Perhaps no other artist has left a larger imprint on popular music than The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. From the feel-good kitsch of to the now-legendary sonic experimentation of Pet Sounds, Wilson demonstrated a natural knack for songwriting, and his creative perfectionism helped revolutionize studio recording. In December he released his 11th solo album, No Pier Pressure, and this July he’ll arrive at the Cosmopolitan theater The Chelsea to debut the new songs alongside folk musician Sixto Rodriguez.
One of Wilson’s more collaborative efforts, the album features contributions from artists including Zooey Deschanel, Kacey Musgraves, and Nate Ruess, the lead singer of Fun. Wilson’s favorite track, “Sail Away,” reunites him with founding Beach Boy Al Jardine and South African vocalist Blondie Chaplin, who famously took the lead on the band’s 1973 hit “Sail On, Sailor.”
The album’s release comes during a moment of renewed interest in Wilson’s life. This past June, the early years of his relationship with his wife, Melinda Ledbetter Wilson, were the subject of the critically acclaimed biopic Love & Mercy, starring Paul Dano and John Cusack as Wilson at different stages of his life and Elizabeth Banks as Melinda.
Although Wilson wasn’t involved in the film’s production—and admits to feeling some trepidation upon first hearing about it—he agreed to spend a week with Dano and Cusack, chatting about his childhood in Southern California and the thrill of recording music in the ’60s and ’70s. “They got familiar with my mannerisms and my personality,” Wilson says, “and then when they made the movie, they had a lot more confidence in themselves.”
He endorses the film as an accurate portrait of a life dedicated to exploring the nature of creativity, a preoccupation that’s been at once intensely rewarding and intensely frustrating. In fact, Wilson confesses to being in the midst of a creative drought that has lasted half a year, but he remains hopeful that he’ll find his inspiration again soon.
And if it’s any consolation, the fruits of his labor aren’t going unnoticed by the generations of fans who continue to discover and propagate his music, like Sebu Simonian of the Billboardtopping pop duo Capital Cities, one of Wilson’s collaborators on No Pier Pressure. “What surprises me most about Brian,” says Simonian, “is how at the age of 73, he’s still able to write skillfully crafted pop songs that sound relevant and innovative.” July 10. $50–$125. The Chelsea at Cosmopolitan