Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino on playing Central Park Jul. 13 with The Go-Go’s, New York City, writing and more

by | Aug 10, 2016 | Culture, Music

Photo by Janell Shirtcliff

Photo by Janell Shirtcliff

In just seven years, Best Coast has released three acclaimed studio albums, over a dozen music videos, and a handful of EPs. The latest release from the Los Angeles band, 2015’s California Nights, was the group’s first for Harvest Records, a subsidiary of the Capitol Music Group. On the Billboard charts, California Nights reached #3 on the Independent Albums chart, #4 on the Top Alternative Albums chart, and #5 on the Top Rock Albums chart. Hit singles like “Heaven Sent” and “Feeling Ok” took off just as “Up All Night” and “Boyfriend” had on prior releases.

Still touring in support of California Nights, Best Coast — whose founding members are vocalist/guitarist Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno — returns to New York City on Aug. 13. Playing alongside The Go-Go’s and Kaya Stewart at Central Park Summerstage, the show is part of the “farewell” tour for The Go-Go’s. Writing for the next Best Coast release has already begun.

Downtown caught up with Bethany, who had attended college in New York, for some Q&A. Best Coast — whose touring lineup also includes guitarist Joe Bautista, bassist Brett Mielke and drummer Brady Miller — keeps a website at On Facebook and Twitter, the band can be followed via @BestCoast, while its account is @Best_Coast on Instagram.

Photo by Janell Shirtcliff

Photo by Janell Shirtcliff

Where was the first gig you ever played in New York? What do you remember about it?

Bethany Cosentino: I don’t remember where it was, but it was in Williamsburg like near the water at some really small DIY space. It was during CMJ 2009 and we flew to NY to play a couple of shows and do some press. It was just me and Bobb and a mini disc with our drum parts on it — so basically in the beginning, we were just a hip-hop band. (laughs) I remember it was really crowded and we were the last band to play and soooo many people watched us. I had no idea what was happening because we’d been a band for like a month and already we were playing this huge — to us at the time — New York City show. I just remember thinking like, “Whoa, this is really happening?”

You attended The New School for your undergraduate studies. Is there anything you miss about that era of your life?

BC: Not really, I mean of course I miss living in New York sometimes, but I always am there for work it seems. I miss spending a lot of time with my best friend who lives there — we did everything together when I was living there. But again, I still see him and talk to him all the time. I definitely don’t miss college or riding the subway everyday.

Is there ever any pressure to defend your band name when you’re on a different coast?

BC: Nah. The band name is such a tongue-in-cheek thing. Like, we are from California and we are proud of that, but I’m not actually out there being like “California is better than anywhere else in the world come fight me if you don’t agree!” I totally understand it’s not for everyone, and anyone who actually knows me knows I do really love New York.

I first learned about Best Coast when you did a co-writing session with a friend of mine, Mike Viola, yet writing credits show you as the songwriter for the band’s last two albums. Was there pressure from your record label to write with outside writers?

BC: I write all the Best Coast songs myself, but I do a lot of co-writing outside the band for other artists. It’s never a Best Coast-related songwriting session, I just work with a lot of great producers and artists to try and write shit for other people. I work with an amazing publisher named Amanda Berman who pushed me to do more co-writing for other artists because she believed in me as a songwriter. There are times it’s very awkward and I feel uncomfortable, but for the most part, I really enjoy stepping outside of myself as a writer for my own band and just working on other stuff.

Photo by Janell Shirtcliff

Photo by Janell Shirtcliff

Do you have a favorite song on California Nights?

BC: Probably “California Nights.” I really love dreamy, heavy, blissed-out music, but it never really felt like a song of that capacity belonged on a Best Coast record. When we made this album, I just didn’t care. I wanted to explore different genres and influences so when I wrote “California Nights” and played it for Bobb and our producer Wally [Gagel] and they loved it. I was like, “OK, cool, let’s just have this one song that feels unlike any other song on the record or any other songs have ever released before.” It’s cathartic to do something different.

To me, California Nights has some moments on it that sound like they’re influenced by The Go-Go’s, who you’re touring with this summer. Do you remember the first time you ever heard The Go-Go’s?

BC: The Go-Go’s has always been a huge influence. I cited them as an influence for “Heaven Sent” on the last record. I actually said “I want this song to sound like if Drake wrote a Go-Go’s song.” (laughs) I’m not totally sure when I heard them for the first time but I was young. I feel like it may have been on VH1 or something. My dad was a fan and I think “Vacation” or “We’ve Got The Beat” is what I heard first. I very much remember the “Vacation” music video.

When I spoke with Charlotte from The Go-Go’s, she said that her daughter Astrid turned her onto Best Coast. But how did the idea to tour together come about?

BC: Yeah, Charlotte’s daughter’s band The Side Eyes is really great — Bobb is a huge fan. We got a random e-mail about a year ago just saying that our booking agent had seen the Go-Go’s manager out somewhere and it came up that they were fans of the band. Then when it came up they were planning a farewell tour, we got brought up as a support idea. Bobb and I were interested immediately. I said yes before I even knew if it would happen for sure or not.

What’s coming up for you after this tour wraps? Have you already begun writing material for your next album?

BC: I’ve been slowly working in preparation for making a new record, but I’m not totally there yet. I have a lot of ideas in my head and I’ve been writing a lot and Bobb and I worked on a demo together before we left for this tour, so when we get home we are gonna try and get back to work. But I’m not a believe in forcing yourself to do work — if you aren’t feeling creative, don’t push it. That’s how I work, at least. I have a feeling that this tour with the Go-Go’s is going to get me really inspired and prepared to get back into the mindset of making another record.

When you’re not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?

BC: I mostly hang with my dog and my cat and my boyfriend at home. I live in a canyon so I do a lot of hiking and exploring. I love to workout, I’m pretty addicted. I do a lot of kickboxing, Pilates and barre method. I love cooking. I love wine. I’m pretty mellow. I don’t really like going out and partying — that was my vibe when I was younger but now I’m more of a homebody. I’m happier that way.

What’s your favorite album so far of 2016?

BC: Anti by Rihanna.

Finally, Bethany, any last words for the kids?

BC: Sup kids.

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