BEST COAST: (Singing) The world is lazy...

COAST: The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Dick Dale. That was the golden era of surf, sun and sand.

Now there's a new wave of sun-baked rock out there, and one band getting a lot of attention for its debut album is Best Coast.


COAST: (Singing) The world is lazy but you and me. We're just crazy. So when I'm with you.

: Bethany Cosentino leads Best Coast, and she joins me from, of all places, the East Coast, New York City.

Bethany, welcome to the program.


: So we're just listening to the single "When I'm With You." And ever since I heard it, this is the kind of song that makes me sound like it's echoing from a passing car or something as you're driving down the beach. It's totally stuck in my head.

And you're a California girl. What are the elements of California that you're trying to capture in your music?

COSENTINO: I'm really inspired by sort of the '50s and '60s aesthetic and, you know, the idea of people driving down PCH with surfboards on their cars.

And, you know, that doesn't happen in reality, at least not now, but I really want the music - you know, if someone in Minnesota is listening to a Best Coast song in the dead of winter, I want them to feel like they're part of what's going on in California and around sun and palm trees and all that stuff because I lived here in New York for a while, and I depended on bands like The Beach Boys to sort of make me feel like I was back at home. And that's sort of why I started this band in the first place.


COAST: (Singing) I hate sleeping alone. I hate sleeping alone.

: I read that you had attended the New School in New York City for a while and kind of high-tailed out of there.


: I mean, what was it about New York that sent you packing?

COSENTINO: I love New York. I think New York is awesome. But as far as living here, it was really hard for me to kind of adjust to how fast-paced everything is. And obviously, you know, being a born and bred California girl, I'm used to 70 to 80 degrees year round, pretty much.

And I think that a lot of California people are spoiled because of that. But when winter hit, I was just, like, oh, man, I can't handle this, and I got to get out of here.

And I tried really hard to push through it, but I just got into a very, like, dark, kind of seasonal depression kind of thing. And it sort of made me reevaluate everything, and I made a very quick decision to leave school and go home.

And, I mean, I think at the end of the day, it was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made because now I'm doing something that I truly love. And I don't think I would be doing this if I had stayed in New York. So...

: And the music, the sound of it is the kind of polar opposite of what you just described, you were feeling in New York. I mean, I'm pretty sure there's a song in which you just say, I'm happy over and over again.




COAST: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

: Your sound also - I feel like we can listen to it through the lens of not just the '50s and '60s, the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las and so forth, but also The Ramones and...


: ...punk and even some kind of '90s alternative music. Is that the route, you know, Ramones to Ronettes?

COSENTINO: Kind of. I mean, when I first started writing the songs, I didn't really have a very, like, strategic plan. I just sort of was, like, okay, I wanted to: A, have a name that represents California or represents West Coast, and I think I chose probably the best name that I could.

And then as far as the sound went, I really wanted to make music that sounded beachy and California-esque, but I also wanted to have elements of exactly what you just said, Ramones and '90s alternative stuff like Nirvana and Guided by Voices and Hole and sort of all the things that I grew up listening to as a teenager.

So, yeah, I mean, I wanted to basically make music that was inspired by a different era but that had its own kind of modern twist to it.

When we were doing the record, at least, we walked into the studio, like day one, and we were like, Ramones guitar, Phil Spector-Ronettes vocals and early Beatles drumming. And I think that we pretty much achieved that to the best...

: Well, then, we definitely have to hear a song because that's a big...


: ...that's a tall order. We're going to hear a song called "Boyfriend."



COAST: (Singing) I wish he was my boyfriend. I wish he was my boyfriend. I'd love him to the very end but instead he is just a friend. I wish he was my boyfriend. There's nothing worse than sitting all alone at home and waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting by the phone.

: Now, Bethany, one thing I think a lot of the songs have in common with those girl groups is the writing about lost love, unrequited love, misunderstanding.


: Why are you drawn to that part of yourself when you write lyrics?

COSENTINO: To me, I just think that that kind of stuff is really relatable. I think when you listen to any of the songs on my record where I'm talking about wanting to be with someone that is not communicating properly with me or whatever, I think that a lot of people can listen to that and can think, like, oh, wow, I've been there at some point.

And, you know, I just, I've been writing music since I was a teenager. And for the most part, all of the music I've ever written has been about boys. And I mean, a I have a lot of other...


COSENTINO: ...I have a lot of other things to say. I just - the other thing is that I'm just a true believer in simple, straightforward pop songs. And I think there's nothing more simple or straightforward than saying, you know, when I'm with you, I have fun. It's a very straightforward statement.

And I always use the example of like, The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand." It's like, there's nothing more straightforward than that.


COAST: (Singing) When you leave me the bed is empty and I feel crazy 'cause I didn't say anything. I wish you would tell me how you really feel. But you'll never tell me 'cause that's not our deal.

: When I heard a song like "Our Deal," which sounds sweet, and lyrically, though, and the way you're delivering it, I'm not quite sure if you're being sarcastic or not.

COSENTINO: Yeah. Yeah. I get asked that all the time. It's so funny. I mean, are you being sarcastic there because your voice sounds sarcastic. And I'm like, I don't know what you mean by that, but no, I'm being sincere.

: I've also read that you wish you have the voice of Lesley Gore for some of these songs.


: And of course, she sang "It's My Party" and "You Don't Own Me." What do you hear in that voice that you want to inject into your songs?

COSENTINO: I feel like when I listen to a lot of girl group music, I feel like the female singers have a voice that's very, like, sweet and innocent. And now that I'm performing so much, my voice is becoming more and more raspy. And I wake up in the morning and I'm like, trying to talk to people and, you know, it sounds like I have a fur ball or something, you know?


COSENTINO: So for me, it's sort of like, when I listen to someone like Lesley Gore, I just hear so much innocence. And her voice is just like, beautiful and crisp-sounding. And sometimes I'll hear my voice in a song, and I'll think, okay, if only I had that sweet, innocent voice, this song would come across less grungy sounding.


COAST: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

: Is there a song that you'd like us to go out on?

COSENTINO: What about "Crazy For You"? That's the name of the record, I think that - I think that song kind of sums up a little bit about what the record is about. I think everyone can kind of relate to loving someone so much that they kind of make you a little crazy. So yeah, "Crazy For You."


COSENTINO: (Singing) I can't do anything without you. Can't do anything without you. You drive me crazy but I love you.

: That's Bethany Cosentino. Her band, Best Coast, will release its first full-length album on Tuesday. It's called "Crazy For You."

Bethany, thanks so much.

COSENTINO: Thank you.

: And if you want to download a free track from that album, you can do that at our website, nprmusic.org.


COAST: (Singing) I'm always waiting by the phone. I can't wait for you to get home.

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