A college student named Stephanie from Canada interviewed me for a journalism assignment. I wanted to share it here so you guys could learn a little bit more about me (Eric) and my love for the Beach Boys.
1) So I need a bit of background information on you: What’s your age? Where were you born? And where do you live now?
My name is Eric Warncke. I am a 24 year old male and I was born in a town called Ware, Massachusetts, USA. Today I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
2) What do you do for a living?
I work full time for a start-up cloud computing company called ProfitBricks. They started out 2 years ago in Germany and have done very well there, so now they are launching in the Americas. I do marketing and sales for ProfitBricks. I also started my own company 2 months ago. I am the founder and CEO of Awesome Products. I have 4 employees right now and we are designing a mobile application that will allow anyone to create and share their own music - even if they have never touched an instrument before. It will be available for Android phones and tablets in fall 2012 and Apple Iphones and Ipads in spring 2013.
3) Have you attended post-secondary education? If so, where? And what did you major in?
I went to college at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA for Web Design and Graphic Arts. It was the biggest waste of time and money I've ever experienced. I learned much more by reading the Steve Jobs biography.
4) Now the fun stuff. Can you recall the first time you heard the Beach Boys? Explain to me how old you were, and what your initial reaction to them was.
I probably heard the Beach Boys before I could remember; as a baby. When I was 11 or 12 I got my first portable CD walkman and I had a burnt CD with the song Surfin' USA on it that I used to listen to every day. I don't know if I actually knew it was the Beach Boys. You see, I grew up with my dad and the only music he would ever listen to was Funk and Disco music. He never played the Beach Boys so I didn't know a lot about their music.
I remember one day hearing 15 seconds of the song "God Only Knows" on a commercial when I was 17. That was the first time I knew that I LOVED the Beach Boys. I ran around my house mis-singing the lyrics to that song over and over. I thought the words were "God Only Knows How Much I Love You". I started researching them on the internet and everyone raved about the album "Pet Sounds", so I went out to a music store in the city a few weeks later with my friend and bought a CD version of Pet Sounds (I still have it). The first time I ever listened to that album from beginning to end my life changed. I realized that music could be an expression of the hopes, failings, dreams and emotions of the song writer. The music itself was also so much more complex and clever than anything I had ever heard before. There were multiple bass guitars that played more than just the root note of the song; there were harmonicas, saxophones, multiples pianos and flutes embellishing upon the chords; there were sudden shifts in the music; there were incredible vocal harmonies that sounded better than any human voices I had ever heard before. I suddenly saw music as "art" and not just sounds. I knew from that point on that I would try to write something just like that album and that I would keep listening to the Beach Boys over and over. I was incredibly inspired. It was one of the most powerful feelings I had ever felt.
5) In our initial email, you mentioned that you are the biggest Beach Boys fan, what separates you from other fans?
I am not the biggest Beach Boys fan in the world, but I have been lucky enough to meet hundreds, if not thousands of other fans all over the world who share my obsession with this band and they have all given me new perspectives, ideas and theories about the band to keep my interest piqued for years. I love the Beach Boys and I always will, but I bet there is someone out there who ONLY listens to the Beach Boys, but I sometimes play the Beatles, The High Llamas, The Heavy Blinkers and lots of other great pop bands.
6) Have you ever had a chance to see them play live? If so, how was the concert (or concerts, if you’ve seen them multiple times)? I know they are touring now, will you be seeing them on this tour?
I saw Brian Wilson live on my 21st birthday in 2008 (I still have the ticket) in Northampton, Massachusetts and I absolutely loved it. I posted about that on my blog. I also saw the Beach Boys a month or two ago at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut (I still have this ticket too). I wrote a huge entry and posted lots of pictures and videos here (http://warnakeysbeachboysblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/review-beach-boys-in-concert-51212.html) I had the opportunity to sit in the 5th row, right in front of the stage and it was a magical night for me. When I first started listening to the Beach Boys all 6 of the members were caught in legal fights with each other and I wasn't sure if they would ever get back together, although in my heart I did feel that they would. Fortunately, the Beach Boys were able to let the past go and remember that they are family and originally loved playing music together. They also made a new album together called "That's Why God Made The Radio" that went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its first week. That is the first time the Beach Boys have ever charted that high so quickly. I am really proud of them and I have more peace in my life because of that. I feel that if the Beach Boys can resolve their differences then I can overcome any grudges that I hold too. It taught me a lot of life lessons.
7) If someone has never heard the Beach Boys (very unlikely, but who knows), and was interested in getting to know their catalogue, what album would you suggest they listen to?
Pet Sounds. That is the album that just about anyone would recommend as a starting point. It highlights what the Beach Boys are capable of - vocally and musically. Stand-outs from the album are "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "Let's Go Away For A While", "God Only Knows", "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" and "Caroline, No".
8) What is your all-time favorite Beach Boys song? If you can’t narrow it down to one, a list of some of your favorites would be great.
That is a VERY difficult question, because so many of their songs have different qualities that are my favorite (for example, one song has my favorite vocal harmonies, one song has my favorite chorus, one song has my favorite intro, one song is my favorite fast song, one song is my favorite ballad, one song is my favorite instrumental piece, one song is my favorite A Cappella song, one song has the best hook, one song is my favorite unreleased track, etc.) So I will try to write my favorite songs and what makes them my favorites.
Friends - This is the title track from the Beach Boys 1968 album Friends. I love the fact that this song is in 3/4 time, like a waltz. I also love the great breakdown where they repeat the line "Let's Be Friends!" and a saxophone answers their vocal chant. This song makes me endlessly happy and has a wonderful message about (obviously) friendship.
Anna Lee, The Healer - This song is also from the 1968 Friends album. This song takes simplicity to a whole new level. It has 3 instruments: bongos, bass guitar and piano. The lyrics are about a woman who touches people and heals them. During the intro and choruses of the song the entire band sings "Anna Lee, Anna Lee, The Healer" in one of the most perfect examples of the Beach Boys' vocal harmonies. The vocals in this song make me feel fantastic and it is truly one of the most overlooked gems they have ever put on tape.
We're Together Again - This song was recorded right after Friends was released in 1968 and still had that wonderful vibe from the 2 songs I listed above. The song was originally written for the members of Three Dog Night back when their band was called "Redwood". Redwood rejected this song so the Beach Boys recorded it themselves, but it wasn't released until 1990. It features amazing key changes and beautiful lyrics about being back together with your girl after breaking up. It is perhaps more relevant today than it was when it was first recorded because the Beach Boys themselves are together again after more than 25 years apart.
Kiss Me Baby - This is from the Beach Boys Today album. The B side of this album had 5 incredible ballads on it and this one is absolutely the most beautiful. The song itself is about breaking up with a girl and the agony experienced in the hours after. This song features some of the most gorgeous vocal harmonies and tender lyrics the band has ever done. The chorus of this song is also beautiful, featuring multiple vocal parts happening at the same time.
Soulful Old Man Sunshine - This song was an unreleased track from 1968 (you may have noticed that was a fantastic year for the band) and features absolutely jubilant lyrics, exciting horns and tons of layered vocal harmonies. It really can't be described until you hear it. Soulful Old Man Sunshine is over the top fun, happy and also has some doo wop influenced vocal sections.
California Girls - This is one of the Beach Boys' best known songs with good reason. The introduction to this song is a brilliant instrumental buildup that starts in B major and ends up in A major. The lyrics to this song are in line with most boys' thought processes: girls and sun. The chorus of this song is also a force of nature that has to be reckoned with. Right before the end of the song the music suddenly drops and an organ and bass play solo for 4 seconds before a powerful final chorus featuring at least 3 separate vocal melodies.
Breakaway - This is from the 20/20 album and is the only song that the Beach Boys' head song writer Brian Wilson wrote with his father, Murry Wilson. The song has hundreds of vocal parts in it and literally every moment of the song has vocal harmonies with all 6 members of the band. If you ever hear this song A Cappella it is even more amazing than the version released on the record. This song is the most complicated and beautiful vocal performance the band ever did. I imagine that this song probably took as long or longer than Good Vibrations to finish. I am still in awe that this song even happened. I especially love the 2:30 mark of this song and onward where the band sings "Aahhhhhhh" high pitched behind the "break break break away" bass parts.
Wouldn't It Be Nice - This is one of the most well known Beach Boys songs and it deserves credit. The intro to this song features 2 guitars playing a pretty complex arrangement in A major with the main verse of the song switching to F major. This song is driven by 2 accordions, which is rather unusual in pop music. The bass line below the accordions is also stupendous. Brian Wilson sings the lead during the verses and the band sings vocal harmonies during the chorus and second verse of this song, rather beautifully if I can say. If you ever hear this song A Cappella it is even better than the album version of the song. The breakdown of this song is sung by Mike Love, the band's usual lead singer and is one of the finest moments in pop history.
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times - This is the song that changed my life. I had never heard a musician be so god damn honest before. It was like he was describing his very life to me and I understood the emotion he felt in his heart. I don't know how Brian Wilson was able to connect with me so perfectly, but he does just that in this song. Every moment of this song is special and moving. The music features wooden blocks, clarinets, a roaming bass guitar, harpsichord and, for the first time in a pop song ever, the theremin. This song is progressive, ahead of its time, beautiful, melancholy and still unmatched in my opinion. Also during the choruses, Brian Wilson sings 3 parts all at the same time, "Sometimes I Feel Very Sad", "Aint found the right thing I can put my heart and soul into" and "Sometimes I don't wanna be where I'm at". It doesn't get better than this.
9) I noticed on your blog that you are in a band called the Lexingtons. How has the Beach Boys influenced your band’s song writing process?
I have released 3 albums as the The Lexingtons. The first album in 2008 was called Get Lo-fi and at that time my two biggest influences were a lo-fi pop band called Rocketship and The Beach Boys. I really used this album to learn as much about recording, mixing and mastering as I could. I played every instrument on that album and I sang on every song. My biggest problem as a musician is that I am not even 20% as good at singing as Brian Wilson and the rest of the Beach Boys are. The only song on that album that really sounds anything like the Beach Boys is the very last song " Sailing On An Ocean". I borrowed some of the chords of that song from Carl Wilson's solo song "Heaven". I was feeling sad when I wrote that song and came out with some nice lyrics that I am still proud of. "When I notice half the things you do, I always wonder why I turn to you. No one makes me feel the way you do. I start to lose faith every time I turn to you." I tried very hard to emulate the vocals of the Beach Boys. I did my own vocal harmonies on this song and I must have recorded 200 vocal tracks on that song. My computer crashed multiple times recording it.
My next 2 albums were released at the same time in 2010, Choose Choice and Isn't It Nice To Be Loved? Choose Choice was all instrumentals, so it wasn't very Beach Boys inspired, but Isn't It Nice To Be Loved? was a big tribute to the Beach Boys. Every song on that album was almost directly inspired by the Beach Boys.
I have been really busy lately running my own business, but I do have a lot of new songs written that I hope to record soon that sound even more like the best Beach Boys material. I really hope I can find some truly great singers that want to make pop music before I do it though. No one seems to love pop music the way I do around here.
10) Tell me a bit about your blog: When did you start it? How much time do you spend on it per week? Where do you get your content from?
I started Warnakey's Beach Boys Blog in 2007 in my dorm room at Johnson and Wales University. At that time there was a blog called "Silverphial.blogspot.com" that I used to read every single day. Silverphial would post bootlegs of Beach Boys and Beatles albums and studio sessions and I just loved listening to their unreleased material that most people had never heard before. It felt so cool and I appreciated the Beach Boys in a way I never had before. I decided after a few days of reading his blog to start my own blog exclusively about the Beach Boys. A couple weeks after I started my blog, his disappeared. To this day I have no idea why his blog was taken down, or if he just chose to take it down himself. But for 5 years my blog has been up and I have tried to update it as much as my life would allow me. I would say that today I spend about 1 hour a week on it, but back in 2007 and 2008 I would spend up to 15 or 20 hours a week working on it. I used to make my own material and think up unique things to post, but today I just post when something urgent hits me. I still have hundreds of bootleg albums to post and hundreds more that I have to reupload because they were taken down. It makes me feel bad when my links are removed because I know people want them, but I have lost some of the stuff I posted over the years (because of computer crashes, etc) but I will eventually find the time to post EVERYTHING that I have on my computer and on CDs. I really do have a lot of material that I need to get around to posting, as well as reviewing the Beach Boys new album.
Finally, I get my material from friends. People email me saying "Want to post this on your blog?" or "Hey, here is a link to a Beach Boys bootleg I found" or sometimes people even give me CDs in real life that I rip onto my computer and upload. I get stuff from all over the world, but I just post links to stuff. I don't host anything and I never have and never will. That has helped me out legally, but it has hurt me because the sites where people store stuff (mediafire, megaupload, rapidshare, etc.) remove them or, in the case of megaupload, the entire site disappears. So keeping track of the stuff that is NOT on my blog (the links) becomes very difficult for me.
It would be nice if someone would help me with that aspect of the blog. But as far as the words themselves, I have written every word on that blog and anything anyone else writes is always in quotes.