The Beach Boys guitarist, vocalist and founding member Al Jardine really does get around.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will visit Interlochen Center for the Arts on July 23 with fellow Beach Boys veterans Brian Wilson and David Marks as part of a series of summer appearances by the trio across the country. The Ticker spoke with the legendary performer about returning to Kresge Auditorium, a new Brian Wilson solo album in the works (on which Jardine appears), and the controversial Beach Boys breakup in 2012 that led to two different lineups performing the band's music this summer.
The Ticker: The Beach Boys first appeared as a group at Interlochen in 2011. Why did you, Brian and David want to return here this summer as part of this series of solo gigs?
Al Jardine: I love it up there in Interlochen. I remember it as quite a beautiful area. The outdoor vibe of the venue is special and very harmonious with our music. We're known for our songs about summer, at least some of them, so it's a perfect fit. I also have (an attachment to) that area since I went to school in Big Rapids (at Ferris State University) in the 1960s. I left there and hitchhiked out to California to meet up with the band, actually. And, well, you know the rest.
The Ticker: After the 50th anniversary tour last year, Mike Love (who legally owns the name The Beach Boys) generated a significant amount of controversy when he announced he and Bruce Johnston would continue touring as The Beach Boys – without you, Brian or David. What was your reaction to that decision?
Al Jardine: We were just shocked. After all the momentum we created, that he would want to continue on alone – we didn't understand it. We had a second single (from 2012's “That's Why God Made the Radio”) and a DVD and a follow-up album ready to go. I can understand wanting to tour with your own people, but this was our legacy as a band. To be short-sighted enough to abandon that to do your own thing – it's a shame.
However, Brian and I decided that, heck – we're the heart and soul of this thing anyway, we're going to continue to perform the legacy. We have the voices, we have the creative material, and we have a wonderful backing band that Brian has been using for years. You know – we ought to do a contest between the two lineups. (laughs). It could be fun for fans. It would be illuminating.
The Ticker: Are the dual lineups creating confusion among fans? Do you think it's possible The Beach Boys will reunite at some point?
Al Jardine: Oh, it's very confusing for fans. Some of the photos from our 50th anniversary tour have been used to promote the new Beach Boys shows, which makes it even more confusing. Brian and I don't want to mislead fans, since we're not going to be at those shows. But look – The Beach Boys is just a name. The music is what's important, not the messenger. If Mike wants to come back, it'd be wonderful and we'd love to have him. But I don't think at this point it looks like it's going to happen.
The Ticker: Brian has announced he's working on a new solo album featuring you and Jeff Beck, among other musicians. What's the status of that project?
Al Jardine: We're in the midst of it right now. I just spoke to Brian last night and he said it's coming along. I'll be coming back soon to do some vocals. We might even have a car song on there, if you can believe it – the last one we'll ever do. I'd like to do a song about an electric car myself, but that might be a harder sell. (laughs)
The Ticker: You also released your own first solo album recently (“A Postcard from California,” in 2010). What was the inspiration behind that project?
Al Jardine: The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson were my inspiration. I enlisted their support on “Don't Fight the Sea,” which is the cornerstone track of the project. The band wasn't recording at the time, and I missed those harmonies and wanted to put a thematic piece together that describes my lifestyle here on the California coast. We had a lot of fun making that.
The Ticker: What's coming down the pipeline for you as a solo artist? For the group?
Al Jardine: I've done some covers of some iconic songs, like “Give Peace a Chance” and “If I Had a Hammer,” for Bono's ONE foundation. I'd like to do more music like that while I still have a voice. If I could get enough material along those lines, I would do another (solo album) in a heartbeat.
As for the guys – if these summer dates go well, we'll likely do another tour to support Brian's new album. I'm bound to secrecy on the details of that right now, because we're not sure when the album will be finished and we haven't lined up all the theaters. But you can expect an announcement on that to come very soon.
Al Jardine, Brian Wilson and David Marks will appear at Interlochen Center for the Arts on July 23 with special guests Wilson Phillips. For tickets and more information, call 231-276-7800 or visit www.interlochen.org.