Best Coast On Insomnia, ‘California Nights’ And Being Misunderstood By Grandma

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7min 44sec
Photo: Best Coast At Bluebird Theater
Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno of Best Coast hang backstage at Denver's Bluebird Theater

Los Angeles duo Best Coast gained national attention for their 2010 debut "Crazy For You" and singer-songwriter Bethany Cosentino's charming social media presence. Five years later, the band finds itself on a major label working with pop producer Wally Gagel on the new album “California Nights.”

While the music of Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno has been characterized as sunny, fun and upbeat, the new record finds the band exploring darker themes of California nightlife and insomnia with a more sophisticated sound. It’s arguably their most accomplished record to date, and Gagel's production expands on the Best Coast sound while keeping its roots intact.

Best Coast performed at the Bluebird Theater on Sept. 21. Before the show, we spoke with Cosentino and Bruno about working with Gagel, how insomnia played a major role in Cosentino's songwriting and how even her grandma misunderstands the band's lyrics.

Stream the interview above and read highlights below.

On working with pop producer Wally Gagel for "California Nights":

Bethany Cosentino: "One of the amazing things about Wally and working with him as a producer is that he’s a pop producer. He’s produced a ton of pop stuff like Miley Cyrus and Jessica Simpson. He also writes a lot of pop music, so he has an ear for pop and what is really catchy. But at the same time he has a respect for true artistry and not just making a commercial pop song."

Bobb Bruno: "He’s recorded, engineered and mixed bands like Superchunk, Sebadoh and Lou Barlow’s stuff. He understands both worlds. Bethany and I are both interested in pop music but also in underground indie and noisier stuff."

On suffering from insomnia:

Cosentino: "I’ve been dealing with insomnia since I was 13. It’s always been very difficult for me to unwind at night.

"There's a song on the record called 'Sleep Won’t Ever Come,' that I literally wrote after staying awake for almost two days. I have this room in my house where I write and keep all my music stuff. I remember going in there in pajamas and being like, ‘How do you write a song about not sleeping?’ And then I thought, ‘Well, you just write about the way you currently feel like because you haven’t slept in two days.’

"A lot of artistic people you usually find are are insomniacs. Or vampires. Or both."

On the duality of Best Coast's music:

Cosentino: "My grandma … she was like: 'I just love your music! It's so happy, it makes me so happy!' I just remember thinking, 'She obviously doesn’t listen to the lyrics!'

"Melodically I feel like a lot of songs are [upbeat], but thematically it teeters on the more melancholy aspects of life."

Bruno: "If you listen to a lot of Beach Boys songs, their music can be really uplifting … or on a different day you can listen to the same song and listen to the lyrics and it can be a totally depressing song. I feel like our music has that same kind of duality."

Cosentino: "'Don't Worry Baby,' that song is about a dude crashing his car in a drag race! When you listen to that song, you're not thinking about that."