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On eve of co-headlining tour, a double interview with Wavves' Nathan Williams and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino (Part One)

If the 2000s have an indie power couple à la Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, then it has to be Bethany Cosentino and Nathan Williams.  Cosentino is the charismatic singer-songwriter behind L.A.’s Best Coast, whose "Crazy for You" album isn’t just one of last year’s most acclaimed albums, it also proved a commercial success, entering the charts in the top 40; Williams, meanwhile, is the iconoclastic leader of sublime San Diego-bred noise-pop concern Wavves, whose 2010 "King of the Beach" also proved an indie smash, receiving a “Best New Music” rating from Pitchfork.

As followers of their notoriously oversharing Twitter feeds already know, Cosentino and Williams have many things in common: love for cats, Brian Wilson songs, skateboards, baseball hats, Lil Wayne, reverb, their home state of California, surf punk, television and smoking pot among them. But although they share a bed, they have yet to share a stage until now: Friday marks the launch of Best Coast and Wavves’ first ever co-headlining tour (kicking off at Soma in San Diego). In honor of the occasion, the couple recently sat down for their first joint interview — and if their show is as gloriously unhinged, irreverent and funny as the pair is in person, it should prove to be a can’t-miss event. (Note: the freewheeling conversation contained a certain amount of cussing, some words of which we've excised from our relatively family-friendly blog.)

-- Matt Diehl

L.A. Times: So is this your first joint interview?

Nathan Williams:  Yeah. Well, we’ve done interviews…

Bethany Cosentino: With joints!

NW: I actually pre-jointed.

BC: Yeah, he did — puffed an inhaler, then took a hit of the bong.

NW: We’ve done interviews in the same house next to each other.

BC:  We hear each other do interviews a lot.

NW: I can probably answer her questions, and she can answer mine.

LAT: Why are you finally going on tour together?

BC: We’ll get to hang out more. And we like each other’s music. Well, I like his music. If his record [was bad], I may not have had sex with him.

LAT: The satirical blog Hipster Runoff seems to really have it in for you—it seems to have made a cottage industry making fun of your Twitter conversations back and forth. How do you feel about that?

NW: Really, Twitter is our only way of talking when we’re on the road, 'cause we don’t have Facebook.

BC: I don’t give a ... about that guy. I did laugh when Hipster Runoff said “Pitchfork Gives Best Coast Same Score As Wavves To Avoid Relationship Conflict,” but I just don’t need to read it. 

NW: I’m pro “Hipster Runoff”—I think it’s funny. In the end, it just makes both of us bigger and bigger. He can say whatever he wants: It just breeds hate, but it’s always helpful. Anybody that says they hate it probably loves it. That’s just what the Internet is.

LAT: You’re totally public as a couple. Does it bother you when people trash-talk you about your romantic life?

BC: No. We’ve known each other for a really long time so we don’t really think about what people say about us, really.

NW: The first time we dated, we were 17. She lived in Eagle Rock, down the street from where we live now. I was living in San Diego at the time.

BC: I had this friend Hayden who was like, “I’m going down to San Diego this weekend if you want to come with me,” and I was like, “All right.” We just met in San Diego at a party, and then just started hanging out all the time. It was basically a summer fling.

NW: That was a hot summer.

BC: We would take the train to see each other. My mom lived down the street, and we would always steal pills from her. We talked about Wu-Tang a lot, I remember; we went to the [FYF Fest] together. We hung out for a hot second, and then we parted ways for a couple years.

LAT: Why did you break up the first time?

NW: She made me cry in Portland. She was on tour with a band called Bomb Squad.

BC: I dumped him. I was mean to him, apparently: I called him an idiot because he was dancing on the table in a bar. If I was smarter then, I would’ve stuck a dollar bill in his underwear.

LAT: What was your first date?

NW: We stayed at Mario’s house.

BC:  (Laughing) Oh, yeah! Our friend Mario actually put out my first seven-inch single. He does the label Art Fag in San Diego.

LAT: I’m amazed at how much good music comes out of San Diego.

NW: In the past two years, there’s been lots of great stuff—Crocodiles are old homeys of mine. Swami had their run on San Diego for the longest time: Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu… I don’t really like Rocket [From The Crypt]: that band was huge in San Diego, but not really my cut. Jehu was my favorite.

LAT: So what’s up with your cat obsession?

NW: I like cats ‘cause they’re dirty and filthy. Our cats smell like the bottom of a dumpster.

BC: Like a dead dog! We actually have two cats: Chloe and Snacks.

NW: Yeah, Snacks has a Twitter now and is famous, but don’t forget Chloe!

BC: They’re actually both my cats. As you said this morning, “They’re your cats. You need to clean the litter box.”

NW: She doesn’t clean up after them! Both the cats love me, and they hate her, but they’re her cats. She wouldn’t even let Chloe in the house, but I nurtured her, cradled her in my arms, kissed her every night, whispered sweet nothings in her ear …
LAT: You’re both famed for your love of marijuana. What’s the reality of your pot intake?

BC: I haven’t been smoking that much weed lately. I like to take breaks sometimes.

NW: She’s on a heroin kick right now.

BC: Weed just makes us, like, watch more TV. We eat way too much junk food when we’re high together.

NW: Sushi’s good, too, because the consistency in your mouth when you’re stoned is really cool. I get high from the moment I wake up, so I’m probably not a good influence on her. I like drinking, I occasionally dabble with other things, but weed I smoke everyday. But I’m functional—It’s like what Lil Wayne says: “There’s no addict that can do what I do.”

LAT: What else do you guys have in common?

BC: We both dropped out of high school — well, we tested out.

NW: I home-schooled though the last two years, but I got my diploma. I never picked it up though. Then I went to community college, but not even for a second; my favorite class was a swimming class.

BC: I tried to go to college, and then I realized it was just not my thing. Both of our parents are musicians, too. My parents took my middle name, Sharayah, from an Amy Grant song…

NW: And my parents named my brother, Joel, after Billy Joel…

BC: My dad is a session guy — he’s super, super talented: he plays with bands when they do reunion tours. He toured with War when I was a kid, and then he was in Ambrosia. I went to see my dad play with Ambrosia when they opened for the Zombies, and it was really, really awesome. Ambrosia also opened for America, and I love America — “Sister Golden Hair” is my #1 jam. My dad was actually my first drummer! My backing band was my dad and his friends, and it always made me feel really weird.

NW:  My mom teaches music, and my parents met because they were in a band together in the '80s. Their band was called Summer Winds: they had a small hit, and were going to sign to Disney, but turned the deal down because they didn’t want to go pop or something. It’s all come full circle — my mom and dad used to play at Madame Wong’s, and I played my record release there, before it closed.

Check back next week for Part 2 of Pop & Hiss' interview with Nathan Williams and Bethany Cosentino.

Top photo: Nathan Williams of Wavves; credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times.

Bottom photo: Best Coast (Bethany Cosentino, center); credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (8)

This just makes me despise them more. What a bunch of self-entitled twerps.

Ugh sounds angry for some reason unrelated to the quality of Nathan's and Bethany's mucic.

file under: why indie only resonates on a superficial level

Finally a real interview, can't wait for part two.

The only possible world where these two, as the "writer" claims, are comparable to Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, is one where all life ceases to have any meaning whatsoever. A beautifully vacuous claim, perfectly meaningless. Charming. Not to mention that their reign as a power couple lasted throughout the 2000s, the author argues, when they only began getting mention in 2009, so they achieved such brilliance in only one year. Amazing.

Andre and Ugh, why bother reading the article if you don't like either band? Go read hipster runoff instead and post about your hatred for Best Coast and Wavves there.

I for one, find the article funny, lighthearted, and entertaining, just like the music they make. Not all music needs to have some super deep life changing message, some music can exist just for pure enjoyment. Nathan and Bethany are talented musicians making good music and are the newest in a long line of bands that captures the spirit of Southern California (Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, 2Pac, Social Distortion, No Doubt, ...)

"twitter is our only way of talking when we're on the road, since we dont have a facebook" i cannot read any further.
GROSSSSSSS! garfield, weed, ironic t shirts, target commercicals.
i get it.. crummy world.

they talk about weed like rookie junior high school kids who think they're cool because they're breaking mommy and daddy's rules. i smoke everyday but if i saw myself saying this lame s**t in an interview, i'd be so embarrassed. shut up and practice your music...it needs plenty


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