My interview with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast was definitely one that I didn’t want to end. It really felt like catching up with an old friend, but I guess one who has been extremely successful since you spoke to them last. She doesn’t seem fazed by any of it, though; she’s genuinely excited, stimulated, and grateful for the press, opportunities, accolades, and ability to share her music on a newly widened platform. Often with artists, and certainly with Bethany, the background story says so much about where the music comes from. In the interview, Bethany not only talks about her journey to the East Coast and back, but also what it feels like to receive the nod from Rivers Cuomo and the experience of writing with Kid Cudi and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmangli. She’s also another incredible artist on tomorrow’s FYF lineup, so if you didn’t win tickets from us and want to go, buy NOW before it sells out! Additionally, the band is touring through March of next year, so there’s essentially no excuse for missing them live. The track below is “When I’m With You” which you can download free at RCRDLBL.
Cedar: Hi, how are you?
Bethany: Good, how are you?
Cedar: Good, just having a little lunch. What have you been up to since Crazy for You’s release? Is it too early to start talking about a second record?
Bethany: We’ve just been touring a lot since the record came out. We have the month of August off, so we’ve all been trying to recuperate and get ready to set out on a tour that basically lasts until next March. We have no plans of going in and recording new stuff; however, I have been writing new stuff, so whenever we get the time to go in and work on it, I’m sure we will. But the rest of this year and early next year is really just a lot of touring so unfortunately we don’t really have time to go in and record anything new, but I’m trying as hard as I can to just have a bunch of songs prepared for when we do have time.
Cedar: Definitely. And for those who don’t know, could you briefly retrace your journey to the East Coast and back to the West Coast? I feel like it’s so important for people to hear and be able to fully appreciate how awesome your music is.
Bethany: Ok yeah. I moved to New York about two summers ago to go to school at the New School, Eugene Lang Liberal Arts College for creative writing, and I made it about a full semester and a half before I dropped out and moved back to LA. I just didn’t really like New York, and I tried to force myself to like it. Once winter came, it just got to a point where I was very, very depressed and very unhappy. I didn’t feel creative, I didn’t really feel like I could continue to force myself to live somewhere I didn’t want to be, so I packed up all my stuff, and I came home. And I immediately started writing music. As soon as I got home I felt very creative and very inspired to play music again. I’ve been playing music since I was a kid – it’s not something new to me – it’s just the first time I’ve every really been involved in a band that I’ve actually been very passionate about and cared enough about to basically give up my life for. [Bethany laughs]
Cedar: Definitely. I’ve always wanted to ask artists how they feel about people doing covers of their work. There are quite a few fan covers of “When I’m With You” on YouTube….what’s your reaction to it?
Bethany: Both my mom and my dad are, like, crazy internet freaks; like, they Google me 24-7. And I ask them both not to do it because the internet is so stupid, and the things that people say on the internet can be so stupid sometimes. But my parents are always the ones that find the Best Coast covers and then send them to me. I mean, it’s really flattering that people cover the songs. I think it’s funny to see the different ways that people play them. You know, a lot of times I’ll see the song, and someone’s playing it wrong, or they’re singing the wrong words. Besides it being a little weird, it’s definitely very flattering, and it makes me feel like, wow, that’s awesome that somebody’s covering my song. But also, my songs are some of the easiest songs in the world to figure out, so that’s probably why in reality there’s so many covers of them, because they’re like, oh wait, this is just four power cords! [Bethany laughs]
Cedar: Cool. And I mean, it’s not just your fans covering songs, people like Bill Murray and Rivers Cuomo (I’m sure your parents have told you from Googling) are giving you the nod…what is your reaction to these people of mass influence giving you the thumbs up?
Bethany: It’s really awesome. I mean, honestly, the day that Rivers tweeted at me, I was sitting on the floor in my living room on my computer, and I like started screaming. My dad was over, and he was like, “What’s wrong?” and I was like, “Rivers from Weezer just tweeted at me, and Weezer tweeted that they liked Best Coast,” and my dad was like, “What?” and I was like, “YEAH.” And I freaked out, I mean it’s really crazy when bands that you love, bands that you listen to, and bands that even influence you…Weezer is one of the first bands that I ever listened to when I started learning how to play the guitar, and my guitar teacher would teach me Weezer songs on guitar and stuff. It’s just really crazy and exciting when bands or artists or actors or whoever say that they like your work. It just makes you feel really, really, really awesome. It confuses you a lot, too; it’s like, how did Weezer hear about Best Coast? But I’m glad that they heard of us, that’s really awesome so…[Bethany and Cedar laugh]
Cedar: For sure! That’s great. I’m curious how the Converse song with Kid Cudi and Rostam Batmangli (of Vampire Weekend) came about? What was it like to work with them on “All Summer” and perform together?
Bethany: That came about through this company called Cornerstone, which is like a big PR company, and they approached me at South by Southwest and told me about the project. I was totally like, “Yeah, that will never happen, they’ll replace me.” I just didn’t think it was going to happen but if it did happen that’d be really cool. They told me not to tell anyone about it because we weren’t supposed to talk about it until it was completely finalized, which was the thing that made me feel like it wouldn’t really happen. And then we were on tour, and we were driving through Chicago, and I got a phone call, and they were like, “Listen, the Converse thing is gonna happen, it’s gonna be you, Kid Cudi, and Rostam from Vampire Weekend, you’re gonna write this song together, you’re gonna do a video, and you’re gonna perform it…” And I was like, “WAIT, this is actually gonna happen?” and they were like, “Yeah, of course it’s gonna happen!” So, you know, it was just really, really exciting to get asked to be a part of that project. When I met Rostam and Cudi, they were both very nice, down-to-earth guys, and it was really cool to be able to work with two artists that are obviously doing something that’s completely different than what I’m doing. But we all got to get to know each other and work on this really awesome song together. The performance was like, ridiculous, and we all just got really drunk and got up on stage. It was like, this whole night was leading up to this big performance, and then it just turned out to be that Cudi was really high, and I was drunk, and Rostam was drunk, and I dancing like a white girl on stage…It was really embarrassing, but I mean it’s one of those things where you’re like, “Nothing like this is ever going to happen to me again,” or at least that’s the way I feel now, so it was just really cool to be able to do that.
Cedar: For sure, definitely. Last question – Are you excited to play at this year’s FYF Fest before touring through March? What can we expect for the immediate future of Best Coast?
Bethany: Yeah I’m excited to play the Fest. I’ve been going to the Fest since it was properly called the Fuck Yeah Fest. Since I started, I’ve known Sean for a really long time, and I went to like, almost every single one of them back when they used to be at the Echo and all the different venues in LA. I’m excited; there’s a lot of really amazing bands playing this year. I think it’ll be a lot of fun. And you can really just expect a lot of touring from us, we’ve got a video coming out later on (we’re filming it the day before Fuck Yeah Fest), so it’ll be out at some point. Yeah, lots of traveling, lots of touring, and lots of me tweeting about how tired I am. Those are all things you can expect.
[photo by David Black, both Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno pictured]