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Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys, Gershwin and his upcoming biopic

Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys, Gershwin and his upcoming biopic  (photo)

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In 1966, after The Beach Boys masterwork, “Pet Sounds,” the band planned to follow up their success with an album called “Smile.” But as so often happens complications arose and somewhere during the many recording sessions between the spring of ’66 and the summer of ’67, the band fell apart. The master tapes were shelved, and the record was never released. Though the band was destined to release many more albums afterward, that album plagued by disputes and Brian Wilson’s breakdown in ’67, never saw a proper release. Wilson eventually released his own critically acclaimed solo version, but in the legendary songwriter’s own words, the original 1966-’67 “Smile Sessions” just finally released after 44 years is perhaps more “interesting.”

I talked with Wilson, whom I was told loved Broadway musicals more than anything, and though that proved not to be wholly accurate, he certainly loves Gershwin more than anything. We talked about his favorites, an upcoming Brian Wilson/Beach Boys biopic, and how the 1965 film “The Monkey’s Uncle” blew him out.

Was some of the material on “Smile” too cryptic for the rest of the band at the time, too complex?

Right, complex is the word, yeah.

How does this compare to the solo version you released a few years back?

Well, a little more interesting, I think. It’s the makings of “Smile.” Sort of like the background view of what we did back then [in the 60’s].

You were inspired by Gershwin, and did that great re-imagining of his songs last year, which I thought was pretty fantastic. How have Broadway musicals influenced your own writing?

You know what? There are hardly any, not really at all.

Really, you didn’t find them to be much of an influence, even back in the day?

No, Tony Hatch I liked a lot, but, you know. I didn’t really go to musicals, hardly at all.

But Gershwin certainly inspired your songwriting.

Well George Gershwin was my big hero. Of course, yeah. I first heard Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue when I was 3 years old. Our song “Heroes and Villains” [on “Smile”] had a lot of Gershwin in it. He was the greatest.

Have you ever thought of film composing?

No, I haven’t. I can write songs, I’ve had songs in movies, but I can’t compose film scores, you know?

Were you happy with how your Disney album came out?

Yeah, we just finished it up, songs “In the key of Disney.” It had 12 songs on it, and I produced it and sang the leads. My background band played the instruments and sang background. It took us about 2 months to make it, it’s a great album. “When you Wish Upon a Star,” “Stay, Stay Awake Baby of Mine.” There’s so many beautiful tunes on there.

So not even that, those were all really film songs, that hasn’t sparked your interest in composing music for film?

Well, no, not really [laughs].

What’s your usual reaction to hearing the Beach Boys in a movie?

Well in “The Monkey’s Uncle?” It blew me out! I was so proud to be part of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon too, you know? I never really met Frankie Avalon, well I might have, but I can’t remember [laughter].

I hear there’s a film about you coming out, is that true?

That’s true. We don’t know when. We don’t know when but it’s in the makings now. We’re trying to get the script so it’s accurate and doesn’t, you know, say things that I didn’t do, you know. You know what I mean?

So you’re involved, kind of approving things?

Yeah, we’ve been doing that off and on for a couple of months now. As soon as the script’s done they’ll go ahead with the movie.

Is it going to be a broad Brian Wilson biopic or focus in on a particular time of The Beach Boys?

Both, both.

If you could inhabit a Gershwin tune, which would it be?

Oh, well, “Love Is Here to Stay.” And “I Loves You, Porgy,” “Summertime”, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Those 5 are my favorite.

I like a Gershwin tune, how about you? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Exclusive premiere: Family of the Year “St. Croix”

Exclusive premiere: Family of the Year “St. Croix” (photo)

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The tight knit LA bunch, Family of the Year, deliver their Beach Boys inspired sing-along as a giddy make out session. I nominate the chorus, “You bring the ocean, I’ll bring the motion, together we’ll make a love potion,” to be the heavy petting rallying cry of the season.

“We didn’t want to be dramatic or make a video that had to be taken too seriously,” drummer Sebastian Keefe says of this throwback directed by Oscar nominated and Sundance winning filmmaker, Jessica Sanders. Keefe explained that the origin of the song was in their desire to poke fun at guitarist Jamesy Buckey’s upcoming trip to the Caribbean. “We wrote this song when Jamesy was looking forward to his trip to the Caribbean with some friends. Those friends weren’t us, so we wrote about what we thought should happen.”

Sounds like it doesn’t work out too poorly for Jamesy.

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Don’t hesitate to play this sunny ditty all winter long either. Keefe points out that, “People have said It reminds them of summer time, but St. Croix, the place, is more of a winter vacation spot.”

Keefe wrote the chorus on this one in a switch with usual frontman (and brother) Joe Keefe, who wrote the drum part. on this one, and Sebastian I contributed the words in the chorus. Family of the Year’s EP, “St. Croix,” out now on tiny OGRE were recorded with producer Wally Gagel (Eels, Norah Jones, Old 97s). Their full-length, “Diversity” is due out in early 2012.

Will you bring the ocean? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

Exclusive premiere: The Rural Alberta Advantage “Tornado ’87”

Exclusive premiere: The Rural Alberta Advantage “Tornado ’87” (photo)

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In “Tornado ’87” The Rural Alberta Advantage explores singer/songwriter Nils Edenloff’s memory of a disaster that struck his hometown when he was a child. “Being an Edmontonian, it’s impossible to understate the impact that the Tornado of ’87 had on the city of Edmonton,” Edenloff says. “A Tornado isn’t something that typically happens on the Canadian Prairies, so at the end of that July when Edmonton was struck with an F4 tornado that killed 27 people, it was something that left a permanent mark on the city.”

Director Scott Cudmore used this as a backdrop to create a this piece, more of a short film than a music video, fictionalizing that memory with stunning visuals.

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“As an 8 year old at the time, I don’t know if I was able to truly comprehend the full impact of the event when it happened and looking back on the writing of this song,” Edenloff continues. “I sometimes feel like I approached it from a hypothetical perspective. However, after performing this song in front of thousands people and meeting scores of people who were touched by the Tornado, or a similar event themselves, I feel like I have a more mature appreciation of this song. Whether that’s a good thing or not I still can’t say, but it was definitely an unanticipated side effect when I was first dreaming of the song.”

As for the bizarre, almost Tarkovsky-like setting in which this episode is re-imagined by Scott Cudmore, he explains, “I’ve had the idea in my head for awhile to make a music video where the whole thing is just the band or the artist listening to the song that they’ve recorded. Not playing it, just listening to it. In this case I was sort of re-imagining the context in which the song would have been written…fictionalizing it and building a little miniature world around that fictionalized moment. In a way this video is my attempt at making something like science fiction.”

The Rural Alberta Advantage tour dates:

11/11 Peterborough @ The Venue w/ Sam Roberts Band
11/12 Hamilton @ Hamilton Palace Theatre w/ Sam Roberts Band
11/17 Toronto @ The Phoenix

Ever been caught in a tornado? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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