Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino on Her Cats and the Best Band Ever
Katy Perry might have the Song of the Summer, but for the Album of the Summer look no further than sixties surf-rock revivalists Best Coast, whose debut record Crazy For You is out today on Mexican Summer records (even their label is summery!). The band’s lead singer and real life California Gurl is Bethany Cosentino, a 23-year-old romantic with a gorgeous voice. While she’s currently touring Europe, we caught up with Cosentino a while back to talk about her influences, her obsession with her cats, why she ignores the internet.
One of your songs is about your cat, who’s also on the cover of your album. Why are you so obsessed with your cat? I have two cats, but my main cat is Snacks. He’s like a big fluffy orange tabby cat. He is the real life Garfield. My other cat’s name is Chloe and she was my childhood cat. She’s pretty old and mellow, but she gets bitchy. Snacks is the best cat, though. He’s our mascot. I got him around the time we started recording and playing shows. He is along for the ride. In fact he is staring at me right now and I think he knows I’m talking about him. We wanted to honor him, so we put him on the cover of the album.
You’ve been touring a lot lately. Any stories from the road? We are the most boring band. After shows we either go to our hotel or chill at someone’s house. We tell jokes that aren’t funny to anyone but us. There was a bunch of weird stuff that happened in Europe, but I can’t really remember all of it. I guess one interesting thing was that Ali and I got food poisoning, and Bobb ate the same thing but didn’t get sick. If the three of us party Ali and I totally get hung over and Bobb is fine.
Who are your influences in regard to your music? I listen to oldies and things like The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys and Phil Spector. That’s where a lot of inspiration comes from. I’m also inspired by the aesthetic of the era. Beach parties, California and summer fun. It makes me feel really happy and there is an innocence to it. The aesthetic inspires me more than the music.
Did you grow up on that type of music or did you gravitate towards it? Yeah I had a 70s mom, but I really started listening to it when I lived in New York City for a while in the winter. I listened to the Beach Boys and 60s stuff because it made me feel really happy and the weather was affecting me in a serious way. It helped get my spirits up. It wasn’t until I moved away that I started depending on it.
Who would you describe as the best band ever? I know this is kind of a stereotypical answer but I’d say The Beatles. Their earlier stuff is so good! Later stuff like the White Album and Magical Mystery Tour is a little too hippie for me. Everything that we have now would not exist if it weren’t for The Beatles. There will never be another band like them. They started that clean happy, bouncy pop music. Even if you don’t like The Beatles you listen to stuff inspired by them, so really you do.
Do you release on smaller labels on purpose or have you tried to work with bigger names? Yeah, we worked with a lot of self-run labels. We weren’t ready to record an album and I hadn’t written enough material. The time has come for a record so I’m really glad it will finally come out. I would get angry emails saying, “Why can’t I buy your 7-inch!” I would just have to apologize saying “I’m sorry, it’s not my fault they are all gone.” Best Coast has only been a band for a year, so I felt it was too early. It seemed like it was a good thing going and we didn’t want to rush anything. It was a good decision to wait, but when you headline a tour and you don’t have a record it’s weird. “I’m sorry I don’t have anything to sell you!”
Pitchfork said Best Coast was one of “indie-dom’s most promising new acts.” Does this put a lot of pressure on your upcoming work. Do you think you can handle it? I didn’t even know that they said that. I try really hard to not pay attention to what people say on the Internet because people say mean things. I don’t really read too much, especially lately, but now that the record is coming out a lot more shit talking is happening. That is a cool thing, it doesn’t really put too much pressure on us, I just hope people like the record.