Best Coast is a true California band- and the mastermind behind it all, Bethany Cosentino, wants to make sure you know it. Her songs- the few we’ve heard leaked (there aren’t many and she has yet to record her debut album) are full of weed and sun-influences and hazy summer jams. But it’s always summer in California! (Exactly). Bethany is brazenly honest about her somewhat “uncool” tastes (Friends, Tyra Banks) and her love of the green monster (pot). But this frankness makes for a great interview. I think Bethany is the real deal… Continue reading for weed stories and song inspirations, NYC woes and to find out about Best Coast’s car bumper sticker. (Oh, and for info on Nathan from Wavves and some mp3’s)
Tell me about your background. Are you from LA?
Yeah I was born and raised in LA. My parents are both from the midwest, and they moved out here in their early twenties because my dad is a musician and he wanted to come to LA for his career. My mom followed him out here and then they got married, and then I showed up!
How did you start playing music?
Like I said, my dad is a musician, so I’ve basically been playing music/been around music my entire life. I started playing guitar and writing songs when I was like 14–and I guess I just never stopped. Obviously as I got older, and as my interests changed, the music i was making changed–and i guess eventually i just ended up here doing this.
Why did you start Best Coast?
I moved to NY for a year to go to college, but it really didn’t work out and I couldn’t stand living there. I really wanted to play music while living there, but I was so uninspired and lazy. When i finally decided to leave NY, i made the decision that i was going to start playing music again as soon as I got back to California. I was only home for like three days and then I recorded the first best coast song which was “Sun Was High (So Was I)” in my room at my mom’s house. I listened to so much 50s-60s music when i lived in NY because it made me nostalgic for home, so I decided that I wanted to make music that kind of resembled that sound.
Is that your main project now?
Yeah this is the only project i am currently doing.
What about Pocahaunted?
I basically quit Pocahaunted after i moved to NY. it was too difficult to be in a band when i was 3,000 miles away from the other member. Pocahaunted was fun while it lasted, but i feel like i changed a lot when i moved away, and i wanted to play music that sort of embodied that change, so i decided to start my own thing.
What school in NY did you go to? What were you studying? Are you back in school in LA? If not, do you have a job?
I was going to The New School in NY. I went for Creative Writing. I am not currently going to school in LA, and I don’t think I’m going to go back ever. College just wasn’t really the thing for me, and I don’t feel like I need to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn the shit they teach you in college. I went to school for 2 years, I feel like that’s enough. I don’t currently have a day job. I sell clothes and stuff on ebay to make extra cash.
Are you part of any particular “scene” out there?
The stoner scene?? haha, i don’t really know. i feel like LA has this really open armed policy about music and you can kind of just play any type of music and people will welcome you. like i don’t think in LA there are ever shows that stick to one type of genre. I feel like everyone is kind of into their own thing, and there is a larger community feel that we all feel a part of. i don’t know if that makes any sense, but i guess what i’m trying to say is that i don’t really feel like i fall into any particular “scene” i just kind of feel like i’m a part of it all.
What do you like to do for fun?
I’m a pretty serious homebody, so some of my favorite things to do are just sit at home and watch tv, haha. i spend a lot of time working on music, and when i’m not doing that i’m pretty much just hanging out with people on my couch, smoking weed, and watching daytime TV or some TV show on DVD. i feel like when I was younger I was kind of a party girl, and now i’m over that phase and I just want to chill out.
Where do you get your inspiration?
i don’t really feel like I seek out inspiration from anything particular, i think it kind of just happens on its own. right now i’m just really inspired by the whole 60s beachy aesthetic, and obviously California. i don’t really sit there and try to find inspiration before i write a song, i just kind of go for it, and then later on look back and think “oh that song was probably inspired by _____”
What’s in store for you?
The 7inch will come out, followed by…touring? Well there are 2 seven inches coming out, one on Art Fag, and the other on Group Tightener, a new label based out of Brooklyn. I’m definitely going to do an album, I’m just not 100% sure when and who is going to put it out. A tour will definitely happen as well, though probably not for a little while. I think everyone keeps forgetting I literally just started making this music, and things are kind of happening really fast, so I’m trying to slow it down a little. But I will tell you, there are some exciting times ahead with this project.
Do you like Wavves? Is he a figure that’s seen around town?
Nathan and i have been friends forever. we met when we were like 18. i think what he is doing is awesome, and i’m really happy for him.
What are your influences? Favorite bands?
I’m super influenced by 50s-60s girl groups/oldies, as well as 90s stuff like Galaxie 500 and Nirvana. my favorite band ever is The Beach Boys, and it has been since i was a kid. my dad listened to them so much when i was growing up, it’s like something i’ve been listening to for my whole life. i guess currently i’ve been listening to a lot of Connie Francis, Dusty Springfield, the Ronettes, and various other oldies groups. i don’t know much about current music, though i do know i love every mainstream rap/r&b song that is on the radio right now, especially that new Mariah Carey song.
Your parents must really support what you’re doing. Did you pick anything up from them?
Yeah, my dad is a musician. He toured with the band WAR and stuff, haha. my mom doesn’t play music, but she has always been like a free spirited artist type of person, so they are both totally supportive of what I’m doing, and they always have been. I definitely have to say that I probably got my voice from my dad, as he is an insane singer! i guess also some of the music i listen to may have stemmed from what my parents listened to when i was growing up. My dad listened to “Pet Sounds” sooo much but my mom is more of a Steely Dan chick, haha.
Do you like driving? What do you drive?
i hate driving. i try to drive as little as possible. i got so used to not driving while i lived in NY and i guess that was one of the only things i liked about living there. i drive a 2000 red ford focus. biggest piece of shit on the planet. it has no AC, and like everything inside of it is broken. i crashed it into a pole like 4 years ago so there is a giant dent on the side that people always offer to fix for me when i’m getting gas. i guess i don’t really care about it because i don’t really drive it that often. it has a Misfits sticker on the back window that has been there since i was 16, totally cool.
I read an article last year about the revival of the 60s Laurel Canyon scene (Joni, CSNY, the Byrds) and it said bands and acts like Jenny Lewis were leading that. Is that something you see, being an LA-er? Your music seems to me to be more in keeping with the style and vibes of that 60s music.
I kind of feel like my music is a different kind of 60s inspired thing. i’m more about like being on the beach, not in the mountains. don’t get me wrong, i really like that kind of older stuff, Joni Mitchell is someone I listened to soooo much while living in New York (dude the song “California” sooooooo good) i don’t really think in terms of music, that is actually a huge thing is in LA–but i feel like the fashion and the whole aesthetic of the 60s Laurel Canyon thing is huge right now.
What TV do you watch? When you go to the beach, do you sun tan or lay under an umbrella?
well my favorite shows ever are Seinfeld and The Sopranos. i basically watch TV like alllllll the fucking time. i didn’t have one when i lived in New York, and i would always be like “fuck tv!” but then i got back to California, got a nice tv and cable, and was basically like, “dude TV rules forever!” i’m also really obsessed with the Tyra Banks show. she is so crazy it rules. i watch a ton of Friends re-runs too. none of my friends like that show, so i’m always getting shit for liking it. i don’t care what anyone says, i think that show is so awesome. i also watch a ton of Food Network, omg i could talk about TV forever. i don’t go to the beach that often, but when i do go i totallllllly sun tan! i’m really into tanning which is kind of weird, so whenever i go to the beach i try really hard to work on my tan, haha. right now i have this super crazy tan on my left arm from driving. it’s like significantly darker than the rest of my body, it’s so stupid!
Where did you and Nathan meet? I’m interested in the extent of how far the musical inspirations spread- do you all write songs together? Do you sit around and jam with Pearl Harbour?
I met Nathan at a party in San Diego when i was 18. he was like friends of a friend and we all hung out. i also met Mario, the dude who does Art Fag that same night. i don’t write music with anyone else. i think it would be cool to jam with my friends who are also in bands–but i think we all kind of have our own thing going on. it’s just easier for me to write music on my own, i don’t know why–but as soon as other people become involved in the initial writing process i get a little freaked out and have a hard time coming up with stuff. it’s like super on the spot or something, haha.
Best Coast: In My Room
Best Coast: In My Room
Best Coast: Something In The Way
Best Coast: Sun Was High (So Was I)