How many times have you caught yourself singing your heart out along to new artists like a dramatic teenager? My answer would be not many, but that was only until I found Best Coast one a hot summer day at the pool. And I haven't being able to stop listening ever since.
Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno make music that combine all their influences into something that reminds you of many different phases of your life: from the afternoons you spent listening to the Ramones and got yourself a weird haircut to the 90s when you thought rock’n’roll was totally a girl thing. It's for when you found out that nothing will compare to the harmony of the girl groups from the 60s to the time of your life when you decided that nothing else could ever be as genius as the Beatles and Beach Boys’ albums - yes, Best Coast makes music that powerful.
Although part of the charm of the band comes from the subjects they deal with, every day topics that are current in the life of any young adult; boys, weed, boredom, loneliness and… cats. And as soon as you see, talk and read about Bethany, you get it.
This 23 year old from California is kind of girl next door that everyone would love to have around - or perhaps it's just the succinct way that she expresses naïvety and passion that makes listeners nostalgic for that past part of themselves and their youth that's often just floating under the surface of the present.
So it really didn’t come as a surprise when Crazy For You, Best Coast's debut album, arrived into Billboard’s Top 40. It didn’t matter that none of the songs we loved in previous releases made it onto the debut, or that the new tracks sounded way cleaner than the super fuzzy lo-fi tunes that she had put out beofre; it all just proved that "our girl" dared to make the move that people like MGMT were too afraid (or too arty) to make.
Whilst most of us give in to our daily jobs and slowly give up on our dreams, it can be good to get home and remember a simpler time; when all you had to worry about was how to hide the smell of weed from your parents and find more time to moon over teen heartbreakers. And with this, we say, long live to cats, weeds, boys and everything that makes Best Coast produce some of the most inspiring music around.
First of all, I have to say that you are the artist that I've listened the most this year, even though I don’t know much about you. What should we all know about Bethany Cosentino and something we shouldn’t?
I have really bad social anxiety. I love my cat more than anything. I'm allergic to gluten. I grew up in LA, and I don't like leaving LA.
When did you form your first band and what did you play?
The first band I was ever really in was a band called Pocahaunted which started when I was about 18. I played guitar and sang. I've been playing music since I was a kid though - that was just really the first band I was ever in, everything up until then was stuff I did on my own, or just stuff I messed around with.
Are you inspired by any female 'rockstars'?
Stevie Nicks is like my number one female influence. I also have to say Hayley Williams, the singer from Paramore - is suchhhh a badass. I really truly like that band, and I think she's such a talented young girl.
What was the best decade in your opinion - which one (if any) would you prefer to live in?
The 60s seemed pretty amazing, but I wouldn't know because I didn't live in them. I'm pretty content with living in the 2000s. It's a weird era, but I know nothing else. The 90s were pretty cool too. I wore a lot of really cool outfits.
When did you decide you wanted to have a solo project like Best Coast? What were your first references when you created it?
Best Coast isn't really a solo project. I mean, it's something I started on my own, and I write all of the songs--but Bobb is a huge part of this band and I wouldn't be able to do anything without him. I just really was hungry to make music after moving back to LA after spending almost a year in NY. I just made music that felt really natural to make. I didn't try to make it sound like anything specific. I had ideas in mind of what I wanted things to sound like, but I basically just sat there and wrote a bunch of songs, and was like "oh ok, I guess this is what my band sounds like now"
How and when did Bobb Bruno join it?
I wrote Bobb an email and I was like "I wanna start a band, I wrote some songs, do you want to play on them?" and he was like "yeah sure send them to me" so I emailed him "sun was high (so was I)" which was the first song I wrote as best coast, and he was like "I love this, this is the only kind of music I want to play" so from there on I just kept writing and sending Bobb songs via email and then we finally got together one day and brainstormed ideas and started recording. It all happened really fast, and once we started, we just never really stopped.
How are the two of you on the stage? Do the songs sound a lot different from the recordings?
Well since the recordings are just Bobb and I, it's hard to translate that to a live setting, because obviously we each can't play like 15 different things at once. I mean if anything, it's just more stripped down live, and there are no background vocals, because I do all of those myself on the recordings. I dunno, I think it's pretty boring when you go see a band and they sound exactly like the record, so I think it's fine that we sound different live. And we just act like ourselves, normal weirdos.
I read somewhere that you said you wanted your music to share the Beatles' type drums, the Ramones guitars with vocals like Phil Spector - but who's your favorite band/artist of all time?
The Beach Boys are definitely my favorite band ever.
Were all the noises and badly recorded instruments in your songs intentional? Will we have songs with that type of “production” on the album?
haha, I don't really know what "noises" or "badly recorded instruments" means. I mean prior to recording in a real studio, we did everything in Bobb's bedroom, but we made everything sound the way we did on purpose. I don't think anything sounds "bad" it just sounds less produced than our record does. Obviously, we were in a real studio, with someone else working as the producer, and Bobb and I just got to be the players--it was a lot easier in a way because we got to just work really hard, and then let someone else do all the "hard" stuff.
Your album doesn’t feature any of the old tracks that you've already released; do you think you'll re-record them in the future to give it a proper release, and, maybe, a studio sound?
Nah, I really have no desire to do that. I know people want me to, but I don't think it's necessary. The songs that were released then mean something to me, they mean something to Bobb, and they mean something to the people who own them. There is no need to go in and change what they mean, or change the way they sound--bands grow up, people change, production changes--and that’s what happened to us. I have no desire to go back and revisit stuff we did a year ago.
Are boys your favorite song subjects? Have they been treating you right? *eyebrow wiggle*
They’re not my favorite subject, but they're an easy thing for me to write about. I think relationship problems are really relatable for most people. I’m trying to stray away from writing about boys and love, because I’m sick of people saying "it's all she can write about" because it's not--and besides, the idea of writing about love and heartbreak and all that crap is heavily inspired by the music of the 50s and 60s that I listen to. I mean every early Beatles song is about love, no one gave them a hard time...
What's your favorite spot on the west coast?
Are cats your favorite animal?