Beach Boys’ Jeffrey Foskett talks ‘Pet Sounds,’ 35 years in the band, and upcoming PA and NY shows
When we caught The Beach Boys back in October at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, they put on an incredible show that felt like summertime “Fun, Fun, Fun” despite that fall chill in the air.
Now that the summer is actually here, we caught up with guitarist/vocalist Jeffrey Foskett to talk about his time with The Beach Boys and their current tour with The Temptations, which comes to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in New York on Friday, July 15 and the Sands Bethlehem Event Center on Sunday, July 17. We also discussed the 50th anniversary of “Pet Sounds,” the recording of their latest album, and how he was originally asked to join the iconic pop rock group.
NEPA SCENE: Many people viewed it as a huge oversight that The Beach Boys were not invited to play the original Woodstock festival, yet now you have not only celebrated a 50th anniversary show on the Woodstock grounds at Bethel Woods, but you are also going to be sharing that same stage with The Temptations there this summer. What does it mean to you as a performer to be a part of playing those hallowed grounds with such an all-star show?
JEFFREY FOSKETT: Woodstock, along with Live Aid, were the two most seminal events in popular music history. I was very proud to be a member of The Beach Boys band during Live Aid, and it was equally cool to perform at the Woodstock grounds on The Beach Boys’ 50th Reunion Tour. It is an honor to perform there this year and to share the stage with The Temptations. The Temps are great guys with a super catalog of music to perform – and they have the best outfits in the business!
NS: “Pet Sounds,” which has been recognized as one of the greatest albums of all time, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It has to be quite an amazing experience to recreate those incredible songs night after night.
JF: “Pet Sounds” is my favorite LP of all time. It is such an honor to perform the songs from that great record night after night. I am often asked if it becomes tiring to sing the same songs nightly, but my answer is, “I am such a huge fan of the music that it is a joy, not a chore.” This is all I have ever wanted to do, and God has let me live my dream for the past 35 years. To use your adjectives, it is amazing and incredible.
NS: You have played with several of the music industry’s biggest names, including Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr of The Beatles, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and even Roy Orbison. How were you originally approached with the offer by Beach Boys frontman Mike Love to play with them?
JF: Michael came to enjoy dinner with a friend at the 1129 Restaurant in Santa Barbara, where I performed with my college band The Reverie Rhythm Rockers five nights a week in the bar (a separate building). One of the bartenders came up to me and told me that Mike Love of The Beach Boys was having dinner in the restaurant section. I literally jumped up and went in to say hello. I introduced myself and told him I was a big fan and asked if he would like to come back and hear our band perform. He politely declined, as he said, “I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t smoke cigarettes” (and, in those days, every bar was filled with cig smoke). I said, “OK, thanks for talking and nice to meet you.”
I had a tab at the restaurant, and I told his waitress to put his dinner on my tab. He came back into the bar area to say thanks, and he listened for 30 or so minutes. We spoke briefly on my break and he said, “I’ll have my manager phone you.” Sure enough, his then manager called within a couple of days and asked my band to tour with Mike on his solo record, “Looking Back with Love.” We obviously jumped at the chance and toured several dates with Michael. He and I got on well and he liked the way I sang, so he asked me to fill in for Carl Wilson while Carl was out promoting his solo record. I’m grateful that Michael asked me, and I’m grateful that Carl thought highly enough of me to keep me on when he came back.
NS: You have been with The Beach Boys for 35 years now. You must have a few favorite songs to play live.
JF: I really enjoy every song that we perform, but I do like singing the leads on “Good Vibrations,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “Darlin’.” As I said, I enjoy every song, and Michael changes the set list every night, so one never knows what gem may appear. I also love “Kiss Me Baby,” “When I Grow Up,” “The Warmth of the Sun,” and “All This Is That.”
NS: You had quite the helping hand in the production and recording process of The Beach Boys’ latest album, “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” which was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary tour. How was the recording process during that album, to finally have all of the surviving members back in the studio together and to not only witness it firsthand, but to be a big part of it as well?
JF: To make that record and have it come to fruition was a ton of work. I would fly to Chicago to record the demos at Joe Thomas’ studio every Tuesday-Thursday for five or six weeks in a row. Joe felt that the more complete the demos were (with vocals and instruments), the easier it would be to present to all of the guys. The song “That’s Why God Made the Radio” is a really great song and a solid recording. That was the first song that was played for the principal members, and I think they all really liked it. After that, it became easier to convince everyone that releasing that album was a good idea.
Then it was a matter of choosing the remainder of the material. I like all of the songs on that record, and it was a real labor of love and an honor to be so involved in the recording of it. I really like that all of the guys came together to make this record.
NS: Having just played PBS’s Memorial Day show to honor our troops, how rewarding was it being part of such a special event?
JF: I am a big supporter of our troops and first responders. I can’t say enough great things about them, and I can’t thank them enough. It was a great honor for me to be a part of that performance honoring our country and our troops.
Michael Love and I visited Walter Reed Hospital the day after Memorial Day, and that became a watershed moment in my life. Seeing firsthand what some of those soldiers have sacrificed and given to protect our freedoms is life changing. Sharing time with Gary Sinise and seeing how involved he and his foundation are in honoring and helping our troops and first responders changed me even further. I encourage everyone to visit Gary’s website, garysinisefoundation.org, to see how hard he works and what his foundation and the volunteers that work there actually accomplish.
NS: What can concertgoers expect with these upcoming shows with The Beach Boys and The Temptations?
JF: It’s always fun sharing the stage with The Temptations. Their catalog of songs, as well as The Beach Boys’ catalog of songs, are packed with hits, from “My Girl” to “Surfer Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” to “I Get Around,” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” to “Good Vibrations” – hit after hit. The show is super fun, and the songs are really great! As I said before, the Temps have the best wardrobe in the business (and great dance moves, too)!
Location: Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (200 Hurd Rd., Bethel, New York)
Date: Friday, July 15
Time: Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
Location: Sands Bethlehem Event Center (77 Sands Blvd., Bethlehem)
Date: Sunday, July 17
Time: Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.
by Corey Kime
Corey Kime graduated from Lackawanna College with a degree in communications and has played bass in local bands like ASHFALL.