The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine on New Sounds of Summer Compilation and Why “It’d Be Nice to Have a Reunion”

He also teases that a Beach Boys documentary is in the works

Beach Boys Interview
Beach Boys, photo courtesy of the Capitol Records Archives

    You hear that? That distant harmony basking in the hot sun? Those beautiful arrangements that, for some reason, make you want to pick up surfing? Yup, that’s The Beach Boys, alright. The iconic ‘60s harmony act has returned with the new expanded edition of their Sounds of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys compilation. Just in time for summer too! How about that…

    The retouch of Sounds of Summer, originally released in 2003, celebrates the band’s 60th anniversary and beefs up the original’s 30-song tracklist with 50 additional tunes of young love, distant islands, and, yes, shredding the waves. Curated by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd, who oversaw the SMiLE Sessions compilation, Sounds of Summer also features over 20 new mixes for fans to enjoy.

    Projects like Sound of Summer prove just how relevant The Beach Boys remain over half a century on. Children still grow up with hits like “Good Vibrations” and “Surfin’ USA,” megafans still obsess over unreleased material (as evidenced by SMiLE Sessions), and Pet Sounds still consistently ranks as one of the crowning achievements of pop music.


    “We [get] rediscovered by another generation, which is happening right now as a matter of fact,” Beach Boys co-founder and guitarist Al Jardine tells Consequence by phone. “It seems like there’s a renewal in every generation. Every ten years, it feels like.”

    Like The Beatles, the continued interest can sometimes lead to an over-mythologization of The Beach Boys and its five founding members. Tales of Brian Wilson’s mental health struggles and intra-band conflicts are nearly as famous as “God Only Knows” or “Kokomo.” But, also like The Beatles, it takes just one revisit to their music to remember why the frenzy remains — their songs are simply that timeless.

    We spoke to Al Jardine, who has his own re-release coming up in August, about the legacy and lasting success of The Beach Boys. Though he left the band for about a year in 1962, Jardine remained an instrumental member of The Beach Boys throughout their recording and touring career. Along with Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson — as well as a rotating cast of extremely talented session musicians and temporary touring members — Jardine contributed his talents as both a singer and producer to the many Beach Boys hits.

    Tracks like “Help Me, Rhonda,” “I Know There’s an Answer,” and “Vegetables” feature Jardine on lead vocals, and songs like “Cotton Fields” showcase the unique folk sensibilities he brought to Brian Wilson’s otherwise lush rock and roll arrangements. Though the Shakespearean tragedy of the Wilsons or the litigious actions of Mike Love outshine Jardine’s less controversial relationship with The Beach Boys, his fingerprints cover the band’s history much more than many casual fans realize.

    Jardine is not blind to the cultural behemoth that he helped start. He’s well aware of the music’s longstanding, overwhelming success — and he couldn’t be more grateful. Check out Jardine’s thoughts on the expansion of Sounds of Summer, the frustrating aspects of the music business, and the one thing people get wrong when telling The Beach Boys’ story below.


    Sounds of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys is available now on digital and physical formats. The Beach Boys’ SiriusXM channel “Good Vibrations” will also relaunch on July 1st; meanwhile, both Mike Love’s Beach Boys (get tickets here) and Brian Wilson with Al Jardine (get tickets here) are currently on tour.

    So take us back 60 years. What do you remember about the recording and the release of “Surfin’ Safari?”

    Well, it was our third single. What can I tell you? We just came off a bomb, a huge disaster called “Ten Little Indians.” The label didn’t know what the hell it was doing and thought that it would be a new direction for us. Obviously, it wasn’t. So, “Surfin’ Safari” bailed the group out. We thought it was over.

    If I’m not wrong, it was around then that you actually left the group for a little bit.

    Yeah, that’s true.

    Tell me about how you found your way back to the group.

    Brian Wilson was in a panic and didn’t foresee traveling with the band all the time. So, there was a phone call from him pleading with me to come back to the band. I was on my way to dental school, I had already been accepted. So, I gave it some thought and said, “You know, might be a hell of a lot more fun than this.”


    I was in college about a year longer than he was. He dropped out before I did. It was good, because I could tell he was really suffering from having to go out on the road, which is not easy for him. Interestingly enough, he subsequently had to come back out again because his father was our manager at the time and had fired David Marks. So, it forced Brian to rejoin the band, and then he had another nervous breakdown. That’s when Glenn Campbell joined the band. So, there have been some interchangeable personalities because of Brian’s mental illness.

    Going back to the not-so-good selling “Ten Little Indians” turning into the success of “Surfin’,” at what point did you realize, “Oh, this might be a big deal. We might be hitting onto something?”

    When “Surfin’ Safari” broke, that was my signal that it was going to be big. I had already left the band by then, but I knew from the stories that David told me that they thought it was over. And my departure from the band also freaked him out. So, there were a couple things going on at the same time. It was kinda complicated, but those two events at the same time kind of foretold doom [laughs]. But Brian pulled them out. Of course, I was on the demos, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. I did all the demo work before I left on most of those early songs.


    Looking back in the entirety of your time with The Beach Boys, is there any particular accomplishment that sticks out to you? Any moment that really put the whole experience into context?

    Actually, it was in the ‘80s, not the ‘60s. The ‘60s were such a struggle, and so the ‘80s were really the highlight of my career. We re-assessed The Beach Boys, I guess, internationally. We always felt like a hometown band. We didn’t see ourselves on the level of like The Beatles. Although, I guess with “Good Vibrations” we were kind of kicking in there. And with Pet Sounds. So yeah, we had respect, but it didn’t feel like it. In the mid ‘70s, we had a resurgence with an album called Endless Summer. Then we got our legs under us again.

    We also got rediscovered by another generation, which is happening right now as a matter of fact. We have that same discovery going on now thanks to Sounds of Summer, for instance. That helps people recognize our accomplishments. It seems like there’s a renewal in every generation. Every ten years it feels like. Because people start listening to music when they are eight or ten years old, or even earlier. And now all of a sudden, it’s like, hey, The Beach Boys are still around?


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