June 1993 Interview with Mike

This interview originally appeard in the August, 1995 issue of MOJO Magazine. There is an interview with Bruce Johnston answering the same questions, but that is not reproduced here.This issue also contains the "100 Greatest Albums Ever Made". "Pet Sounds" tops the list. The entire list is available in the writings section of this page.

Mike Love only agreed to be interviewed for this feature if Bill Holdship signed a declaration that he'd write nothing "negative" about Love. Holdship refused, saying it was his right to form any opinion he wished once he'd conducted the interview. So, to give us some idea of both sides of this convoluted California saga, here is an interview conducted in June 1993, a week before the court case between Mike Love and Brian Wilson was due to begin. Love was interviewed in the splendour of the Pacific Palisa des health club overlooking the beach.

MIKE LOVE: Listen, I didn't really want to sue Brian at all because I knew he was sick and I've been very understanding because of that. The facts are that I wrote words to 79 songs for which I didn't receive a credit let alone royalties. Just one example , "Good Vibrations", the song that people associate with the Beach Boys more than any other. When Brian played his finished version to us we were all knocked out. It was incredible! It was like nothing anyone had ever heard before. I said, Brian this is r eally cool but it's a bit weird, don't you think it'll alienate our fans? Let's give people something they can hold onto while it's happening, something they recognize. I wrote this simple boy/girl thing, the "I'm picking up good vibrations/She's giving m e excitations" part. When I didn't make it onto the label copy I was very upset. It's always been Brian Wilson this and Brian Wilson that. There was never any mention of Mike Love's contribution and I was sick of hearing it.

MIKE LOVE: I'd work with Brian again tomorrow but he has a problem with me. He's totally paranoid and he feels guilty about what happened and he gets crazy. In his mind he thinks, uh oh, I didn't give Mike a credit therefore Mike's going to kill me! It's that crazy!

MIKE LOVE: I was never unhappy with Brian as an artist, I was, and still am, unhappy about the way he treated himself and others. He became an egomaniac, taking too much acid, smoking so much grass that he just couldn't focus anymore, and he became a phys ical wreck. He kept telling us about the amazing music he was hearing in his head but he couldn't get it out, so what was the point? He went from being the most influential musician of his generation to being a paranoid wreck living in the chauffeur's qua rter's like a dog. I wasn't prepared to let him drag us down with him. Am I supposed to be evil because I wanted to salvage my career and Al and Carl and Bruce's livelihoods? Am I unreasonable to try to make Brian act responsibly? He was a grown man who h ad been induldged, acting like an idiot kid and our reputations were all going down with him.

MIKE LOVE: Look, the history of this band is like the history of Russia, it's been written under a regime that distorts the past. The reason I have resisted being forceful about things is because I felt sorry for Brian, I really did. Brian's book told lie s about me and when it came to the first deposition in the court, Brian admitted it was made up, phoney. He couldn't remember what happened to him back then and he was using other people's distorted version of events and calling it his own. I'm not respon sible for Brian's condition. I have tried, the band have tried, we all made allowances for Brian but there comes a point where you can't do that anymore.

MIKE LOVE: What's left of "Smile" is a shell. It would have been a great record but he just didn't have the will or the ability to finish it. See, a lot of the Brian bullshit rests around that album and it's nothing, it's just fragments. Who wants to hea r about Brian's mental problems anyway? I mean, to call a record "Sweet Insanity", imagine that. A whole album of Brian's madness that no one wants to release and still everyone says he's a genius! I make "Kokomo", it goes to number one in the charts and I'm still the dumb, know-nothing, talentless Mike Love.

MIKE LOVE: No, not jealous. It was more frustation than jealousy. It was about the way Brian was treating us and the reputation of the band. Up until 1967 it was no worries mate, as they say in Australia. Brian takes LSD and suddenly all of our livelihood s are in jeopardy. What would you do? Am I supposed to be ashamed of trying to save Brian from self-destruction? We tried the same with Dennis and to the outside world it looked like we didn't care and were being harsh because we threw him out of the band but it was the only way to try to get him to straighten out.

MIKE LOVE: Within the next five years I think I'll be doing something else. As a matter of fact a TM guru told me recently that I was destined to start a big world TM center in Northern California and that my true vocation in life was that. He said the ba nd was just a prelude to my spiritual destiny, my life as a teacher of TM.

MIKE LOVE: The Beach Boys have always been lovingly irrelevent. There's a great deal more complex concerns than cars and girls, there always was, but we wanted to make people have a good time, take them away for a while. There was always pollution and cri me and starvation. Being the person I am now I find it difficult to be the carefree person I was in the 60's. People have always called us anachronistic and they're right! We want to say something important again.

interview by Cliff Jones

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