Best Coast's Bob Bruno On Working With Jon Brion and Why Everyone Wants To Sing About California
Every few years there's a new it girl, and Best Coast's leader, Bethany Cosentino, is one of them. That's not to say the talented California native, who has a new line of clothing to her name, is an empty vessel who just happens to play guitar. Cosentino and her multi-instrumental partner in crime, Bob Bruno, released the rough-edged pop gem Crazy For You in 2010, and just followed it up with the Jon Brion-produced ode to all things California, The Only Place.
Best Coast will be hitting the Granada Theater tonight, and we were fortunate enough to catch up with Bruno to discuss his role in carrying out another's artistic vision, growing up in a multi-cultural environment and the pressure of following up a hit record.
The last couple of years have seemed to be really busy for Best Coast. You've toured a ton and now you've just released your second album. Do you enjoy that type of busy schedule? Actually, we took a good bit of time off from touring while we recorded, so we've made it to where we're having a lot of fun, really. It's been exciting to get back out and play the new songs, especially since we have some new people playing with us. We'd been playing the songs off the first record forever, so this is great. We're also trying to make our tour schedule a little less crazy and put some more off-time between dates now, but everything's great this way.
What about California makes people want to sing about it? Beth and I we were both born and raised in Los Angeles, so it's special because there are so many environments you can find yourself in an hour from L.A. You can get to the mountains, the ocean or the desert in an hour. For us, it's the ideal place, and especially for a guy like me who doesn't like rain and cloudy days. There's something about those kinds of days that effect my mood, but it's easy for me to get up and get things done when it's sunny outside.
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OK, that's the environmental aspect of the state, but there must be some sort of vibe or aura present that inspires so many Californian artists like you, right? Yeah, there is. Culturally, it's really diverse and when you grow up there, you get to really experience a wide range of cultures, especially if you grow up in L.A. proper, like I did. My area was predominantly Chinese and Mexican people, but when I went to school, it was everyone together. You learn to appreciate different things and get into a lot of different things.
What's it like for you to musically carry out someone else's lyrical and artistic vision? It's really fun. I like Bethany's songs a lot, so I get excited when she sends me a new one. I just try to listen to what she has to say and try to get the tone of the song and then I do my best to enhance and refine what she wants to do with the song overall. I'm just trying to serve the songs as best as I can.
So much of Best Coast's music feels happy and bouncy. Do you envision a day where you release an album full of morose, dark and dreary songs with music to match? Well, there are some pretty dark and slower songs on this new one, and I like playing both sides of Bethany's songs. You know, whatever she's into, I'm into.
For the new album, did you both start from scratch, or did you have a ton of songs in the pipeline, ready to record? "Up All Night" and "Dreaming My Life Away" were previously recorded in really stripped down versions, and Beth did a lot of writing for the other songs in the various breaks we had in touring. Ultimately, we had all the songs basically ready before we got into the studio.
Did the expectations of putting out a successful follow-up album get to either of you at all? Bethany had a lot more anxiety than I did about that. I wasn't worried at all, because I knew we were going to Capitol Studios to have Jon Brion record the album, so that's a big confidence booster. Jon's really particular about who he works with, and he usually doesn't work with many bands, since he usually works more with individual artists. That was a big confidence boost for us.
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