Scene Magazine Interviews Dennis Wilson

As the release of Pacific Ocean Blue neared, Dennis started giving more interviews. Suddenly, instead of being asked about Brian, or about what kind of girls he dug the most, or what his favorite color was, Dennis was answering questions about his OWN music...about his own tastes, his own goals, his own ideas. The cultural spotlight had grazed him once earlier with the release of Two Lane Blacktop, but this was different...this was HIS project. One can hear the pride in his voice as he says "I AM doing it". While offering a candid view of Dennis (most interviews with him did...Dennis didn't fake much), one noteworthy and intriguing moment is when Dennis mentions the name of his NEW, second solo album! This is the only time in article or interview that we at Bamboo Archive Project have EVER heard this title mentioned.

This interview was originally published in Scene Magazine on January 13th, 1977, and is reprinted here on for the first time since it first appeared in Cleveland Ohio.

Dennis Wilson: more than just one of the (Beach) boys

by Jim Girard

Anyone who has ever seen The Beach Boys perform knows that they are among the most hard-working performers in rock and roll. Their tours have become causes for celebration; their audiences grow younger, it seems, as the years go by. In some form or another, The Beach Boys have changed from one of the biggest record sellers in the world to one of its top concert draws. Now it seems as though they are returning to the top of the charts. Their 15 BIG ONES this past year marked their formal turning point, followed closely by their own TV special and a major tour. As 1977 marks their 16th year as a recording act, the five original Beach Boys are back on-stage. Brian Wilson, a living legend if there ever was one, has made a permanent return to performing with the band, and the results are sold-out arenas and rave reviews. The years of questioning as to his well-being and whereabouts are over; Brian is back. Many of the Beach Boys' audiences are young enough to be his children. So it goes... There isn't anyone happier to see Brian return to the fold than his brother Dennis. For all too long, Carl and Dennis Wilson amiably carried out the tradition of the band and pushed onward. However, now that The Beach Boys are five strong (with several excellent on-stage friends and relatives to boot), 1977 could be their finest year yet. Speaking to Dennis Wilson via phone, SCENE discovered several interesting things from this "sexiest" Beach Boy - the one who doesn't usually do interviews. Dennis took a break from finishing-off the vocals on his first solo album, PACIFIC OCEAN BLUE (a February release on Caribou Records), to speak.

SCENE: Is there a lot of recording going on at Brother studio? Brother studio?

DENNIS: Yep. Right now I am doing my own album and finishing that up, and we are also working on two Beach Boys albums. Things just happened to work out that way; we have a lot of songs we are recording. It will be two separate Beach Boy albums of all new and original stuff.

SCENE: You guys are touring, though.

DENNIS: We have this few weeks in January to tour and we are coming to Cleveland, right?

SCENE: Yeah, that is sort of why we are doing this interview...and to promote your own album.

DENNIS: That's right. Good idea.

SCENE: I don't remember you doing many interviews in the past.

DENNIS: I just didn't want to do anything, that's all. We were five guys and some of the guys liked to do interviews more than others. Some of them liked to do it and at one point I didn't. I didn't dig it, but now I do.

SCENE: What else are you going to do to promote your solo album when it comes out?

DENNIS: I would like to meet people in the radio end and people in the field. I'll still be just a Beach Boy mostly, though. If I do any performing of the material, it will be on a Beach Boy stage.

SCENE: Since it's on Caribou, I guess you can't use any of the other Beach Boys on it, right?

DENNIS: Right. I'm not allowed to use any of them on the album. They're not on it, but I do use a couple of different drummers and Ed Carter on guitar. I also put some violins on it and some vocalists, too. I play most of the things myself though. Mostly, it's just me.

SCENE: You play piano, guitar and all that?

DENNIS: Yep. It's just a little home-made album, that's all. I am also producing it, but it's no huge production. It's simple and fun. I'm really interested to see what happens. You know, it's no big ego flash. I don't know how to put that delicately, but it's not like, "Okay, I'm gonna be a big star" or anything. It's just a hobby for me and I love doing it. I am doing it.

SCENE: Would you say it is simple on the production side like, say, McCartney's first solo album?

DENNIS: It's similar in the fact that I played all of the instruments, more or less. The sound is real different. It grew in our studio; I cut in our studio when it was first built. Now the sound of the studio has changed and the sound of the album has changed a lot. It's not like one total concept.

SCENE: You mean the tracks vary in quality?

DENNIS: Just that the technique in recording is like one guy doing everything. When you take your time with it and play with it, the result is more home-made than studio put-together.

SCENE: You've written a lot of Beach Boys' songs, and you never really have been thought of as a writer, though.

DENNIS: Right... I'm mostly a drummer. I wrote all of my album, though, and it has got a little bit of everything on it. There's one called "Thoughts Of You,"... but I like the whole tIbum. I like the way they are all different. Like I said, I like the home-made effect using inches per second versus string ensembles or moog and stuff. I came up with an overall sound that would sound like a much bigger rack, but it's not much at all. I'll say this album is different than any album I have ever heard.

SCENE: Are you still studying acting?

DENNIS: I studied with Lee Strasberg, but I stopped; we were working too much. I am gonna get into making films and produce a couple of them. I like that, too.

SCENE: When are you going to find time?

DENNIS: We have several months after January that The Beach Boys are sort of taking off, and I'm gonna get busy. Also, I'm gonna do my second solo album, TORNADO. I'm already working on that album. I wanna do a couple of films, though.

SCENE: You'd actually star in your own movie?

DENNIS: Well, I would probably own the project and write it or score it, too. Maybe I'd act in it. I would decide who would go in it, though. I would have to find the right director, though. I love anything that has to do with musical images or film images. I love art.

SCENE: Who are some of your favorite actors?

DENNIS: I only have one. There is only one favorite actor; that is Sir Lawrence Olivier. He is one of the masters.

SCENE: I thought maybe you'd say James Dean.

DENNIS: James Dean kind of followed in his memory and stuff. Olivier is really good, though. I'd be honored to work with Olivier.
James Dean was good, but he really never had a chance to blossom. He was just starting to get into it. It would have been interesting to see Dean at age 45 or something, still working, and be able to watch his career develop. That is part of the thing; watching a career develop.

SCENE: You have so many interests that you must always be on the go.

DENNIS: I see a lot of poeple doing a lot of different things. Like, one thing isn't enough for me. See, I'm not hung-up on time the way some people are. I'm not structured like your normal eight-hour-a-day guy is. For example, my work schedule today is that I came into the studio this morning at 9 a.m. From then until 3 p.m. today I worked with The Beach Boys. From 3 p.m. until I leave tonight-probably around midnight-it's myself working on my album. I don't stop and I have a lot of energy. A lot of people get tired, but for some reason I have a lot of energy. I don't know why that is.

SCENE: Probably because you are the craziest of The Beach Boys.

DENNIS: Well, I am crazy, but we have all had our share of having fun. I guess I am more outgoing than the other guys in the band-at least sports wise. But as far as personalities go, all of us are fairly outgoing. They all definitely go on-stage and that can only mean one thing; there's a bit of exhibitionist in all of 'em.

SCENE: I've seen several Beach Boys shows over the years, and I've noticed that you looked bored - like especially when Bruce Johnston was in the band and after that when Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar came in. Were you bored?
DENNIS: I don't know if I was bored. Well, I just wasn't real satisfied without Brian being in the band. I loved Bruce and all, but it just wasn't fulfilling on-stage. It became a chore. I wouldn't say I was bored, though, but I guess I could have been more professional and pretended like I wasn't. I have a hard time pretending, I guess.

SCENE: Things have changed since Brian has come back?

DENNIS: I'll tell you, it's really been a treat being on the road with us five again. Really good. It sure has been great this year with Brian back. He just decided that he wanted to do it again, which is very good. Now it's the way it should have been.

SCENE: Are you gonna sing on-stage more now - lead vocals or anything?

DENNIS: Just what I always have. Just harmony. My album is out the middle of February; I'll wait.

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