Maybe the Beach Boys just weren’t made for these ‘N Sync times, but The Flys still believe in Brian Wilson.
The Hollywood-based rock quartet scored a coup with its second Trauma/Delicious Vinyl album, “Outta My Way” (released April 18): The enigmatic Wilson granted permission for the band to sample two songs off the legendary “Pet Sounds” album.
Lead singer Adam Paskowitz still can’t believe their good fortune.
“We were – at least I was – very influenced by Brian Wilson,” Paskowitz said recently. “I had been listening a lot to the ‘Pet Sounds’ record, so we wrote some songs and I incorporated some of the vocals from the Beach Boys directly. I sent it to Brian Wilson, and my first goal was just to get him to say ‘Yeah, you can use my voice.’
“I saw him play live and I briefly said hello, but the thing about Brian Wilson is that it’s very unlikely he would remember you. The show that I was at, there were so many famous young artists there. To him, he doesn’t know the difference between me or Eddie Vedder or me and Beck or me and anybody. That’s why I was just so stoked when his rep came back to me and said, ‘You know, he really doesn’t do this, but he said okay. Go ahead.’ Then I thought it might cost a million dollars, but he wanted nothing. It was incredible. The guy really is a genius.”
As the sizzling opening track, “No Sad Story,” trails off, a portion of Wilson’s melancholic “Caroline, No” seeps through like an AM radio before ripping into the pop-savvy “Losin’ It,” the first single. The title track, meanwhile, takes bits and pieces of the “Pet Sounds” track “Here Today.”
“He let us use some harmonies that weren’t used before, and we used some tidbits off ‘Here Today’ that we found,” Paskowitz said. “It’s a very dangerous road to travel, doing the samples; that’s why I’m so proud of this record to be able to use that stuff in a way that doesn’t make you herbal or hippie.”
Once Wilson gave the go-ahead, Paskowitz and the other Flys – guitarist Peter Perdichizzi, bassist James Book and drummer Jack Holder – were energized to complete what turned out to be a relatively painfree sophomore album.
“We went to Maui and recorded with some really cool Hawaiian guys (for the nine-minute track ‘Hawaiian Dreams’),” Paskowitz said. “Then Peter got the art together, and it galvanized us. He was doing the art the same time we were making the record, and the combination of that was the vibe. It’s like, here we are, we’re the new Beach Boys.”
The Flys stayed close to home for the recording sessions with producer Chris Goss (of Masters of Reality). It suited them just fine.
“It was surf first and then record later in the day,” Paskowitz said. “It was an enormous amount of fun. We had the car sitting there in the rehearsal studio. It took us three weeks to write and four weeks to record. It was a painless, awesome experience. If it gets easier than this, sign me up permanently.”
The group made a big splash in 1998 with its debut album, “Holiday Man,” which sold nearly 500,000 copies and spawned a Top 5 mainstream rock track hit with “Got You (Where I Want You).” That success didn’t put pressure on them for the follow-up album, Paskowitz says; it just gave them the confidence they needed.
“We just jammed out and gave a representation of our lifestyle and that was it,” he said. “If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it’s like my dad says, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, do something else.’
“I hope the new one is going to be a successful record, financially and what not. But I’m convinced we made a great album. And it’s subtle, though. It’s a good subtle piece of work. It doesn’t hit you as off as some of the other bands that are out there; it’s more song based and that’s where we come from.”
More importantly, he hopes it renews interest in “Pet Sounds.” In the liner notes for “Outta My Way,” Paskowitz encourages listeners to seek out what many consider to be the premier pop album of all time.
“I’m hoping that if we talk enough about it, a few more kids will pick up that record,” he said. “It’s so fun and great, with the bongos and the orchestra and everything. The songs all kill ya. That’s the real Beach Boys. We’re not big fans of the Mike Love, ‘Kokomo,’ John Stamos era. That’s not we’re about.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “It was ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ by Stevie Wonder. I loved it. My brother had it and stopped letting me listen to it, so I got my own copy.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “The Gipsy Kings. They were awesome.”
THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: “George Michael’s greatest hits. And I’m not lying. It’s funny as hell. To listen to those lyrics now, they’re so gay, but he’s talented, man.”
More updates: Joe Henry, Marcus King, Lily Kershaw, Poliça, Sarah Brightman, Jerry Leger, Simple Minds, Grateful Dead, etc