Raiders frontman Mark Lindsay divulges debut songwriting collaboration with Beach Boy Brian Wilson
Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders, reflects on his newfound friendship and creative partnership with Brian Wilson, the musical genius behind the Beach Boys, in an exclusive interview below.
During Lindsay’s heyday as songwriter, producer, and Raiders’ studio wizard, he experienced 17 Top 40 pop singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart between 1965–1972. When I spoke to the multihyphenate artist via telephone in advance of the Happy Together ’60s package tour spearheaded by Flo and Eddie of the Turtles, he had already undergone five interviews earlier in the day. Nevertheless, Lindsay’s enthusiasm remained infectious.
He certainly had a lot to be excited about, as Life Out Loud, his first studio album of new material since Video Dreams appeared with little fanfare in 1996, was receiving rave reviews. Co-produced and co-written with the Doughboys’ Gar Francis, the record hearkens back to the artist’s garage rock past.
Keep reading as Lindsay discusses the importance of musical spontaneity and why he wasn’t friendly with the longtime Beach Boys leader back in the ’60s. Surprisingly, the down to earth, articulate rock ’n’ roller shares considerable similarities with Wilson. Lindsay also sheds light on their first collaboration, written during the Beach Boys’ critically acclaimed That’s Why God Made the Radio sessions.
The Mark Lindsay Interview
I stumbled upon a Twitter photo of you and Brian Wilson taken during the sessions for No Pier Pressure. Did you hang with the Beach Boys creative mastermind in the ‘60s?
It’s funny — I never hung with Brian until recently. I was always so in awe of the man. For so many years I thought, ‘Wow man, hanging with Brian would be like hanging with Elvis!’ [laughs]. I always hung around with his brothers, Dennis and Carl, and the other guys.
The man is a genius, there’s no question about it. He may not sing like he did in the ’60s, but he still thinks like he did back in the ’60s. He still has it…all those harmonies in his head just like he did. There’s only one Brian.
We collaborated on an unreleased song during the sessions for That’s Why God Made the Radio , the first Beach Boys album of original material since Summer in Paradise arrived 20 years before. Incidentally, my good friend Terry Melcher produced the latter album.
It’s the first song we’ve written together. I’m not sure what the title will ultimately be because after the original rough sketch, the song became part of another, larger composition, so there may be a couple of additional writers on it. If I tell you the lyrics, I’ll let the cat out of the bag [laughs]. Let’s just say it’s a love song about a boy and a girl. I haven’t recorded any vocals at this point, but anything is possible. Brian really likes my voice.
I’m not sure if the track will make it to Brian’s next album, but it’s possible you will see a Brian Wilson / Mark Lindsay collaboration in the future. Quite frankly, I don’t see it becoming a Beach Boys recording.
I went to a lot of the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary concerts, mainly in Florida. During the summer of 2013 I was out on the road with the Happy Together tour but luckily I was in New Jersey on a break between my concerts. Brian was in town doing some solo shows with fellow Beach Boys Al Jardine and David Marks, so I got to see him at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. We still stay in touch.
Musically, how important is spontaneity?
Very important. When you get so into the music on stage that you forget where you’re at, and you come off stage and you have no idea what happened — that’s happened to me maybe 25 times in all the thousands of shows I’ve done. Recording Life Out Loud  with the Doughboys was just like that [available at CD Baby or digitally via Amazon or iTunes].
When the tape was over, I had no idea what I had done. It was just all spontaneous. The rough, basic tracks were so good we kept those as the master and just overdubbed additional instruments and backing vocals on top of them without remixing [overdubs, mixing, and mastering were completed in five days].
It’s not perfect. You can hear guitar leakage or me talking to the band in the background. The vocals aren’t perfect either. I didn’t want to redo them again because they’re so honest. There’s something very real about the guys playing and me singing.
It’s almost like the listener is in the studio with me or being privy to a live concert as far as I’m concerned. I thought it better to be honest than polish it up and make it sound like everything else today. Whether people like it or not, that’s up to them. All I can say is that it’s very real and I like it [laughs].
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