Mike Love Leads the Beach Boys into a New Chapter of Their Legacy

If music history has taught any lessons, it’s that Mike Love isn’t going away. Love him or loathe him, the man at the helm of the Beach Boys continues to tour as rigorously as ever, even more than the band’s creative and commercial peak of the ‘60s. Playing around 175 shows for the past several of years, Love’s Beach Boys don’t have any plans to slow down anytime soon.

While many people scoff and snicker at this incarnation of the Beach Boys’ decision to play smaller towns and performing arts centers — much like the one in Cerritos this weekend — Love relishes it. Calling the sound pristine, the singer says those environments helps do the classic Beach Boys songs justice, and of course, they’re more apt to appreciate a legendary band rolling through town.

“It’s pretty incredible that five-and-a-half decades later, that we’re still world famous,” Love says from the road in Arizona. “What it is is a family tradition that’s because my cousin Brian (Wilson) and I were able to the environment of Southern California and make up some songs about the life we were living, has been a miraculous thing to experience. I’m glad we did.”

Performing the hits from the band’s heyday along with lesser favorites like “Darlin” and “Wild Honey” Love says how much he enjoys performing that classic tunes. Last year, Brian Wilson performed around the country (and is playing the Pacific Amphitheater October 14) in honor of the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds, an album some have pointed out that Love wasn’t exactly fond of. He says that isn’t the case.

“People said I said disparaging things about Pet Sounds, but that’s absolutely not true,” Love says defiantly. “In fact, I named the album and went with Brian to play it for the A&R guy at Capitol. There were some special songs on there that we still do to this day.”

To younger folks, he may be known as the uncle to Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, but that doesn’t bother the 76-year-old. Calling upon his family’s athletic prowess (brother Stan played in the NBA, Mike ran long-distance track) as one of the reasons he’s been able to endure, Love remains in good shape for a man who is out on the road as much as he is. Crediting transcendental meditation that he picked up in India 50 years ago, Love credits that as well for his ability to be in top health.

“You don’t do any harm to your instrument, which is your voice,” he explains. “We learned very early on that you can’t stay up all night and drink and smoke, do bad things to yourself, and expect to sing like your record sounds. Some people resort to drugs and alcohol to deal with stressful situations, but they always have negative side effects. Meditation has zero side effects, and it’s all good.” Earlier this year, Love enlisted longtime pal John Stamos and Mark McGrath for a re-recorded version of the Beach Boys’ “Do It Again.” As much as the singer enjoyed re-recording “Do It Again,” he says he’s been crafting material for what could be the band’s first album in nearly five-and-a-half years. When asked, he was a bit cagey on what’s to come only staying that he’s been working on new tunes.

As long as he’s physically able and healthy, this version of the Beach Boys will soldier on and continue to tour. “Tony Bennett is our barometer,” Love quips. “He still sounds great, and he’s 90!”

For many, this version of the Beach Boys hasn’t been complete since 2012, when Love and Wilson reunited in honor of the band’s 50th anniversary. Coinciding with that lauded tour was the band’s last official album of new material, That’s Why God Made the Radio. Much like the scene at the end of The Godfather when Tessio asks Tom Hagen to let him off for old times sake, Love isn’t quite ruling out a reunion with Wilson. Their hot-and-cold relationship has been chronicled many times, including in Love’s recent book, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy, which just was released as a paperback version.

Even with that last chance reunion between the cousins a remote possibility, Love isn’t going to let the Beach Boys fade quietly into the California night. In fact, there could be a chance better than Lloyd Christmas and Mary Swanson getting together in Dumb and Dumber. Either way, long time fans shouldn’t count out a final major tour quite yet.

“That would be neat to be able to do that,” he says of a potential reunion with Wilson. “But Brian is out with his band and is on his own trajectory. Bruce (guitarist Bruce Johnston) and I do our thing and keep busy. There hasn’t been any discussions about that of late. But I wouldn’t rule it out.”

The Beach Boys perform at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, Sep. 24. For full details, click here.

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