Talking surf-rock, girl bands, blockbuster music festivals and the sounds of California. Summer must be here.
California-native surf-rock band Best Coast has been invited to play at the Orion Festival in Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ. Metallica fans may not know it, but they’re getting more than they bargained for with music from the only female-fronted band of the entire festival, as duo Beth Cosentino and Bobb Bruno showcase their new album, “The Only Place.”
Here, Bruno fields questions from Two.One.Five Magazine’s Parissa Zecher.
Two.One.Five Magazine: How did growing up in Los Angeles, California influence your musical style and unique sound? Could you touch upon your musical influences for your unique sound (For example the reverb and echo used in the album, “Crazy for You,” that appears to emulate a 60’s girl band)?
Bobb Bruno: Growing up in LA, there are so many different scenes, you get exposed to lots of different music. Our parents were into stuff like Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Steely Dan which we are definitely influenced by. Then there are other things like surf music, skate punk from the beach areas, lowrider oldies/slow jams from east LA/echo park, Los Angeles and Orange County punk bands, this all influenced us. The reverb use was influenced by Phil Spector’s productions, Beach Boys, Jesus & Mary Chain. Not trying to emulate anything, just trying to have a bit of that vibe in our music because it’s something we really like.
215: “Do You Love Me Like You Used To?” contains lyrics that are incredibly powerful. They seem to tell of a very personal story, of an awakening, and a question of identity. This song seems to touch on sadness and lusting on the past with emotions that seem to be consuming and tolling. Could you delve into the creation of this song?
BB: This song originally had a different title and lyrics. As we got closer to being done with the record, Bethany wrote new lyrics, more about what she was going through at the time of recording, the old lyrics were about something else. The bass line was influenced by the Eagles song “One of These Nights,” the outro drums are a nod to “Come as You Are” by Nirvana, which i also did on our song, “Goodbye,” from Crazy for You.
215: I read that you have been friends with Bethany Cosentino since you were a teenager, what’s it like working together?
BB: Working with Bethany is great. We each work on our own parts alone at home, then get together when it’s time to record. It’s so much better than sitting in a room together trying to hash things out. I think we are both good self-editors so when we get to the studio we have a pretty good idea of how everything should be.
215: What is it that draws you to 60’s beach music? Your music has a 60’s, surf-pop feel; what were your musical influences from that decade?
BB: Everything. The production, the arrangements, the harmonies. Beach Boys, Girl Group stuff, The Ventures, Terry & the Bunnies, Jan and Dean, Righteous Brothers.
215: What do you think about the Beach Boys reunion LP, “That’s Why God Made the Radio”? Have you checked it out? Do you think that your music incorporates similarities to their music?
BB: I’ve only heard a few songs from their new record but I liked them a lot. They still sound like the Beach Boys! We certainly try. My use of Baritone guitar is directly influenced by them, also the vibraphone parts on “Dreaming My Life Away” were influenced by “‘Til I Die.” With the slide guitar on “No One Like You” we were going for something similar to “Let’s Go Away for Awhile”, I could go on and on…
215: What makes your 60’s feel different or unique from classic bands like the Beach Boys; In other words, you are incorporating the “oldies” but have been very successful with a younger crowd. What accounts for that success and helps to update the sound? With a band like, The Beach Boys, that have been around forever, but are still able to produce a fresh sound after all these years, does this give you motivation for a next album or for your own music?
BB: For sure, the Beach Boys will always be inspiring to us. I think the younger kids are drawn to Beth’s lyrics because she is singing about things that people can relate to on a personal level. The music is mostly upbeat even if the lyrics are not. It’s a nice blend. We are influenced by a lot of things that came after that era and our music is just trying to combine all the different things that we like.
215: How has Jon Brion helped you accomplish this new feel to your second album? What has he contributed to this album and what has your collaboration with him brought to this new album specifically?
BB: Jon didn’t really want to change much of anything about us, he just wanted the record to sound the best that it could, which is something we also wanted to achieve. More low end, more fidelity. If we wanted specific sounds, he could point us in the right direction or if it was something we couldn’t play, he could because he’s so great at everything. Most of the songs were recorded with the three of us playing together. Me on drums, Bethany on guitar, and Jon playing some kind of percussion. He did a lot of subtle treatments (tape delay, reverb chambers, plates, etc.) with Bethany’s vocals without coloring them too much. Instrumentally, he would help move the songs along when they needed or reinforce ideas we had with other instruments.
215: Previously you had a more indie feel to your music if we were to categorize the genre; however, with this new album, things have shifted. How would you describe your sound now with “The Only Place?”
BB: I think there is just more fidelity, less distortion and lighter reverb but I don’t think we’ve changed all that much. There are more ballads. This time we got to record in an amazing historic studio. Why not make the most of it? We didn’t want to make Crazy For You 2, but we are still the same band.
Learn more about AC’s Orion and More Festival lineup and ticket info on June 23rd and 24th on their website, or wait for Best Coast to come to you when they headline their own show at the Union Transfer in Philly on July 16th!
Band photo by David Black. Images provided by Life Or Death PR & Management.