The L.A. Beach Duo Talks About Vegan Food, Stalkers, And Their New Album 'The Only Place'
A second album seems like a challenge for Best Coast. After snagging surprise fame and spurring a lo-fi beach trend with Crazy for You in 2010, their own act is a tough one to follow — especially since that act includes indie chart love, an Urban Outfitters fashion line, and Drew f’ing Barrymore.
But all the fame, widespread internet snarks, and creepy stalker fans have forced some thick skins on this proud California Rock duo. Not only are they dropping the sophomore album The Only Place in May — featuring cleaner sounds and clearer vocals under heavyweight producer Jon Brion — but they pretty much couldn’t care less what you think.
I met with Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno backstage at eMusic’s The Only Place listening party in New York. They were sitting atop a ping pong table while Beth maneuvered some gnarly looking vegan/gluten-free mac & cheese. I managed to learn a few things between bites: namely, that Bobb talks considerably less during interviews than Beth, that Beth’s toenail clippings are in high demand, and that the two of them love some tripped-out J-Pop.
Also, they’re thrilled with the new LP, thank you very much.
Is “The Only Place” [the single] representative of what we’re going to be hearing when the album drops?
Bethany: Uh no. Not really. I think “The Only Place” is the only song that’s not really like, a downer. Like everything else on the record is more down and mellow. I just mean lyrically, content-wise. But I think that it’s kind of the vibe for that song.
It sounds cleaner. You went with a more high-end studio this time.
Bobb: Yes, Capitol Records.
Your audience is a lover of Lo-fi, you think it’ll be alienating to them?
Bobb: We don’t care.
Bethany: I think fans are very fair-weather. There are fans that stick with you no matter what you do, and fans that stick with you because you’re the cool thing and move on to the next cool thing which is fine. With us, if people don’t like us because it’s clean and sounds like a real record, whatever. That’s their decision.
Are you optimistic about this album?
Bethany: Mm hmm. We like it.
Bobb: That’s all we care about.
Are you going with any different influences?
Bethany: I think you can hear a little bit more of our Fleetwood Mac influence — we definitely are both huge fans of Fleetwood Mac. That influenced the first record but I don’t think it’s very evident. And I think with this one it’s a little more evident that we listen to a shitload of Fleetwood Mac. For me, I was really influenced by like, Connie Francis and Patsy Cline and these female artists of the 50s and 60s with these big powerful voices, and I tried to make my singing like theirs to the best of my ability. There are different influences that are more apparent than on the last record.
How about for you, Bobb?
Bobb: Um my biggest influence in the later period is the band X, when they were more Country, less Punk. The guitar player Tony Gilkyson is one of my favorite. On the way to the studio I would listen to their live record, Live at the Whiskey A Go Go. That was probably all.
Is the ode to Cali as earnest as it sounds?
Bobb: I would never live anyplace else.
Beth: We’re both from there, we grew up there. It’s embedded into our makeup as humans. Living here is what really inspired me to make a band, and I was very inspired by my love for my home, California. So we try to make music, or at least have an aesthetic that makes people in places who are cold…feel like they’re a part of it. People will say to us all the time like, “Oh it’s 30 degrees but I’m listening to your record and I feel like I’m on a beach in the sun.” If we can make people feel that then that makes us happy.
And there’s a lot more vegan, gluten free availability there?
Beth: I think there’s more of it here actually. There’s a lot of options here. But I think people are little bit more into that sort of dieting lifestyle in Los Angeles.
Are you vegan?
Bobb: No. Not even close.
Nowhere comes close to Cali? Somewhere is second place? How about to tour?
Bethany: I love coming to New York. I love coming to New York because my two best friends live here, everyone we work with lives here. We love to see them. Good food, good shopping. It’s an all around fun place to come, my favorite place besides California when we’re touring. I like Chicago.
Bobb: I like Australia.
Bethany: Australia is one of the most amazing places that we’ve ever been.
Bobb: Spain is good.
Reader question. Most awkward fan encounter?
Bethany: Um oh, I would say that mine was when a girl asked me if she could have my toenails — if I would give her my toenail clippings. And she wrote a poem and gave it to my merch guy. I have it at my house. I have a bunch of saved random weird things. That was the weirdest. I didn’t meet the girl, thank god cause I’m like horrified. But she was serious. She said, “You mean everything to me. I would eat your toenails.” Didn’t a guy in Scotland try to have sex with you?
Bobb: From Helsinki. He grabbed me and told me he wanted to have sex with me.
Bethany: He told Bobb that I was shit and the worst part of the band, and it was all about Bobb. He said, “Who cares about Bethany? It’s all about you anyways.” The guy wouldn’t leave him alone.
Bobb: We had a physical altercation.
So you didn’t ultimately satisfy his fantasy?
Bobb: No, sorry.
Bethany we hear you’re actually kind of a bitch.
Bobb: That was a reader question?
Bethany: Maybe the cover of a magazine said I’m a big bitch or something.
Bobb: Bethany is not a bitch, but don’t fuck with her.
Bethany: I’m not a pushover. I like to voice my opinion, or if I’m angry, I can be a bitch sometimes.
Bobb: I’m a huge bitch.
Bethany: He’s a bigger bitch than I am, that’s for sure.
Bobb: Quote me. Bob is the bitch.
What gets under your skin the most?
Bethany: When people ask if I’m a bitch. [awkward pause] Just people who are ignorant and say things about you like they know you, based on things they read, or Twitter, or they don’t like our music so they ultimately think you’re like a bad person. And it’s annoying and in the industry we both have to put up with a lot of criticism and we both have to like grin and bear it, and say, “Kay.” But, he gets way more pissed than I do.
Bobb: I talk shit.
Bethany: He will curb stomp, and I have to say Bob, “Relax.” But it essentially does bother you if anyone talks shit about you.
Bobb: Mind your own business. Worry about your life.
Afraid of anything? Phobias?
Bobb: A lot.
Bethany: Heights, the ocean, open water, flying, basically a lot of things that have to do with my job. I have to fly all the time and I’m absolutely horrified of it . The band is called Best Coast so people automatically assume that I’m the number 1 ocean person, but I think the ocean is disgusting. Cancer. I think it’s really scary.
Bobb: I’ve accepted it.
You’ve accepted cancer?
Bobb: Meh, that everybody dies.
Are there any music around the world that interests you these days?
Bethany: There’s a really awesome band in the UK called Spectrals that we are really good friends with, and they are I think my favorite band that is currently making music. I think they’re really great and everyone should check them out. Sweetest guys ever.
Bethany: Remember that girl? The girl with the music video?
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu?
Bethany: Yeah!!! She’s cool. That video is awesome if you’re, you know…
Under the influence?
Bethany: Under the influence of something. It’s awesome then.
Hear the band’s new single “The Only Place”