interview: Best Coast
I've grown up listening to Best Coast, the band of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno often saying everything I never could about anxiety, growing into yourself and falling in love. The band last released California Nights and have kept busy with touring, including a current set of dates with Paramore. Before the band makes a 9/14 solo stop at Mahall's in Cleveland, Cosentino was kind enough to answer a few of our questions on dream merch, providing comfort through song and music making.
The Grey Estates: I can remember listening to Best Coast when I was still a teenager and now I'm a totally different person, but I still relate. How have you changed as a person since first releasing Crazy for You and how have you changed as a band? What have you learned along the way and when you started did you ever anticipate where the band would be now?
Bethany Cosentino: I mean in a way I feel like I haven't changed at all since crazy for you haha but in reality, I have. When I made that album I was like 22 or 23. I was filled with angst and anxiety and I just wasn't thinking about what I was doing, I was just doing it. It was super organic and real. I had 0 expectations of what the band would or should become- bobb and I were just friends making music together. Now, I'm 30- I'm a lot more mature, responsible + together- but I'm still an angsty mess at times haha. Sometimes I really miss that innocence of being young and just not giving a shit, but I'm glad I grew up. A lot of who I was at that age was toxic and exhausting and it's best that it's in my past now. I think as a band we have grown a lot. We've changed our style a bit but we've remained true to who we are because that's the only way we know how to do shit. Bobb and I are the least people pleasing people ever. We do things that WE want to do and I think as I have grown up, the band has grown with me. Whatever we go on to do next will be a huge reflection of where I'm at now and where bobb is at now and where the world is at now. So much has changed since crazy for you but at the core, we are still the same.
This tour has you playing with Paramore. Does Hayley have any influence on you as a live performer and how does it feel playing shows with them and to their fans?
Hayley is for sure an influence on me in so many ways. She's such an incredible performer and writer and I admire her hugely. It also helps she's one of the most humble and kind people I've ever met. We've been friends for years so I'm really excited this tour is finally happening. Paramore fans have always been gracious to us because whatever hayley supports, they back- so I'm really excited to be touring with them and hopefully being exposed to a brand new audience of kids who will leave calling themselves best coast fans!
I think both you and Hayley openly speak about mental illness and anxiety, which as someone who has anxiety and depression, this is really comforting. Is it important for you to speak up on issues like that and how do you handle the stresses of touring and performing with that? And when you think about - how does it feel to know that something you say or sing could potentially have a positive impact on someone?
Anxiety is such a massive part of my life it's like impossible for me to not be open about it. If I for some reason tried to hide it from people, I have no idea how I would even operate haha. I have always been honest about who I am and how I feel, like since I was a kid. I was raised to voice my opinion and stand up for myself. I think being honest about your struggles in a position of "celebrity" in this day and age is hugely important. It helps people feel less alone. Nothing makes me prouder than meeting a kid at a show that says to me "you've helped me come to terms with my anxiety/depression" like that's huge! It's not easy but we are pretty much all struggling together- so why not give these kids some hope and say, this sucks- but here I am living my life and so can you.
You last released an album in 2015. Are you working on anything new and what is your songwriting and brainstorming process like? Do you make time to create on the road or is it hard?
I'm slowly writing for another record but I'm not in a rush. Everyone looks at you like "where's your next record!?" The second you put a record out, it's incredibly stressful. Like I'm older now and my experiences are different and the world is SO different than it was even 3 years ago when that record came out- I want to make something reflective of that. I don't want to rush the process just because people are antsy for a new record. This time around bobb and I working on things together more. It used to be all me- I would hide out and write a record and send it to him and ask him to finish the songs. Lately we've been doing it different- bobb has been sending me tracks he's working on alone and I'm writing lyrics and melody over them. I'm not sure that's how the whole record will be but we're at a point where we want to try things differently. Doing the same thing every single time can become a bit stifling. Either way though, for me- writing is therapeutic. I'm almost ALWAYS going to write about myself and my own feelings and emotions because it's what I know best and I also know so many people out there feel the same way.
Looking back at your discography, is there a song that you really love or has an interesting backstory behind it?
There's a song called "when will I change" off California nights that I really relate to and connect with and think I always will. It's just a song about how tired I am of my own bullshit and how badly I want to grow out of it but I keep repeating patterns. I am so inside my own head all the time and that's my biggest issue. I can overthink myself into a crisis for sure haha.
California Night is said to embody the feeling of California at night, obviously, so how would describe to someone unfamiliar and how did you capture that feeling with song?
California, or more specifically, LA, at night is just this overwhelming calmness. LA is such a huge hectic city- but when the sun sets and you see those gorgeous pink sunsets- it's like a huge deep breathe and you get to just finally feel chill. There's also always a crisp breeze and California at night is just this ethereal experience I've never felt anywhere else. For me it's about resetting. It's like a spiritual feeling when the sun sets and it's all dark and calm. I can't really find that anywhere else. I mean maybe somewhere in the middle of nowhere- but that doesn't have the same vibe as California because LA is so manic during he day time. One of the coolest cities we ever played in was Portland, Maine. I walked around all day
For anyone reading who hasn't been to California, what should be their must visit spots? And where should they hang out?
Malibu, hiking trails in the angeles crest mountains, Palm Springs- I'm a homebody. When I go out I go hiking or to eat good healthy meals. Basically anywhere where you get to experience the true geography of California- the ocean, the mountains, the desert- we have it all and it's all surrounding this giant concrete jungle.
I think the message you say about it's okay to feel sad is really important, especially because I think we're so often hesitant to open up about our feelings. Why was it important to include that message? How have you learned to deal with periods of sadness or do you find there's something that calms you and provide comfort. I watch cartoons.
Oh man HGTV is my go to when I'm sad haha. Just TV in general- it always makes me feel better. I dunno man, it's just like- I can't fake it. That's not me. I don't always feel like I have a choice so I just say- hey I'm sad but it's ok, I'm still here and I'm still making it. Why ignore our feelings? Why pretend that we are ok if we aren't? The biggest thing for me is accepting my feelings. Once I just say to myself, ok- I'm disappointed- I sit with that and then it passes. I used to ignore it and pretend I was ok but that didn't help me at all. I'm an honest person who it comes to how I feel, sometimes I wish I wasn't haha but I think it benefits me.
Best Coast merch is some of the most creative and wonderful merch ever. BUT if you were to have a dream merch item — it can be anything — what would it be? (I have a Snacks the Cat candle p.s.)
Best Coast inflatable pool rafts of my pets.