From starting a band before she was 10, to touring all over the world with her band Best Coast, Bethany Cosentino has always been surrounded by music.
“When I was eight years old I started a band with my cousin, and the first song we ever wrote was called ‘Running,’ and the lyrics were, ‘Running, my heart is beating so fast, Running,” says Cosentino on the phone from Los Angeles.
But for as quickly as Cosentino’s music career progressed, she needed time away from it to grow as a person. Her public image is mostly tied to her work with Best Coast (rounded out with Bobb Bruno on bass), but from 2015 to 2020, the duo didn’t release any new music.
“I needed not to create for a little bit,” says Cosentino. “My value for a really long time in my mind was tied to my productivity, my creativity and what I’m making. Like, if I’m not making music I’m a worthless piece of shit. Maybe my brain just knew that I needed some time off to process the past couple of years.”
For a while, Cosentino thought she had a bout with writer’s block, but the more the rock singer thought about it, the more she just needed some time off.
“I just needed a break, and I needed a moment to exist as a person without creating anything,” explains Cosentino. “The rise and success of Best Coast seemed to happen overnight. It was very fast and I was very young, and I had not gone to therapy or faced my struggles head on.”
During this time, Cosentino took walks around her Los Angeles neighborhood, went to therapy, and watched a lot of Seinfeld (she’s a huge Elaine Benes fan). Overall she felt like the time away from music was beneficial to her, and changed her thinking.
“I think now when I struggle with the same feelings of, ‘Oh my god, I can’t create. What is wrong with me?’ it’s a big sign that I’m not connected to myself,” says Cosentino. “I think creativity is connected with our relationship to ourselves and our relationship with our intuition. When I feel that way now, I meditate and take walks in nature; that brings me back to center.”
After Cosentino’s time away from music, she went back to work, and Best Coast’s fourth album Always Tomorrow was released in 2020.
“Always Tomorrow kind of exists as a little bit of a bookend to the prior Best Coast records, you know, that deal with challenges, personal relationship issues, and me grappling with anxiety,” says Cosentino. “The record really came out at the right time. Ultimately the record is about learning to live with things that aren’t in your control and learning how to navigate the world and all of its hardships without panicking so much. Early on with Best Coast, my life was about panicking at everything and turning everything into the worst-case scenario.”
And now with COVID about to enter it’s junior year of existence, we have all gotten a course on what Cosentino learned years ago, which is how to live with things that are beyond our control.
“When the record came out, we were not expecting the outcome that happened,” says Cosentino.
For Best Coast, that meant postponing the tour for Always Tomorrow multiple times, and with Omicron raging, it’s something that is on Cosentino’s mind. A few days after our conversation, Cosentino, who is fully vaxxed and boosted, tested positive for COVID-19 and has since recovered.
As it stands now, Best Coast will be making the trip to the Garden State on Jan. 27 at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park.
For fans who make the trip, they will get to hear newish songs from Always Tomorrow. One of the songs that fans at Asbury Lanes will get to hear is the Fleetwood Mac-sounding song “For the First Time.”
“’For The First Time’ is heavily inspired by the song ‘Everywhere’ by Fleetwood Mac, and we wanted to make a song that had that energy,” says Cosentino. “I was in a place in my life where I was seeing things with new eyes, and seeing things differently than I had for the past couple of years. I remember writing it at my house that I was living in at the time and my mom was coming to visit. I had this feeling of feeling really happy and looking around at my house and my life, and being like, ‘Wow, I really feel good,’ and this is the first time that I have ever felt this way kind of ever. I ran into my room and made that song.”
Even though the fuzzy surf rock sound that made Best Coast famous on their debut album Crazy For You is nowhere to be found on Always Tomorrow, the band still gets pigeonholed as a surf rock band.
“When you’re a person that is in the public eye, people decide who you are for themselves,” says Cosentino. “As much as you want to say, ‘I’m not that person anymore,’ people will be like, ‘Yeah, you’re still that person.’ It’s frustrating as an artist who is trying to evolve, but at the end of the day, I know it’s not true. It’s easy for people to be like this is what we decided that Best Coast is gonna sound like, and this is what we are gonna say they continue to sound like.”
Cosentino addresses this in “Different Light,” which is the leading song for Always Tomorrow. “We get pigeonholed as this low-fi surf rock punk band all the time,” explains Cosentino. “The world was calling me one way and saying that I was one way. At the time I was really young and I hadn’t gone to therapy, and I was easily influenced. I started to subscribe to this and was like, ‘This is who I am.’ And now as an older person looking back on their life, and writing the songs for Always Tomorrow, it’s an interesting commentary on the person that I used to be, and I don’t feel like that person anymore, and I get to reintroduce myself to the world.”
Recently Best Coast released a new single, “Leading,” a song about staying true to yourself and standing up for what you believe in. For Cosentino, her activism started at a young age when she had a “Buck Fush” sticker on her car in opposition to President George W. Bush. In recent years, she has spoken out against sexism in the music industry, for marijuana legalization and performed at a Bernie Sanders rally.
“There’s a lyric in the song that goes, ‘Whatever happened to believing in the truth?’” says Cosentino. “It’s a commentary on everything that has transpired throughout the pandemic, like people say, ‘Vaccines are bad or masks don’t work,’ all of this shit that we watched go on in the world. No two people are exactly on the same page, but it really felt like a huge separation in society during the pandemic, and this song is my way of talking about how frustrating it felt during this time. Even people in my family are full COVID denialists.”
“Leading” also features back-up vocals from The Linda Lindas, a band that Cosentino sees as hope for the future.
“The Linda Lindas are a super young band that is based in LA, and they are an awesome band,” says Cosentino. “They are who I look to when I need to find hope. The younger generation is so cool and inspiring. They stand for so much and care about the world that they are ultimately going to inherit. So I wanted to include these fresh young voices, and it adds a cool punk aspect to the song.”
When Cosentino was the age of the Linda Lindas, she had to navigate herself through the DIY scene of Los Angeles. It was there where she met Bobb Bruno, who would later become Best Coast’s bassist. Even though she made crucial connections, Cosentino learned some important lessons along the way.
“Not to throw shade at the people I was previously in a band with, but I think that I learned that with a working dynamic of band, and especially with Best Coast just being Bobb and I, it’s super important to communicate with your collaborators and feel safe and comfortable with them. The previous band I was in and especially because I was really young, I didn’t know how to stand up for myself or say no to things, and I didn’t really know how to communicate. One of the biggest things about the dynamic between Bobb and I is that we are very open with one another and we’re usually 90% of the time on the same page about stuff. We’re very open about where our heads are at.”
Cosentino is looking forward to playing shows in the Garden State, and across the Delaware River in Philadelphia. A big reason why is because she gets to see her best friend who is a professor at Rutgers-Camden, but also because at a young age, Cosentino was always fascinated with the East Coast.
“I love New Jersey,” says Cosentino. “My dad’s side of my family is Italian, and whenever I go to Jersey I feel connected to that side of my family. New Jersey is also such a beautiful state. I love that there’s an industrial part of the state and then there’s really beautiful nature.”
Best Coast will be playing at Asbury Lanes on January 27th with Rosie Tucker. Ticket information can be found here.