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Interview: Best Coast

Best Coast

As a kid growing up in rural NSW, summertime could be a real shit. When the temperature peaks at a median of around 38 degrees, and with the nearest beach sitting an eternal six hours away, you have to make do with what you've got. The salty bite of the surf was replaced with the sweet cordial taste of Wooly's ice blocks, detergent slicked slip 'n' slides, and the all out warfare of super soaker fights in hyper colour T-shirts (fuck me the 90s ruled).

This geographical remoteness also meant relative cultural isolation, with the soundtrack to those summers consisting of whatever the powers at be had decided to add to that season's Hit Machine compilation. If only I'd been listening to the Beach Boys or the Ronettes, I might have grown up to write songs like Best Coast.

Best Coast, for those of you who haven't hung ten on their net-hype wave yet, are a two-piece from Los Angeles, California, that have taken the genius song writing formula of the surf bands and girl groups of the 1960s and re-imagined them as the fuzzed out soundtrack of today's summer.

Our buoy Rav recently spoke to Bethany Cosentino, Best Coast's chief songwriter and conceptualizer, about how the band got their start, what recording their debut was like, and how Garfield has become a mascot for the band...

Where did you guys first meet?

Bob (Bruno, the other half of Best Coast) and I met at a party in LA. I knew who Bob was because he recorded a lot of bands in LA and he played with a lot of bands. He was kind of this guy in LA that was involved in a lot of music. We started working together on a project that I was involved in called Pocahaunted and he recorded us and played live with us and that was sort of the first time I'd recorded with Bob musically. And then when I started Best Coast I just knew that he was the right guy to ask to do it with me, so he was the only person that I asked, basically.

What was your first impression that people were really starting to dig Best Coast's sound?

I had no idea, I mean, I just started writing the music because I was... it was kind of a time filler. I didn't really have much going on and I'd just moved back to LA from New York and I'd just dropped out of college. I didn't really know what I was going to do and I started writing these songs and we started playing shows in LA and it all just started to happen really quickly.

I think the moment that I realised that kind of how busy things were getting was when we went to SXSW. We played like 10 shows in three days and that was sort of like the moment where I was like, "You know, this is something that I'm doing now pretty much full time. And it's getting pretty busy and it's exciting but it's also something that came out of left field. I had no idea that it was gonna take off like it did and it's really exciting and cool that it's doing well.

This summery kind of beach and summer inspired pop has taken off lately with you guys, as well as bands like Wavves, The Drums and others. What do you think it is about this kind of music that listeners are really identifying with?

I guess people are just trying to capture that vibe or that excitement that summer brings and try to portray it through their music and I think that it's kind of cool that everyone is kind of doing that and everybody's doing it in their own way and all those bands have different sounds and unique sounds and I think everyone is trying to have fun with their music. And summer is fun!

Crazy For You album cover
Crazy For You album cover

So what can you tell me about the new album, Crazy for You?

The record was recorded in January of 2010. Basically we had two weeks allotted in the studio just because time constraints and the guy who recorded our record is Lewis Pesacov and he plays in a band called Fool's Gold and he also plays in a band called Foreign Born and he's super busy and touring just as much as we are and we kind of looked at our schedules and that was the only time we had to do it. So we went in and the studio that's called Black Iris, it's in Echo Park, which is in LA, and we basically just went in and we took about two days rehearsing songs to come up with drum parts and tracking drums and all that and for the next week and a half we got in there and started recording our parts. We took a lot of advice and knowledge from Lewis and it was really fun experience.

You've already had a fair amount of success purely on the back of the singles you've put out, what are your hopes for success once the album gets released?

Who knows, I mean, we really didn't expect anything from the singles. I don't really have any sort of expectations or I try not to really think too much in the future just because, you know, I try to sort of live everything one day at a time, especially because things are pretty hectic and busy right now. If I think too far ahead, I get a little anxious because there's so much stuff going on but I think that I really just hope that people enjoy the record and I hope that a lot of people spend their summers listening to it or spend this summer listening to it at the beach or with their friends or whatever. And, you know, we have a lot of touring and stuff coming up this year that we're pretty excited to do and we're gonna get to go to some places we've never been before and meet awesome people, so I think we're just looking forward to whatever is sort of mapped out for us, I guess. We're just kind of open to new ideas and sort of excited about what the future holds for us.

When I'm With You

Looking at the album's track listing, why did you decide to put When I'm With You on as a bonus track as opposed to one of the tracks on the album?

I didn't want to include it on the record at all, just because I wanted everything that had come out before the record to sort of stand on its own and I didn't want to re-record songs.

But then I realised to date that's the biggest song and that's the song that when we play live people recognise that song and I thought, you know, I just want to include it on the record. But it didn't just seem like it really fit with the record, so I didn't want to put it on their as a song on the record 'cos everything on the record was brand-new. So I just thought the bonus track would give the people what they want but I did it the way it wanted to be done.

What's the concept behind the album's cover art?

When we were trying to come up with our album art we were in Europe and our deal with Mexican Summer happened really quickly and they were like "We're gonna have the record out really soon and we need to have the art, and Bob and I had had some concepts and I thought of some ideas but the original things I wanted to do with Bob and I would've taken a lot more time. So I just sent in a photo of my cat [Snacks] and I said I want this picture to be included and I think it would be really cool if we kind of blend in some of the aesthetic or the aspirations of the band, which is the beach and, you know, it has the old timey post card font on it and in the inside of the font, is like map pattern and the map that is inside the font is actually a map of Los Angeles. And this guy, his name's David Raiser, he did it and he is a really nice guy and he just came up with it really quickly and basically I just explained that I want post card font, I want a beach scene, I want my cat, blah, blah, blah, blah and then he came up with that and we loved it!

Any plans to tour Oz?

Yeah, we are doing our record in Australia with Pop Frenzy and I think we are [planning to tour] actually. It hasn't been confirmed yet or discussed too much but we're thinking of coming out there in January or February of next year because the record comes out here in July and I think it comes out there a couple of months after. But yeah, I'm still so excited to go to Australia. I'm not looking forward to the flight because it's really long and I don't like flying [laughs] but Australia's the place that I never in my wildest dreams ever imagined I would go to and to be given the opportunity to go there and play music for people is really rad, so we're really looking forward to that.

I saw on your blog you guys want people to bring Garfield stuff to your shows, is Garfield a band favourite?

Yeah, I love Garfield and, in my house at least, there's a pretty good collection of Garfield stuff. And a lot of times at shows people will bring me weird cat stuff and I thought I'd just be more specific and say bring Garfield stuff, but cat stuff is also expected - but I do love Garfield.

I assume you guys don't want anyone chucking lasagne at the stage?

No, no lasagne [laughs], unless the lasagne is maybe in the shape of Garfield.

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