Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino Overcomes Writer’s Block and Learns to Embrace Fame on Latest Release

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Best Coast released its fourth studio album, Always Tomorrow on February 21st. It was the follow up to 2015’s California Nights that fans were looking for – but the project almost didn’t happen. 

Following the touring cycle behind the previous release, Bethany Cosentino, the group’s principal songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, found herself completely unsure of her next move. “Typically we’ll put a record out, we’ll go on tour, and then while we’re on tour we’ll start talking about ‘okay, well the next record should probably come pretty soon.’ We’ll have ideas and things planned for what’s to come. But this was the first time that we didn’t have a plan,” she tells American Songwriter, of the next steps for her project with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist bandmate Bobb Bruno. This time around when the pattern of traveling on a bus, doing a sound check, performing a show, wake up and repeat ended, “everything came crashing down.” 

Before the band could move forward, the 33-year-old found herself faced with some internal demons that she had to work through. “I was dealing with learning how to navigate life in the spotlight,” she reveals, noting that she started the band at the age of 22 and found herself quickly rising to a level of success that she was not prepared for, nor did she know how to handle. “I was giving so much of myself to my job and to my industry, but I wasn’t really taking care of myself. I didn’t know how to be there for myself. And so I had to really push the pause button for a while and figure out how to be a human and how to navigate this life that musicians live while not losing myself in the process,” she adds. 

Cosentino describes what followed as a process of closing the curtain for a second and examining what was going on behind it – “cause I think for a long time I just pretended that everything was cool but it really wasn’t,” she explains. And then she was hit with a bout of paralyzing writer’s block. “Usually when I’m in periods where I’m feeling anxious, depressed, whatever it is I’m feeling, I use writing as a tool to get through that. But I tried to write and I just couldn’t get anything out,” she recalls. The frontwoman described the situation as being similar to when Ariel in The Little Mermaid goes to sing and nothing comes out of her mouth.

Realizing she couldn’t force things, Cosentino took a break and began to focus on herself. “I started going back to therapy and I started doing a lot of intense work on myself and through that I started to develop those creative feelings again,” she says. And once she was able to tackle some of the heavy stuff, the music began to once again pour out of her. 

One of the first singles off the record, “Everything Has Changed,” she says, was the first song that she had written in a really long time that she was actually very happy with. “It’s interesting because the lyrics to the songs and the story of what the song is about wasn’t really a life in which I was currently living. I was talking a lot about a life that sounded like I was so happy and feeling so good. But in reality when I wrote that song, I was very unhappy and I was still living the same life that I had been used to living,” she explains, admitting that she’s still impressed that she was able to craft the happy go lucky song when she was far from that headspace. “I think it’s interesting the power of our brains and what can come out when you don’t even actually feel that way,” she says.

To bring the song to life, Cosentino called in a few friends from the cast of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules to star in the music video. “When wrote that song, I was watching a lot of Vanderpump Rules. I binged it and I was going through some hard stuff and that show really helped me get out of my head. So when was coming up for a concept for the music video, I was like, ‘Oh, that’d be funny if I could get them to be in the music video for this song,’” she says, adding that her pals Katie Maloney and Ariana Madix were completely on board.

The albums second single, “For the First Time,” was very heavily influenced by the songs that Christine McVie had written for Fleetwood Mac. “I love Stevie Nicks but I think some of Christine’s songs are some of the best songs ever written. And that song is about being comfortable in your own skin for the first time,” Cosentino says. She explains that the track came together “very quickly.” “I was going to pick my mom up from the airport and I had an idea and I ran downstairs and grabbed a guitar and a keyboard and I sat there and I churned it out. Then I revisited it a few days later.”

Once the inspiration began to flow, Cosentino followed her typically process for piecing together the album. “I’ll sit down with a guitar, sometimes the keyboard, sometimes I’ll sit at my piano. I’ll write the bones of the song, the rhythm guitar, the chord progressions, the melody, the lyrics. Sometimes I throw in a keyboard line or a guide for a lead line, and then I’ll send it to Bobb and I’ll give him a context of ‘here’s what it’s influenced by, here’s what I want it to sound like. Here are some references,’” she explains. Bruno then takes that blueprint, says Cosentino, expands upon it, and does everything else – coming up with a rhythm, drum parts, adding baselines, writing lead lines and “sprinkling his good stuff on top of the structure of the song.” The duo, she says, has a really good chemistry. “He’s very good at making my songs sound the way that I want them to sound,” she explains. 

Cosentino says this latest release tells the story of “a second chance, hope, acceptance, and learning to surrender.” It’s a message, she says, that life is challenge but if you can learn to accept things for what they are and learn how to just live in what is and what is isn’t, not try just to not focus on what’s going to be, it becomes a bit easier to digest. And stylistically, she deems Always Tomorrow a rock record. “I feel like in the past we’ve made albums that are very border along the lines of I guess what people would refer to as indie rock. But this record is us being like, ‘Hey, we listen to a lot of heavier rock stuff and classic rock. And we just kind of wanted to include those influences on this record,’” she explains, noting that fans will hear plenty of heavy layered loud guitars this time around. “I feel like I can finally tell people, ‘Oh, I’m in a rock band!’” she chirps.

Though the journey was difficult this time around, Cosentino is thrilled with this latest batch of songs. “I often times would put a record or a song out and I could tear it apart and I could look at it and be like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done this differently.’ This is the first batch of songs I’ve ever really written where I’ve been able to sit with them and just accept them for what they are,” she explains, noting that “I think that is very reflective in the music.” 

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