Interview with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast

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On Seinfeld, California, bean curd, and covering X, eventually.

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Jeremy Krinsley | November 17, 2009

bethany cosentino best coast photo

Even before she was a former member of Pocahaunted, Bethany Cosentino was immersed in Los Angeles' music world, albeit as a potential starlet in the glossy major-pop-industrial complex. That's all in the past, as her newest project, Best Coast, continues its regular trickle of mp3 and vinyl releases that place her squarely among the best purveyors of sunny California garage pop today.

Do you think you'll ever jam with Pocahaunted again?

Nope.

I read that you once sang on the Ellen DeGeneres Show as a teen, and that when you were 16 you were approached by major labels. Do you ever regret not snapping up the chance to make a bunch of teeny bop pop?

Sometimes I think about it and I'm like, “Man…that was pretty stupid of me.” But for the most part, I feel like it was a wise decision to leave that music behind when I chose to. I was super young, and I wasn't really ready for any of it. I just wanted to have fun, and it all seemed to get a little too serious for me. I also think that I wouldn't have become the person I am today, or created the music I make today had I have stuck with that shit when I was younger. No regrets!

When you talk about loving California, is the music playing in your head exclusively the summery Beach Boys lineage, or are there any Dead Kennedy covers coming down the line?

Haha… Actually I really wanted to cover “Los Angeles” by X for this one show, but we didn't have time to learn it. Maybe we will work on it. I mean, the vibe and the sound of the Beach Boys is really what inspires me, but I grew up listening to a lot of California punk like the Weirdos, and the Germs, and TSOL and shit. I mean, I'm not only exclusively into like California “beach” music. I just think I look more to that stuff for inspiration.

What's your favorite episode of Seinfeld?

“The Pen” is like one of my favorite episodes, even though it's lacking George and Kramer. It's this episode where Jerry and Elaine go to Florida for the weekend, and Elaine has to sleep on this sofa bed and her back gets fucked up and she takes a bunch of pain killers and acts super groggy and awesome. “The Marine Biologist” is probably my other favorite episode. Classic George awkwardness.

Do you think that there's an obvious divide, at this point in time, between music made by your peers on the east coast and the various kinds of stuff going down in LA? I guess I'm wondering if you can describe to me what you think is responsible for the Los Angeles aura I've seen you talk about.

I really feel like LA has this awesome community vibe where like if you are a person making music, you are totally accepted into this awesome “scene.” But there is like no rule that you have to sound a certain way or whatever. You can play anywhere, and with any band… it doesn't matter. I always felt like New York had this thing where it was more like certain types of bands had to stick together and play shows together, and they always had to play at these same venues. But here it feels a little more open.

Do you plan on playing with a consistent 'band' or will Best Coast be primarily a solo-driven project?

Well I mean, Best Coast isn't really a solo project. Yeah, I write the songs, but Bobb [Bruno] is a huge part of this. The songs wouldn't sound the way they do without him. And when we play live, it's three of us, now that we play with a live drummer. Maybe at some point I'd add a bass player, but at this point it's really fun as just a three piece, and it was fun when it was just Bobb and I playing live too. But the live drums adds a really cool vibe to it – I feel like it's a lot more engaging.

Because you are from southern California, we assume that you do not consume meat, smoke cigarettes, and that you buy organic bean curd. How much of this is true?

Haha… Well you are right, I don't eat meat, though I do eat fish. I couldn't live without fish tacos. I do smoke cigarettes, but I smoke American Spirits. And I actually don't really eat a lot of tofu. I am however allergic to gluten so I buy a lot of weird wheat free products and stuff made out of brown rice.

Have you ever related to Lindsey Lohan in Mean Girls?

Nope. But that movie rules.

What are some of your favorite local acts right now?

Dunes, Abe Vigoda.

I know you have those 7-inches out now. Do you have a full-length coming out?

We're working on it. You can expect it sometime next year.

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