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Posted December 28, 2021 by Jeff in Tunes
 
 

Indie Rockers Best Coast Revisit ‘Always Tomorrow’

Best Coast photo by Kevin Haynes
Best Coast photo by Kevin Haynes

An indie rock band that singer-guitarist Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno formed in 2009 in Los Angeles, Best Coast released its latest album, Always Tomorrow, last year and started to tour in support of it shortly after it came out. Two weeks into the tour, the group had to cancel the rest of the dates because the pandemic caused venues to close. The duo retreated home for some unexpected downtime.

Now, the group has new dates lined up for 2022, and it’ll issue a deluxe version of Always Tomorrow that includes two new songs and a handful of B-sides.

In this recent phone interview from her Los Angeles home, Cosentino discusses the deluxe version of Always Tomorrow and the upcoming tour.

What was it like to see the pandemic wipe out last year’s tour?

I mean, it was kind of the ultimate situation of something being so beyond our control. We felt frustrated and disappointed. We had been out on tour for two weeks. We were having great shows and were really excited about everything. To have it all collapse on itself and then come home and see the world collapse on itself was difficult. The one thing that kept me going was knowing that it was not a singular experience. Everybody was going through this collectively, and it affected people all over the world.

Given that the album is about personal growth and change, I would think it was particularly difficult to see that happen.

I was not foreshadowing what was to come, but the real core message of the album is that there is so much beyond our control and learning to live with an acceptance of that. A new handful of challenges were then presented to me and Bobb and our whole crew. It’s been interesting to reflect on it and be able to see how the record could almost be about the pandemic..

I think you battled writer’s block as you were writing the songs. Talk about that.

It’s funny because I’ve been doing some press around the deluxe version of the album and the tour, and this question keeps coming up. I said that at the time, but at the time I felt like I needed to call it writer’s block because I was just not creating. Reflecting on it now, I realize that I had to do personal work on myself during the pandemic, and I wasn’t working or creating. I had to really come into myself and understand that my value isn’t tied to my productivity. My value is not tied to how much I create or don’t create. Looking back on what I called writer’s block, I realize now that I think I needed that time to rest and go through a lot of stuff. It’s so interesting that I had to name it. Maybe I just needed a year of sitting on the couch watching TV. I hadn’t had that in a long time. As a creative person, sometimes I feel blocked. Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot of that is feeling disconnected to myself. I have to think now, “If I feel blocked, how do I get back to myself?” I just taught a workshop about that two weeks ago.

It’s funny how life reveals itself to you in all these different ways.  

– Best Coast singer-guitarist Bethany Cosentino

“Everything Has Changed” was the first one you wrote for the album. What’s the story behind it?

It was. I had been living in this house several years ago. I was feel really trapped. It was up in the hills and away from everything. It was the first time I was living outside the city. I was really struggling with what I was doing. I had just turned 30 or was about to turn 30. I was at that pivotal point in my life. I thought I was about to be old. Looking back on it, I realize now that 30 is not old at all. I wrote it in my closet in my house. I tend to write in odd places. It’s so interesting that it was written several years ago because it feels so old to me at this point. Since it’s the first song I wrote for the record and the first time I had gotten through a whole song in a while, I’m proud of it because it came out during such a weird time in my life.

Did that song somehow inform the rest of the songs on the album?

I think somewhat. I have a tendency in my lyrics to write about things in my life almost like I’m trying to manifest them in some way. I often joke that I’m a psychic or powerful witch. That song was written not at a moment I had gotten to yet but at a moment that I was looking toward. It follows a similar path of me reckoning with the past and being like, “Where do I want to go from here?” Now, almost two years later, looking back on it, I don’t feel like that person anymore. It’s funny to think how much life can change and how quickly it can change. Learning to adapt to those changes and the chaos is what the record is about.

You had Bobb send you the music to “Graceless Kids” so that you could then write lyrics. I know that’s different from how you usually write a song. Can you talk about that process?

There’s a couple of songs that Bobb wrote the music to and then I wrote the lyrics and melody to it. At the time, I was struggling with getting a completed song out of me, and I needed help. It’s difficult for me to ask for help. I have a hard time looking at someone and asking for help. I’m getting better at it, for sure. At that point, I had never written with anybody else. Bobb and I collaborate, but I was feeling that I needed help. I asked him if he wanted to take a stab at writing some music that he could send to me and see what comes of it. That really opened up a new collaborative process for us. We did the same thing with the newest thing single we just put. I didn’t blink an eye. I wrote one song and then told him to send me a track that I could write to. At the end of the day, it exposed me to this new collaboration that I had not done before that I now really enjoy .

I like the Taylor Swift-like spoken word moment.

Thanks. It was really embarrassing to do and I had to make everyone leave the studio when I did it in front of people, but it is a cool part. It’s really different than anything I have ever done. It’s cool to know that we have evolved since the beginning.

I like how accessible the album’s songs are. Talk about your pop impulses.

I think at the core of my influences lies classic rock like Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan. Best Coast doesn’t necessarily sound like that, but I learned a lot of my songwriting from the bands I was exposed to. I think every single band on Earth will tell you that the Beatles are an influence in some capacity. When Bobb and I first met, that was our communal obsession. At the end of the day, I say I write pop rock. I try to find the same sensibilities. When I say that, I think of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. I don’t necessarily think of Ariana Grande. That’s just very different type of pop. That’s not to say that I don’t think it’s any good. It’s just different from what I connect with. A lot of it comes from stuff I was exposed to as a kid. I’m grateful my parents had great taste because that has given me great taste.

Talk about revisiting the album for the new version that’s coming out.

Unfortunately, the record did come out at a strange time as the pandemic hit. And once the pandemic happened, everyone got disconnected to everything but how do we survive. We had to think on our toes for a way that we could breathe new life into this record and put out something new without making a brand new record since we weren’t really ready to do that. It doesn’t feel like the next logical step for us as a band. The idea of recording two new songs and tying them to a deluxe edition and including some B-sides was a way to bring attention back to the record while also giving new meaning to it. At the end of the day, the core of the record was always about how to survive difficult times . . . It’s easy to forget that life is hard but we’re also really tough. We were created that way.

Photo: Kevin Haynes 


Jeff

 
Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.