Q&A + Giveaway: Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino On Writing With Weezer, That California Sound, and Why Cats Are So Big in 2010.
Best Coast isn't Bethany Cosentino's first foray into music -- before starting her most recent project, the 23-year-old flirted with the major label circuit when her teenage singer-songwriter material caught their ears, and, a few years later, she started Pocahaunted, which has released a whole slew of albums since forming in 2005. But Best Coast is certainly Cosentino's most successful project -- by far.
Understandably so: The July-released of Crazy For You is a '60s-influenced surf-rock gem, propelled by the Bobb Bruno's reverb-filled guitar sounds, drummer Ali Koehler's distant drum fills and Cosentino's distinct vocals, which make her out to be something like the stoner, slacker, and surf-obsessed world's response to Neko Case.
It's a fine release -- among the year's best, even -- centering around Cosentino's musings on the highest highs and the oft-confounding not-so-lows of the early-goings in Relationshipsville.
Factor in Cosentino's own bustling celebrity -- NME recently named her the 4th coolest person in music and our sister paper and LA just turned her into a cover girl -- and it's no surprise to hear that Best Coast's been selling out shows all around the States this summer.
That much should be expected tonight as well, as Best Coast joins up with Deerhunter for a pretty darn special pre-Fun Fun Fun Fest one-off. In advance of tonight's show, we caught up with Cosentino earlier this week over the phone to talk about her band's meteoric rise, her recent collaborations with Rivers Cuomo and her affection, along with the rest of the world, for cats in 2010.
Check it out after the jump -- where you'll also see how you can, courtesy of the Granada Theater, win free passes to tonight's show.
Want to win one of the two free pairs of tickets we've got to tonight's show? Just be among the first two people to email me, starting right now, with the words "The Best Around" in the subject line, and you're in. Good luck!
Update: Contest is over. Congrats to our winners!
You've been selling out a bunch of shows--even on these very early tours. I imagine that's got to be a great feeling.
Yeah, I mean, we've only been a band for a little over a year, so it's definitely cool to be playing a bunch of different cities and having these shows sell out. And even when they don't sell out, it's still cool--it's just awesome to be able to get all over and play places you never thought you'd go before and have people show up.
How much of this reaction has taken you off guard?
All of it. I've been playing music and performing since I was really young. And my dad's a musician, so I guess I kind of grew up somewhat around this lifestyle--it's not like I just randomly started a band one day, I've been playing music for a while--but it's just kind of weird that this band, the one out of many, is the songwriting project that took off. And nobody expected it to take off like it did. So it's been very rewarding.
Do you ever think about why this act blew up as opposed to past ones?
I've thought about it, but I realize that, if I think about it too much, I kind of go crazy because I can't really figure out what it is. Y'know, I think a lot of it is that it's very honest songs and very simple and relatable music and people just like to listen to things that they can say, 'Oh, I've experienced that before. I can relate to that to what this person is saying.' And I don't know if that's happened, but that's what I think to myself sometimes, that it's just simple, fun, relatable music.
And it's surf-y and summer-y, which, thanks to you guys and others reveling in that same realm, is super popular these days. Do you think there's any particular reason why we're reaching back to that kind of music?
I have no idea. I think it's just a popular thing, like any other genre--things get popular. But I think it's a really awesome sound and scene revisited, and all the bands that are being tagged as bands that are doing a '60s surf sound are doing it in their own ways, so it's cool sound in music right now.
And it seems very much suited to your playing style and even your vocals. Was this something accidental, stumbling upon this sound, or something you were aiming for?
Well, I try to not overthink things and try to force things to sound a specific way. Everything is very natural to me and for me in this band, and I just write really quickly and I just let whatever comes out of me comes out. I knew that I wanted to have a band that had this sort of throwback sound to the '60s and all that, but it sort of just happened, really. We had certain bands and sounds in mind, but it pretty much came out the way that it did on its own--like, we didn't sit there and try to make it sound a very specific way.
I know you're very proud of your California roots as well, so did that come into play in coming up with this surf sound?
I definitely wanted to create a band and a sound that had a very California vibe to it, because, like you said, I'm very proud of being fro California and I love California and I wanted to start and band and have a sound and a record that is good for people who are scattered all over the world, where maybe it's not sunny and there's not palm trees and beaches and all the stereotypical things that everyone thinks of when they think of Southern California. I wanted to create those elements for people who don't experience those things in their own daily lives.
And even the album art kind of looks like a post-card.
Yeah! There's lots of different little messages going on in that artwork.
Is that your cat on the album cover?
Cats are pretty big these days.
Cats are sort of big this year!
Really big this year.
I think they're great. I think people are just now realizing how great they are. Cats are really funny. I love all animals, but cat videos on the Internet make me kind of the happiest out of all pet videos. I don't really know why cats are so big this year. But I think it's interesting and something that they deserve. They're cool guys. [Laughs.] I'm excited for them.
We talked a little bit about the whole whirlwind of your past year, but I also just read that you just wrapped up a studio collaboration with Weezer. I imagine that stuff like that never gets old.
[Laughs.] No. I mean, I think you never really expect to wake up one day and have Rivers Cuomo want to write a song with you. A lot of stuff that happens, I'm kind of like, "I can't believe that this is happening!" It's my job now, and it's something I'm getting a little more and more used to, but everything still takes me by surprised. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I wasn't expecting any of this to happen. If you're a very self-involved person and someone like Rivers asks you to do a song, you're going to be like, "Oh, of course Rivers is asking to do a song with me," but that's just not the way I function. At all.
What was that like, recording with Rivers?
It was definitely a little weird, going into a studio with someone that huge and just thinking about how I was going to go into a studio and help him write a song for his own band. But, to be honest, it was really relaxed and fun and I was really nervous about it, but, about five seconds into it, I realized that he was totally normal and not scary at all. And there's elements of my songwriting and his songwriting and Weezer's songwriting, and I think it turned out to be a really good match, so I'm really excited about it.
A lot of your songwriting focuses on the highest highs in relationships. How much of that, do you think, will we see moving forward with your music?
I don't want to get us stuck in this box where I only write about relationships and boys. That was just something I was dealing with at the time. The songs that I've been writing recently haven't been dealing with those same sort of things. But I do have a very simplistic way of writing and I think that is something will always stick with us. But, as far as themes, things will change as we evolve. I'm writing a lot now about what I'm experiencing now in my life--like homesickness and dealing with a lot of those things. I write a lot of personal songs and I tend to regret doing that because it allows people to sort of delve deeper, or thinking that they're delving deeper, into you even though a lot of what you're saying isn't 100 percent true. I guess I'm writing now mostly about life on the road, as cheesy as that sounds. But things that I'm experiencing currently.
I imagine there's no immediate rush for finishing those, given all the buzz you've got going now, though.
[Laughs.] No! Not at all.
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