In theaters June 5, Love & Mercy centers on the life of Brian Wilson, the creative leader of the Beach Boys and one of music’s most revered artists. During this week’s press conference for Love & Mercy, I asked director Bill Pohlad about effectively capturing Wilson’s iconic (and inspiring) Pet Sounds Sessions.
“Honestly, when you have the ‘chore’ of working with Brian Wilson’s music for three to four years, it’s not really a chore,” says Pohlad, who hired real musicians to play the Wrecking Crew, “And that particular part of it, trying to recreate the studio, was just a dream come true. I give a lot of credit to Paul (Dano) who was able to take the Pet Sounds Sessions and kind of (feel) how Brian works in the studio.”
While John Cusack’s work as Brian Wilson delves into the singer-songwriter’s relationship with Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) and abusive therapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), it’s Dano’s task to convey Wilson’s musical journey through Pet Sounds and the uncompleted Smile projects (Wilson finally re-recorded Smile and released it, to much acclaim, in 2004).
Thus, embodying Wilson during the Pet Sounds Sessions was an absolute must. “It felt so alive in that room to be in the studio where Brian recorded Pet Sounds with people playing that music,” said Dano. “It was pretty easy for us to delude ourselves and feel like we were there. A lot of credit goes to just creating the atmosphere for everything to come alive.”
To hear Bill Pohlad and Paul Dano discuss recreating The Pet Sounds Sessions, check out the Soundcloud bar below:
Love & Mercy was co-written by Oren Moverman (“The Messenger,” “Rampart”) and Michael Alan Lerner.