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Brian Wilson Vs. Wayne Coyne Vs. Stop Smiling: Part One

Wilson & Coyne.

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

By JC Gabel

Originally Published in Issue #9 (?The Millennium Made Me Do It? Issue, 2000) as ?Playing Both Sides of the Coyne.? Part One, which features Wilson talking to Coyne, appears today ? check back with Stop Smiling Online tomorrow for Part Two.

***

The following are two one-on-one interviews that together reflect the spontaneity and quirkiness of the early issues of Stop Smiling that we?re slowly transferring online for our new reader?s to digest. PART ONE is an interview Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips conducted with Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson in the spring of 1999. It was originally conducted for the HBO show, ?Reverb," but sadly that particular episode never aired. Fortunately for us, a friend of ours, who had dealings with the show, leaked us a videotape of the interview, knowing we would print it in Stop Smiling. PART TWO, in essence, is a follow up interview that I did with Wayne Coyne in the summer of 1999, around the time that the Flaming Lips released The Soft Bulletin. We discussed, among other things, Wayne?s interview with Brian Wilson, as well as other tales of aging rock stars, among other things. - J.C. Gabel

Brian Wilson Vs. Wayne Coyne

Wayne Coyne: Do you like it when [the audience] is into your live show?

Brian Wilson: That was the first time that that has ever happened to me in my whole life. I mean, this is the first time that this has happened with people singing along to the songs with me. This is the first concert this has ever happened in.

WC: You mean, compared to the Beach Boys? stuff, where they were cheering for the whole band?

BW: I?m so good at music it just carries all the way to LA.

WC: What? You feel like that when you?re out there, people are ?

BW: I don?t really think about it. I?m thinkin? about my voice and what I?m doing.

WC: Right, you wanna do a show.

BW: I wanna do a good job so that everyone will clap along.

WC: Well, you made them do that.

BW: That?s my new thing ? clapping through the audience.

WC: Well, I think the show went well. I think people were expecting you to be more scared.

BW: Well, you know what? About 30 minutes before I went on, I was like, ?I?m too scared, I?m not doing this show. I?m going to fuck up, I?m going to scream ? with all these people.? All of a sudden, the lights went on in my head and ? as the show went on, the scariness slowly tapered down.

WC: Well, you know, I perform, too. I would just like to barrel right through it ? get to the end, say ?See ya!? Would you rather do that, or would you like to take the break?

BW: I like to take the break.

WC: Does this let you regroup? Were there some songs that were different from last night?s set?

BW: No, no ? they were the same songs.

WC: Were you guys going to do ?Surf?s Up? at some point?

BW: We talked about it, but we decided not to because I didn?t like the song.

WC: Tired of it?

BW: Yeah, I?m tired of it.

WC: So, is it the songs that you?ve got picked out ?

BW: Every song on this repertoire is perfectly orchestrated from the time of its inception.

WC: And you feel like ?Surf?s Up? didn?t evolve in that way.

BW: It didn?t belong in the show.

WC: Do you think there?s a chance ?

BW: No.

WC: So, are you going to continue to play out live?

BW: If I get lucky.

WC: What do you mean?

BW: You see, I get depressed -?you know what I mean?

WC: And you can?t tell when it?s going to fall upon you?

BW: No.

WC: Well, then, this must make you feel good, even though it seems stressful. Do you like playing with all these new musicians?

BW: They?re the best. I?ve never played a show with better players. They?re in their early-20s, total energy scene.

WC: You have the Wondermint guys?

BW: They?re a group to watch out for. They?re very good.

WC: And they came out from LA?

BW: They came to our rehearsal space in St. Charles, Illinois, and we rehearsed for about five to six days, two days at a big rehearsal hall, then we started the tour.

WC: Are you like the band director, saying, ?This part goes here ? ?

BW: No. Joe Thomas was.

WC: Are you trying to make it sound like the Beach Boys records? I think people were surprised at how precise ?

BW: It?s scary, it?s so scary. It scares me so much ? I can?t even breathe.

WC: What about the singing [there was at least ten people on stage during Brian?s live dates ed note]? Are you sure you wanted that many people singing? Sort of have that full sound that people are used to hearing with your songs?

BW: Over the microphone, I could hear ? you know Bob Dylan?

WC: Sure.

BW: Well, live, you know, he sort of has this harsh, raspy voice. That?s what I have. I?m like the Bob Dylan of the ?90s.

WC: Do you still think you can sing pretty good?

BW: I guess so. Not like I used to.

WC: Whenever people refer to you as a musical genius ? I?m sure you?re used to seeing that next to your name a lot.

BW: For anyone to call me a genius, they must really like my stuff. Pet Sounds was considered a genius album and I?m very proud of it.

WC: Do you think that you?re a genius when people say that?

BW: Well, sure. But I like to use the word clever. A clever songwriter.

WC: Sure. Do you ever get tired of being known as ?this crazy guy? who wrote these ?crazy songs??

BW: Yeah, I do.

WC: Would you rather have them think of you as a crafty songwriter?

BW: No, I?m not there yet. I haven?t achieved that level yet.

WC: Do you feel like some of that eccentricity that they throw at you from back then, like this, was sort of exaggerated to make great stories?

BW: I think it?s exaggerated. It?s going an extra 20 yards.

WC: Does it scare you to know that you?re a genius at some times?

BW: Believe it or not, it doesn?t. The greatest compliment anyone can ever call you is a genius. It?s beautiful.

WC: It?s a sign of respect.

BW: I consider Barry White to be a genius.

WC: I know you?ve talked about the Beatles a lot. Do you consider them to be geniuses?

BW: Are you kidding? John and Paul are probably the greatest songwriters of all time.

WC: Do you still feel that way?

BW: Oh, yes. Paul McCartney did ?Let It Be.? That?s not too bad of a song.

WC: God, I listened to it ? not three days ago.

BW: [?Let It Be?] comes along to help sometimes ? you know: ?Let it be, Let it be??

WC: Paul McCartney had done a couple of records where he was like the band conductor sort of thing. Have you ever thought about doing that?

BW: Yeah, hopefully.

WC: Is this something you?re really gonna pursue?

BW: I?d like to go down the pipe with it.

WC: Do you ever drive along in your car and sing along to your songs?

BW: No, I don?t do that.

WC: I love to sing to the radio.

BW: I do, too.

WC: Now it?s better if there?s no one in the car, but I do it anyway.

BW: I feel secure, tuning out. I?ve heard my songs on the radio lately, like four or five times. And it just blows my mind that people still think we?re good. We?re so good at music ? people love us.

WC: When you talk about the Beatles, and how they changed the way you thought about songs ? when stuff like Jimi Hendrix and some of the louder guitar stuff came along in the late Sixties ? did you ever consider doing loud, noisy stuff?

BW: We never got into the heavy musical level trip. We never needed to. It?s already been done.

WC: Did you see any pressure to go that way?

BW: No, no.

WC: Did you like that sort of stuff?

BW: It makes you feel like swimming, exercising, breaking a sweat.

WC: Does it surprise you when people like harder-edged music, but like your stuff as well?

BW: Yes, very much. Can we wind up? I?m nervous as hell.

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