WATCH: Music students recreate Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ album

live 23/05/2020

Classic songs are classics for a reason - they never get old, and are loved by generation after generation equally. A group of music students in Orange County, California have proved just that by covering the iconic Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. 

The 1966 album is widely regarded as a milestone release for its innovation and influence on fellow musicians, making it a hugely daunting task to remake - especially for a group of aspiring young musicians.

"Pet Sounds is not your typical Los Rios Rock School album," noted the school's Director of Curriculum, Clinton Haycraft. "It doesn't give the kids a whole lot of opportunity to show off as individuals. There are no shredding guitar solos, no belted high notes or raspy screams, no heavy drum fills. It demands another brand of musicianship - one that emphasizes dynamics, nuance, blending, and tone."

Watch the Los Rios Rock School's renditions of classic tracks 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' and 'God Only Knows' below.

The Beach Boys' original took over a year to make with frontman Brian Wilson famously obsessing over every intricate detail - but the students of Los Rios Rock School's version came together in three months. 

The group held weekly rehearsals across the three months, with vocalists and instrumentalists initially working on their parts separately. "Eventually we brought the singers to the stage and everyone rehearsed together," Haycraft said. "Having six instrumental players and 13 vocalists all amplified on stage together and trying to make sure they all heard themselves and each other was the most difficult logistical aspect of rehearsals."

They then recorded the album in a single day in-studio. 

Student Anna Moellenhoff found that the Beach Boys' music challenged her as a vocalist, calling the project "very exciting" but "sometimes difficult,"

"During those times when it was difficult, I was learning how to control my voice and not overpower the rest of the track," the 18-year-old explained. "It took time but I loved every step of the way because it made me into a better singer."

Fellow student Lily Kelso had the same thoughts, adding that chemistry among the students aided the quality of the songs: "The coolest part about getting closer with everyone was to see it reflected in the music," she revealed. "Bit by bit songs started coming together as we learned more unified vowels, got used to the Beach Boys sound, and found our rhythm with the band. The process was slow but extremely rewarding."

You can listen to the rest of Los Rios Rock School covers on this YouTube playlist.