Best Coast's 2013 tour dates recently included a stop at the Grog Shop in Cleveland. After the concert, during a rare moment of free time, band members Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where they were struck by such artifacts as the handwritten lyrics to the Beach Boys' classic song "God Only Knows."
Based in Los Angeles, Best Coast formed in 2009 around the duo of Cosentino and Bruno, quickly releasing a host of 7" and EP recordings. In 2010, the group's single "When I'm With You" proved a breakout hit and was followed that July by Best Coast's debut album, Crazy For You. All the material showcased Cosentino and Bruno's lo-fi aesthetic and pop-hook sensibility, with references to the surf rock and girl groups of the Sixties the band admired.
With extensive touring and popular music videos – including 2011's "Our Deal" directed by Drew Barrymore – the band's star continued to rise. The band's sophomore effort, The Only Place, was released in 2012.
In this interview with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, the singer and songwriter talks about her influences – from Blink 182 to Steely Dan – and why she's listening to Roy Orbison lately, getting on stage for the first time, explaining Best Coast's music, why Crazy for You holds a special place in her heart, seeing Taylor Swift live and more.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: What was the first record/CD you ever bought and do you still listen to it?
Bethany Cosentino: Ican't totally remember, but i feel like it was maybe Dude Ranch by Blink 182. I actually just listened to this album the other day while driving around running errands. It makes me feel super nostalgic, and I think it's such a classic pop punk, fun album.
RRHOF: What artists did you listen to when you were growing up and what about them appealed to you? Were you influenced by any Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees?
BC: I listened to a lot of punk when I was growing up, like in my teen years. When I was really young, I listened to a lot of pop – I was at one point obsessed with Hanson – but what tween girl in that era wasn't? Haha!
When I got a bit older, I started listening to a lot of the music my parents listened to, bands like Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles – I started exploring their record collection more and started listening to a lot more of the music they did. Roy Orbison has always been someone who really influenced me, especially lately – I've been listening to him a lot. [pictured: Bobb Bruno (left) and Bethany Cosentino visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, posing in front of the Beach Boys collection in the Museum's Main Exhibit Hall.]
RRHOF: What do you remember about playing your first gig – how old were you, where was it, when was it, how’d it go, the crowd?
BC: I think my first gig as like my own project was when I was 17. It was at the Whiskey on the Sunset Strip, and I had to sell my own tickets to the show. I played with a bunch of really random hair metal bands, and my music was more stripped down and mellow, more singer-songwriter like. But I remember a lot of my friends and family came out and a lot of the people there who didn't even know who I was came up to me after the show and told me how much they enjoyed it. I was so nervous, and I remember I had to play keyboard and sing at the same time, and I was panicking that I would forget how to do it! Luckily, I didn't.
RRHOF: Which album of yours would you say is your favorite and why?
BC: Crazy For You holds a special place in my heart because it was our first record, and I just remember how excited I was to be recording my first album. The songs also make me feel really nostalgic because I can totally remember exactly how I felt when I was writing those songs.
RRHOF: How would you describe your music to somebody who'd never heard it before? What song would you tell them to listen to first and why?
BC: I would probably tell them to listen to "Boyfriend" because it's like our biggest song to date, and I think it sums up our sound pretty well. I always just tell people we are like "pop" or "pop rock." that is the kind of music that influences us, so I feel like that's what I say we sound like.
RRHOF: Do you have a favorite concert? One by someone else? And one by you?
BC: I think my favorite show we have ever played is The Wiltern in Los Angeles. It was sold out, and our biggest LA show to date, and it was just packed with people who were so excited to see us and were singing along, and it was a very special night. I would say my favorite show I've ever seen by someone else is Taylor Swift at Staples Center. She is an incredible performer and she is so adorable and I love her so much, I had a great time.