Best Coast Cooler

Posted July 20, 2011 in Music Features


Of the generation of (predominantly West Coast American) indie-pop bands fixated on reimaging the sound of surf-pop through their own sandy-shoed, weed-hazed filter, Bethany Cosentino is undeniably the queen of the beach. Already noted for her ectoplasmic contribution to drone-rock duo Pocahaunted and her early fuzz-drenched 7” singles as Best Coast, Cosentino strolled into the pop pantheon with last year’s Crazy For You.

If her surf-inflected garage rock didn’t wash you into the ocean first time around (soulless drones like me might find hang-ups in her often simplistic rhymes and none-too-varied subject matter), her current iTunes session has done pretty neat work of turning what should be a fans-only release into an essential v1.5 document of just what the Best Coast project is capable of. Stripped back, Cosentino’s voice has become less detached, and more unmatched, and her arrangements more complex.

She’s nailed the music. What about the persona? Synonymous with her pet cat, Snacks, smoking js, and her fellow beach-monarch boyfriend, Wavves’ Nathan Williams, I take to her Twitter to find unhitherto-explored aspects of one of America’s burgeoning rock stars. Gold: someone once said i was the “indie sheryl crow” they meant it as an insult. thank you to that person, because that is the BEST compliment.”

Hello. Is this the indie Sheryl Crow?

The wh… Oh yes. This is me.

You were just tweeting about that song she did with Stevie Nicks. Have you listened to the new Stevie Nicks album yet?

I have not! I’ve heard the single and another song off it.

It’s sitting on my desk. I’m afraid to put it on.

Yeah, I don’t really listen to a lot of the newer stuff that people I idolize put out. I don’t set myself up with any expectations.

What do you think Stevie Nicks would think of that Pocahaunted cover of The Chain you used to do?

She would probably be very confused. As was I when I made that.

Did you just make a video for Our Deal? That’s my favourite song off the album.

Yeah, we just did that. The video is being directed by Drew Barrymore.

What? Wow.

Yeah. MTV is doing this thing where they pair a celebrity and a band. Because MTV America doesn’t play music, obviously, just bullshit reality shows, they’re trying to reimagine the music video by doing these videos and, yeah, putting them on between bullshit reality shows. Drew Barrymore is kind of a friend of mine. We met at one of my shows a couple of months ago, and she’s become a good friend.

The concept of the video is a story with two different gangs fighting against each other, kids in the opposing gangs are in love, the classic love story kind of thing. It looks really cool.

Do you take making videos as seriously as you would have as an actress, or is it just an opportunity to goof around?

I think making music videos is fine. I’m a terrible actress… I did act a little bit as a kid, but I think it’s a lot easier to do that kind of stuff when you’re a kid because you’re really excited about everything. Whenever we do music videos and the director’s like ‘LOOK MORE EXCITED!’, I suck at that. I think it’s funny though, there’s really nowhere besides YouTube to even put music videos up anymore. So making a music video is sometimes, like, is this even going to be seen by many people? But it’s still fun to put your music to something that’s visually interesting, and I know a lot of people still care about music videos.

That Adult Swim video [Gone Again] was ace.

I didn’t really have anything to do with that one. I just came up with the idea, and saw maybe the first take and thought it was cute and different from anything else that we’d done. Our other videos have been goofy, but I think the Our Deal video is going to be like nothing we’ve ever, ever done.

Your iTunes session is just out. You recorded it in East West Studios where Pet Sounds was made, right? Are there any remnants of Brian Wilson lying around, or is it totally modernized now?

There’s a ton of different studios inside that building, so we recorded, actually, in the Frank Sinatra room, where he’d record whenever he was in Los Angeles. That was pretty epic in itself. The room they recorded Pet Sounds in is one of the less modernized studios. The lounge area of the studio looks like a chain restaurant or something, they have these huge flat screen TVs and all that stuff, but the studios themselves are so pretty and old-school. If you buy the session on iTunes you get this like 40 minute interview session with me – why you would want to listen to me talk for that long I don’t know – we did that in the Pet Sounds studio which was crazy, just sitting in the room where one of the greatest records of all time was produced.

That studio used to also be used for recording TV themes.

Woah, that I did not know

Oh yeah. Hawaii 5-0 and all. Which TV show should Best Coast record the theme for?

We are big TV fans, for sure. I think we’d be excited to record the theme for any TV show unless it was something really, really terrible. Which I suppose is most TV.

What are you watching at the minute?

I’m watching the Food Network. These people are cooking shrimp barbecue sticks.

Stop, I’m really hungry.

I’m really hungry too. These look appetizing.

I know from other interviews you don’t like the sea as much as maybe somebody named Best Coast would, but I’d like to ask some beach-side advice from you anyway. Our beaches are pretty are shitty. They’re all rocky, and we’re a really unattractive race with our clothes off. How can we make our beach vibes better?

When I think of the beach vibe, I really do think of California. The ocean is, you know, the biggest thing in the world and there are beaches everywhere, but if it doesn’t have palm trees and all those California-specific things it doesn’t make sense to me.

Don’t ask me though. I’m a total poser when it comes to the things I sing about, I hardly ever get to go to the beach at all being on the opposite of LA.

Have you ever been sailing?

I hate boats! I am horrified by them. I have been sailing before though, yeah. My mom’s boss when I was growing up had a boat, and sometimes we would take it out and I just got sea-sick. In Europe when you have to take the ferry places, I just get on and get as drunk as physically possible so I don’t have to think about what’s going on.

So should I ask you about the second album, or is it still in the embryonic stages?

It’s very much in the embryonic stages. People have been asking me about my second record since the week my first one came out, which was funny because to me I just like to wait and do things when it feels organic. I don’t want to go make a second one right away. It’s been a slow process, we’ve basically been on tour for almost consistently two years. This is the longest period of time I’ll have off in the last forever. It’s 5 weeks and it’s blowing my mind. I’ve been writing a lot though, I hole myself up so I’ll have a lot of stuff prepared. We’re aiming to record in October, but we have no idea where we’re going to do it, or who we’re going to do it with, but it’s definitely on the radar.

It’s going to have more of a Sheryl Crow vibe though, right?


Is it time to re-evaluate Alanis Morissette?

I was a huge Alanis Morissette fan. I got to meet her through my cousin – a lot of my family worked in the music industry, and my cousin worked for Maverick Records, the label she was first on – so I got taken to meet her, and it was the most excited I’d ever been. I was 11 and really angsty, and she came out and was the coolest person in the world. I remember the CD was parental advisory so I wasn’t really allowed to listen to it. But I did anyway.

My mother’s mad for tattoos, and she’s trying to buy me one. I don’t think I’m the kind of dude who could pull off tattoos. Tell me about your tattoos and maybe it’ll change my perspective.

Your mom really wants you to get one? You should get one. My dad has a lot of tattoos, and I think that when I was growing up it wasn’t a weird thing. Especially in Los Angeles where everybody’s a freak. Everybody had their own style, you see hundreds of people walking around with tattoos so it’s not a big deal, or a strange thing. When we’re on tour in, like, Germany, people are staring at me and Ali, our drummer, because she has a shitload of tattoos too. You’re this weird person because you have art on your body.

I think that knowing my dad had some was something made it cool because he did it, and he was a musician, he’s the cool dad with tattoos who plays music.

I’ve always just instinctively gone out and gotten tattoos, I don’t really think about it, I don’t have a whole lot of backstory behind most of my tattoos, for the most part I saw a picture or had an idea for one and literally got in my car and went and got it done that day. And then I deal with it, like, ‘OK, this is on my body for the rest of my life.’

I have a couple that are really shitty and embarrassing. I got my first one when I was 15, I just went to this dude’s house that had a tattoo gun in it and was like, ‘oh, give me this heart with wings on it’, and now I’m 25 and am like, ‘what the fuck was I thinking getting that tattoo?’. So my advice for getting your first tattoo is: don’t get a heart with wings on it, and you’ll be cool.

I’ll get a Best Coast tattoo then. I’ll get, like, the chorus of When I’m With You down my spinal column.

Good idea. I just met a girl, a fan the other day at one of our shows and she had a Best Coast tattoo. To me that’s just insane. We’re such a new band, it’s crazy to me that there are people walking around with Best Coast tattoos. I don’t even have a Best Coast tattoo and I AM Best Coast.

Best Coast play their first Irish show at this year’s Electric Picnic

Words Daniel Gray


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