NEWPORT, R.I. — The Beach Boys once sang a song called “Busy Doin’ Nothin.’”
That title never would apply to Mike Love, singer and group leader.
“We’re doing 130 dates this year,” Love said recently by phone. “That includes Europe and Japan. But we’re mostly in the U.S. Summer is our busiest time by far.”
The Beach Boys will be in town Saturday night at the Newport Yachting Center as part of the Newport Concert Series.
Love co-founded the band with his cousins Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson and friend Al Jardine. After a 2012 reunion tour, Love — who owns the Beach Boys name — continued performing with a different lineup. He currently tours with singer Bruce Johnston, who joined in 1964, and a seven-piece band that features Newport native John Cowsill on drums and vocals.
Love attributes the band’s long-running success to a songbook of hits, great harmonies and melodies.
“Obviously, these songs have been played on American radio forever, “ he said. “But we play in Japan and Spain, and everyone’s singing along to ‘California Girls’ or a surf song. And English is not their first language.”
At 73, Love said he continues a Transcendental Meditation regimen he began in 1968 when he studied under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. “It lowers my stress and boosts my energy,” he said.
Love touched on a variety of topics. He bristled at the idea that he is the villain in the Love/Brian Wilson story. Wilson, who battled drug abuse and has dealt with mental illness since the mid-60s, is viewed as a damaged, sensitive genius.
“I’m the one who has kept this going for more than 50 years, with help from Bruce, and Al at times,” Love said. “Dennis died young (in 1983 from drowning), Carl died (in 1998 from lung cancer). Brian has been a solo act for a long time.”
Other topics discussed during the phone interview:
•Drugs — “There was a schism in the group. The Wilsons got into the drugs, and the rest of us stayed away from the hard drugs.”
•The “Smile” album — The Beach Boys unearthed and released an official version of the 1967 classic in 2011. Brian Wilson recorded it in 1966, but in the throes of drug use and paranoia, quit the project and largely withdrew from public life for three years. Wilson recorded a new version with his band in 2004 but only bootlegs existed of the original.
“I didn’t have much to do with ‘Smile.’ I sang on it and co-wrote ‘Good Vibrations” but that was Brian with Van Dyke Parks,” Love said. “My cousin got into drugs and shelved it years ago. I’m glad it finally came out but I had little to do with it.”
•On modern music — “I have a daughter who sings with us, Ambha, starting college. She listens to a lot of rap. I tell her, ‘The beats are good but the guy’s rapping about dog(expletive).’ She likes some Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles. So we find common ground”
•On adding singer Jeffrey Foskett and his falsetto — Foskett has played with the Beach Boys but spent the last decade singing in Brian Wilson’s band. “What a voice. He sings the high parts that Brian no longer can sing or maybe won’t sing,” Love said. “I don’t know that he can’t. Jeff is fantastic.”
•On playing with John Cowsill — “John is the most talented drummer we’ve had. And he is a great singer. Part of the backbone of the group. He really cares about the music. You can’t fake that.”