fun than I have had in years. Someone asked me recently what was the best tour I had ever been a part of and I replied, “The Beach Boys 50, hands down.” That tour was a ton of fun but I have to say, the time that I have been back in the Beach Boys this year rivals that. I dreamed of doing this since my brother brought home the “I Get Around”/“Don’t Worry Baby” 45 in 1964. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I am honored to be a part of such a great American institution in the Beach Boys. All I ever wanted to do was meet them. . . 35 years later, it’s great to still be a part of them.
LOVE: I do. I have fun, fun, fun every night because when I see the audience respond to our music that I had a hand in creating with my cousin Brian, and to see after decades of doing that the songs are still appreciated and loved by people all over the world. . . it’s amazing, it’s miraculous actually.
Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clarification: The Fourth of July will come on the Third this year in Boston. The annual Boston Pops concert and fireworks extravaganza on the Esplanade in Boston will be held Thursday instead of Friday because of the possibility of bad weather from Tropical Storm Arthur, a law enforcement official briefed on the planning said Wednesday.