Los Angeles surf rock band Best Coast began their co-headline tour “Summer Is Forever II” with Noise Pop group Wavves earlier this month. The two were originally scheduled to play the first show at the newly renovated Berkeley’s UC Theatre on March 1. Unfortunately, due to construction circumstances at The UC Theatre, the show has been moved. But the show must go on! And it will…at The Fillmore. A second San Francisco show is also set for the following night at the Independent on March 2.
Best Coast is comprised of vocalist Bethany Cosentino on guitar and Bobb Bruno on lead guitar. The SoCal duo have always been closely linked over the years with Wavves, playing shows together in 2011 on the first “Summer Is Forever” tour. Both also dropped new records last year, with Best Coast’s California Nights arriving back in May 2015 and Wavves releasing V last October. Five years later, both bands have delivered on their early buzz to become two of the most acclaimed outfits in music.
To preview their two SF shows, we spoke to Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast about her cat as the unofficial band mascot, making a music video with Drew Barrymore, and their close, collaborative relationship with Wavves.
Who were some of your influences growing up that led to you to pursue music professionally?
I was definitely inspired by a lot of the music that my parents listened to. My dad is a musician and my mom was always a very artistic person. I was raised in a house where it was very much encouraged – I was supported very much in everything that I did. My parents really wanted me to do whatever made me happy. Being a singer, performing…doing all sorts of creative, artistic things made me happy.
My parents were a huge influence, as well as the music they listened to, like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan. I remember back to my childhood, a lot of my friends asking what I was listening to. ‘Oh, Steely Dan. What the hell is that?’
Is there anything stylistically that you carried over to Best Coast from any of your previous bands like Pocahaunted?
No, it was definitely a clean slate. When I was doing Pocahaunted, I just wanted to be playing some kind of music. I wanted to be artistic and creative. I was in college, really focusing on school and then to have this creative outlet of music was important to me. At the end of the day, I knew the kind of music I was playing was not the music I was very passionate about or music that I listened to on my own.
I have always been really into pop. I wanted to do something that was influenced by classic 50’s and 60’s pop music. When I say pop I don’t mean Britney Spears even though I do enjoy a lot of that pop music. I mean the Beatles, Buddy Holly, a lot of stuff my dad introduced me to. That more sort of classic, pop rock stuff. When I started Best Coast, I wanted to play stuff more centered around stuff I listened to.
Do you lead the band’s songwriting on your own or is it more of a collaborative process with all members?
The core of a Best Coast song is written by me. I write the melody and all of the lyrics. I formulate all that stuff on my own at home. I usually put it together with a paragraph or two about the idea or inspiration for the song. I send it to Bobb [Best Coast counterpart/guitarist], who is my collaborator. One of the things I really like about Bobb is that we’ve know each other for a really long time, and we also really respect one another’s creative process. Bobb doesn’t try to rush me and say ‘send me more songs.’ He has a lot of stuff going on in his own life – other music stuff and things he likes to do. I also try to respect that in a way where I’m not trying to make a million songs and sending it to him all the same time. I think that the dynamic that he and I have, and the mutual respect for one another’s space and as artists, is a very important thing.
Your current tour poster indicates a fondness for cats. Is that your own cat or something random?
We put a cat on the cover of our first record and we’ve always had a lot of merch with cats on it. My cat is the cat that is on the cover of the first Best Coast record and the cat on the tour poster. He has kind of become the mascot for the band. It wasn’t something I intentionally set out to do. I just remembered, ‘I have a cat, he’s a cute cat. Let’s put him on the cover!’
What was it like to have Drew Barrymore direct the music video for your track, “Our Deal?”
I was introduced to Drew almost five years ago. She was just a fan of the band. I got an email one day saying ‘Drew Barrymore is a fan and she wants to come to your show in LA.’ She came backstage with her then fiance, now husband. I was always a huge fan of hers. To get to meet her and hear she was a fan of me was totally bizarre and awesome.
We were discussing a program that MTV had at the time, where they were pairing celebrities with artists and have them be involved in music videos. They wanted to bring the music video back and play them more on TV. The art of music videos sort of got lost in the last decade or so. Music videos now seem to mostly just live online. It was sort of thing bringing the music video back, how to get people to be intrigued or watch a music video.
Hearing ‘Drew Barrymore has this idea and she wants to run it by you’ was such a cool feeling. The next thing I knew I was on set with Drew Barrymore watching her direct, having all these incredible young actors and actresses that have gone on to do incredible things since then. At that time, Best Coast had only been around for about to year. It was huge and felt like such a crazy thing that I was here hanging out with Drew Barrymore, talking about the music and how it’s impacted her. I’ll always have the utmost gratitude for her for being involved when she was.
When did you get introduced to Wavves and can you explain how you decided to share a tour and record release together?
Nathan [frontman of Wavves] has a record label called Ghost Ramp that he has been doing since I’ve know him. I’ve known Nathan for 10 years. When I first met him, he was very interested in records. He worked at a record store and was very into expanding his label. Nathan is one of the hardest working people I know. He never really slows down. He kind of wanted to do this label, and for it to be a special thing not just for fans but for artists and bands that he really likes. For bands that may never have been heard before.