If musicians can teach us anything about ourselves, it’s that we are resilient when faced with adversity. LA-based indie rock band Best Coast has experienced a few too many bumps in the road as of late, but they are hopeful about what’s coming and look forward to playing The Wiltern, opening the first of three nights of Jawbreaker’s Dear You 25th Anniversary on Friday (April 1).
Best Coast’s latest album Always Tomorrow was a welcome return for fans, released in February 2020 and the band had to cut their tour short due to the pandemic (with their last headlining LA date in February that year at The Novo).
“It was a bummer, we worked super hard on this record” said Cosentino. “It was our first headlining tour in five years and we felt that George Costanza “I’m back, baby” energy. At the end of the day, a lot of really rad stuff in my personal life came of it, I know Bobb really had some cool experiences. It was such a tragedy and it sucks that people died but for me it was cool to just slow down, it would never have happened while working my ass off on the road. It’s unfortunate that it’s not a by-choice situation and such a tragedy that happened in the world. I got to deepen my relationship with my friends and family and myself and my pets”.
Then when things started turning a corner in late 2021 and early 2022, after almost two years of no touring, lead vocalist/guitarist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno had to cancel dates again due to the Omicron variant. On top of these challenges, Cosentino’s beloved cat Snacks passed away. Snacks had previously served as Best Coast’s mascot on the cover of 2010 debut album Crazy for You, and he was a fan favorite, often considered the third member of Best Coast. [At future shows, you can expect to see fans wearing a special t-shirt with his face and the phrase “I Wish My Cat Could Talk” created in his honor with 50% of the proceeds being donated to Stray Cat Alliance, an LA-based cat rescue.]
“The way the fans have shown up for me regarding the loss of Snacks has been one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced honestly”, said Cosentino. “I miss him so much, but knowing how many people out there —especially so many who never even met him, miss him too, really honestly helps me a lot. Of course no one can ever understand my specific pain of losing him, but it feels nice to be reminded of how supported and loved I am by Best Coast fans. They really are the best”.
LA fans will be some of the first in the world to hear the new album live, which has new tracks on the Always Tomorrow (Deluxe Edition). Music lovers in Austin, TX heard some of the new tracks earlier this month when SXSW returned in person.
“We had a lot of fun at SXSW this year”, said Cosentino. “We realized that it had been 12 years since the first time we ever went, so it was pretty nostalgic for us to go there now, as real grown ups, and reflect on how far we’ve come as a band. It was a lot more mellow this year than years past. Or maybe I’m just old now and go to sleep before midnight instead of partying til 4AM”.
Best Coast’s new album includes the tune “Everything Has Changed”, which was written pre-pandemic and may take on a completely new meaning now. But for Bethany, it was about growth and evolving.
“I think that sharing my sobriety was only one part of the transformation and the work that I did”, said Cosentino. “It was a really easy thing to talk about. I think that I’m glad I shared it because I’m sure it inspired a lot of people. At the time I wanted people to know I worked hard on this thing. The pandemic really helped me realize that this is just one thing. As a person who came about when I was 22 years old, I had never been to therapy, I worked at Lush soap store, touring consistently without a break. It was easy to turn to substances and not wanting to deal with anything.
The pandemic opened Cosentino’s eyes, she took a psychology class, wondered if she should become a therapist, and realized she can be a whole bunch of things and do whatever she wanted in life. But best of all she discovered herself.
“My biggest breakthrough during the pandemic is my value, which is not tied to what I do because I thought that if I wasn’t working or creating art that I wasn’t worthy or valuable. I’m Bethany and Best Coast is a band and it’s my job and what I do but it’s not who I am. That was a harsh reality to understand because I wasn’t working and I couldn’t work. I was like I’m doing nothing with my time and some days I would just walk my dog and make food and I felt like a piece of shit loser. Your value is not tied to how much music you put out or to your productivity. I had to really validate myself. I was creating, I was working on myself, creating a new version of myself, fertilizing the lemon tree in my backyard. It made me realize a lot that I took for granted. You get to be however many versions of yourself as what suits you, you gotta back your own truth”.
Like many other albums, most of the tracks on Always Tomorrow were written years ago, like “Master of My Own Mind”, which may take on a completely different meaning than what was intended.
“This record like really was born out of me doing a lot of work on myself”, said Cosentino. “”Master of My Own Mind” was an homage to therapy and learning to master your own thoughts and getting control of your anxiety. I really thought I figured it all out and then screeching halt, it’s like that meme, are you wondering how I got here? All of the sudden the world throws the biggest bombshell and like, just kidding! It’s really interesting because the record was really about tolerating a world where you really only have power over so much, but the biggest thing comes at me and suddenly I have to figure out how to navigate this thing. A lot of the songs on the record, the majority of them were written three or four years ago. You write songs and then the record comes out a while after. So when I listen back, and having performed some of them live at this point, I’m like oh Bethany, sweet, sweet Bethany. The same can be said about older Best Coast material like “Boyfriend” but it’s about being able to erase the timeline of when something was created. Performing a song like “Boyfriend”, when I was 22 years old, I’m 35 years old now, I connect to the energy of the song. Always Tomorrow is like you always have a fresh start. I have to remind myself that this meant something to me when I created it and just let it be that and try to have a relationship with it now in a way that serves you and godspeed to you”.
The Best Coast sound is rooted in indie rock and surf rock, with moments of punk and garage rock, and influences from the 60s, 80s and 90s. Cosentino admits to listening to the same five artists most of the time from when she was a “tiny baby child”, with a soul that doesn’t necessarily fit into a modern vacuum. There are definitely moments that evoke songs of The Beach Boys, The Go-Go’s, The Bangles, The B-52s and Joan Baez.
The deluxe edition of the album includes two new songs “Leading”, featuring The Linda Lindas and “All Alone” plus B-sides released for Record Store Day 2022 called “Birthday” and “Sweetness” as well as a stellar cover of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy”.
“We’ve been covering that song for a while now”, said Cosentino. “Sheryl Crow is my most favorite artist ever. I think she is criminally underrated as a songwriter and singer. I really spend time with those records —and she’s on that list of five artists I listen to. When we were promoting Always Tomorrow, we did a session at SiriusXM and we did a cover. I’m manifesting it on all my vision boards, so don’t you worry [to do something with Crow one day].
Over the last couple years, like most every other touring act, Best Coast played a bunch of livestreams when the first tour was canceled. Their first show back after lockdown was last summer in Chicago at Riot Fest and they opened for Band of Horses at The Palladium in November. Though a rescheduled tour has not yet been announced, the Best Coast duo look forward to playing their music again for hometown fans at The Wiltern.
“We’re really excited to play with Jawbreaker and of course our favorite lil rockers, The Linda Lindas”, said Cosentino. “The Wiltern is also one of my favorite venues ever to play, so it will be nice to get back up on that stage. We plan on playing some new songs off the deluxe edition of Always Tomorrow, which will be nice to do after so much time away”.
Words by Michael Menachem
Photos by Sarah Morales