If opening for Green Day is equivalent to indie-cred suicide, Bethany Cosentino doesn't seem the least bit concerned about it. In fact, no matter how humiliating and uncool it may sound to some of her fan base, the Best Coast frontwoman actually claims to have enjoyed spending last month on the road with one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, playing her songs for massive, enthusiastic crowds. Go figure.
"It was really awesome," Cosentino tells the Scene with no trace of irony. "Pretty much every night I had one of those moments where I was like, 'Whoa, is this really happening to me?' Like, I grew up listening to Green Day, so to get to tour with them is like this insane experience I never could have imagined would happen." Predictably, of course, the Best Coast backlash rolls on.
Much like Liz Phair before her, Cosentino seems to have a knack for both enticing and thumbing her nose at indie rock's trendier-than-thou element — the type of people who think of Green Day only as "those sellouts who put Lookout Records out of business." Back in the summer of 2010, Cosentino was widely anointed the new slacker princess of lo-fi pop, churning out catchy, surf-inspired, distinctly Los Angeleno heartbreak songs with her guitarist pal Bobb Bruno. Toss in an adorable romantic relationship with fellow SoCal singer/stoner Nathan Williams of Wavves, numerous photo shoots with her beloved cat Snacks and a tendency to over-share on social media, and voila: A thoroughly likeable 20-something every-girl persona had been solidified.
Best Coast's debut album Crazy for You rode the subsequent wave of buzz all the way to the No. 36 spot on Billboard's chart, and by the following summer, it had gotten to the point where Drew Barrymore was directing the band's music videos (specifically, the Crazy for You track "Our Deal").
Then came 2012's uncomfortably polished, Jon Brion-produced follow-up The Only Place — a record that actually eclipsed its predecessor's performance on the charts (reaching No. 24), but also effectively split the group's audience in twain. Was a hi-fi, ballad-y Best Coast still worthy of one's undying devotion?
For those sitting on the fence, the band's upcoming, as-yet-untitled EP may tip the scales one way or the other. And it's a dynamic Cosentino seems ever so slightly cognizant of.
"The EP is recorded and done, but we don't really have a release plan for it as of yet," Cosentino says. "We aren't on a label right now, so we're figuring out what our next move is. But basically, we wanted to do something that was a little grittier than The Only Place but not as lo-fi as Crazy for You. So the EP is kind of right down the middle of those two records. I was listening to a lot of My Bloody Valentine and Mazzy Star and Blondie while writing the songs, so I think you'll hear those influences pretty well."
On Record Store Day, Best Coast did offer fans a sneak preview of their new direction with the release of a 7-inch single. Produced by Wally Gagel (whose credits, strangely enough, include both Lou Barlow and Jessica Simpson) and featuring Cosentino's dad Ricky on drums, the record actually says as much about its creator's psychological state as her stylistic evolution. Look no further than the titles of both new tracks: "Fear of My Identity" and "Who Have I Become." Is our fun-loving beach girl having an existential crisis?
"I mean, I'm 26 — of course I'm having ups and downs," Cosentino says. "I have my good days and my bad days just like anyone else. But I live my life in the spotlight, so it's totally different. 'Who Have I Become' is really just about being unsure of yourself and wondering, like, what has changed and when it changed and how you didn't really even see it happening — like life catching you off guard. 'Fear of My Identity' is about being afraid of moving forward but realizing that you're kind of the one who is in the way — like being the cause of your own problems. I guess that when I'm having my low points I feel more inspired to write, because it's like I have a lot more to get off my chest. But like I said, I'm in my mid-20s — of course I'm going through some weird 'What does it all mean?' bullshit."