Snacks, Clueless, and Linda Ronstadt's bangs circa '71

A Q&A with Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino

Bethany Cosentino is the sunny, melancholy voice that drives Best Coast's hazy surf-pop strum and dang. The Los Angeles-based duo, featuring guitarist Bobb Bruno, is on the road playing songs from its second album, The Only Place (Mexican Summer). Before setting out for the road, Cosentino took a few minutes to talk about her favorite style icons — from Linda Ronstadt circa 1971, to Cher Horowitz from the movie Clueless — returning to the group's lo-fi roots, and collaborating with her cat Snacks, who is really a total diva.

So you were just out on the road with Green Day?

Yeah. We just did a three-week tour with them. It was cool. I mean, it was definitely a departure from anything that we're used to because playing these huge arenas with like 18,000 capacity is definitely not our style at all.

Have you had voice training? How do you keep your voice from wearing out?

When I was younger I took opera lessons. If my voice is strained, it's typically from being drunk and yelling, not even from singing. But I have a lot of tricks. I also write my songs in a good speed. I'm not over-singing.

Who are some of your favorite fashion icons?

Well my favorite is definitely Stevie Nicks. I love her witchy, hippie thing she has going on. My Urban Outfitters line was very inspired by that. My other favorite, which is a fictional character, is Cher from Clueless. I literally go shopping thinking, "Oh, would Cher wear this?" And then another person that I really admire is Linda Ronstadt from the '70s. I recently was watching an Eagles documentary that she was featured in a lot, and on a whim, I drove to my hairstylist's house and got my bangs cut like hers. I think my fashion influences are really '90s and '70s. I try to combine those as well as I can.

With a couple of your new tracks, "Fear of My Identity" and that cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying," it seems like you were returning to lo-fi production.

When we went back into the studio after the second record, we decided that we wanted to do a little bit of the lo-fi sound, but do it right — like do it the way we probably should have done it in the first place. We want to keep our sound clean-ish but dirty-ish, if that makes any sense.

Is there a producer you're working with now?

We just recorded a five-song EP about three months ago. We recorded it in L.A. with our friend Wally Gagel, who recorded our iTunes EP. We don't have a release currently planned for the EP. We're not on a record label right now.

I noticed that your dad played drums on Best Coast's recent "Fear of My Identity" Record Store Day 7-inch. Is he a professional musician?

Yeah, my dad is a musician. He played for the band War, but he played for them when it was only like two remaining original members. He played with Bad Finger as well, when there was only like one original member in that band.

I also noticed you collaborated with Snacks the Cat on your cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying." Was that Snacks' idea or yours?

I randomly woke up one day and was like, "Wow I want to do a cover of this song." And when he came in and so perfectly meowed in the end, I was just like, "I'm just going to be stupid and say 'featuring Snacks the Cat.'" But it's really funny. It's almost like he knows that I'm making music and he has to be involved in it somehow. I think he's just a little diva, and wants to get his voice in there somehow.

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