No Small Ponds for Bethany Cosentino

The Best Coast singer-guitarist has a platform, and she's not about to waste it on selfies or cute videos of her cat – not entirely, anyway.

Best Coast (Photo by Janell Shirtcliff)

Bethany Cosentino will not be silenced.

The 30-year-old singer, songwriter, and guitarist has been the vocal half of the lo-fi indie-rock act Best Coast since 2009. But in recent years, she’s decided to make her message louder.

“I am such an outspoken person,” Cosentino says. “It’s like, if you don’t know that about me by now, you probably don’t even like my band, because it’s such big part of who I am. A big part of the persona that I have as a musician now has become this woman that just speaks out about things.”

The morning after the release of Taylor Swift’s controversial single “Look What You Made Me Do,” Cosentino makes it clear that it’s what Swift hasn’t done that bothers her.

“I’m so tired of hearing about Taylor Swift,” she says. “Taylor Swift was silent for the entire election and then she puts out this song that’s like all about her and a diss track to Kanye West and still perpetuating this girl-on-girl feud bullshit. If she had just come out and said even a single thing, I would’ve been willing to put my weird feelings about Taylor Swift behind me. I used to love her! Now I’m like, ‘Ugh, Taylor, you really disappointed me.’ ”

Meanwhile, Cosentino often uses her Twitter feed to call out sexism in the music industry and to discuss the politics of the day. Earlier this year she put together a benefit for Planned Parenthood with Liz Phair.

“I’m sure I’ve lost followers and fans and all sorts of shit since I started to be really vocal and political, but I really don’t care,” she says. “At the end of the day, I’m not just going to use my platform for cute videos of my animals and selfies. If I did that, I’d be humiliating myself.”

Actually, Cosentino still finds occasional moments to share pictures of her cat, Snacks. After all, her feline companion was often mentioned in early features on the band — which swelled into a sizeable buzz and crowned them as the real deal following their first release, 2010’s Crazy for You.

Cosentino and bandmate Bobb Bruno had already released several EPs together after meeting in Los Angeles, but Crazy for You — a perfect blend of malaise and California sunshine — took the duo into the spotlight. They’ve since released two more albums, and Cosentino confirms that work has begun on a fourth.

“We’re really taking our time with this one, because we’re trying to do it a little bit differently,” she says.

Explaining that the band’s standard process is for her to write everything “and then send it to Bob to finish off,” Cosentino says they’re switching things up this time around.

“I was having a really difficult time writing for a while,” she says. “I felt like I was putting so much pressure on myself that when I would sit down to write, nothing would come out. It was a really severe case of writer’s block, so I went to Bob and asked him if he’d be down to try the opposite, to have him write some stuff at home and send it to me.”

So far, Cosentino says they have a couple of tracks in the works, and that she and Bob plan to put “the pedal to the metal” once their current tour concludes later this fall. Still, she concedes that everything that followed Crazy for You has required notably more effort.

“The one thing that I really think when I listen back to Crazy for You is how organic and how easy it was to make that record,” she recalls. “That record was like a bead of sweat. It just rolled off my back. Sometimes I get frustrated because I think about easy that record was to make, and wonder why it’s not like that anymore. It’s because that’s not how it’s meant to be. You’re never meant to do the same thing twice.”

So how different is the 23-year-old Bethany Cosentino who recorded Crazy for You with “purity and innocence” from her 30-year-old counterpart now readying her fourth record?

“I do feel awkward as fuck, 90 percent of the time,” she says. “I walk down the street, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I feel so awkward and I’m 30 and I feel the same way I felt when I was 13.’ I forget all the time that I have this career that I’ve built from the ground up. I think sometimes, I don’t give myself the credit that I’m due.”

Best Coast, plays with The Birth Defects on Monday, Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m. at Cornerstone, 2367 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. $22-$24; ticketfly.com.

View Comments