Al­ways the right age to make mu­sic

Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino swaps tips with an 11-year-old bass player. Rock on.


For nearly a decade, Bethany Cosentino has been vividly chron­i­cling the ro­mance and en­nui of 20some­thing life as the front­woman of Los An­ge­les’ Best Coast.

But with her lat­est project, the Glen­dale na­tive, now 31, is turn­ing her at­ten­tion to a dif­fer­ent de­mo­graphic.

“Best Kids” is the first al­bum of chil­dren’s mu­sic from Best Coast, which also in­cludes gui­tarist Bobb Bruno. Re­leased last month through Ama­zon Mu­sic, the 11-track set com­ple­ments char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally fuzzed­out ren­di­tions of clas­sics like “Rain­bow Con­nec­tion” and “When You Wish Upon a Star” with Best Coast orig­i­nals such as “Ice Cream

Moun­tain” (where “all the trees are made of sprin­kles”) and “Cats & Dogs,” a clev­erly phrased mes­sage song about how “any­one can love any­one that they want.”

There’s also a newly imag­ined ver­sion of “When I’m With You” — a win­some cut from the band’s 2010 de­but, “Crazy for You” — with guest vo­cals from girls who joined Best Coast dur­ing a re­cent con­cert ben­e­fit for Girlschool, an L.A.-based or­ga­ni­za­tion that seeks to “present cre­ative, in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary women-for­ward ex­pe­ri­ences on the fore­front of cul­ture,” ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

Asked about her goal with “Best Kids,” Cosentino said she wanted to make “a record for kids that isn’t your typ­i­cal chil­dren’s al­bum — some­thing that had a bit of an edge but was also joy­ous and fun and upbeat.

“No of­fense if you like the ‘Frozen’ sound­track, but I was think­ing about younger peo­ple who maybe don’t grav­i­tate to­ward the typ­i­cal stuff,” added the singer, whose band will per­form Satur­day with the Ban­gles at down­town’s Per­sh­ing Square park.

To hear more about her con­nec­tion to those kids, I sat down on a re­cent after­noon with Cosentino and Alia Briglia, an 11-year-old alum of L.A.’s Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls who now stud­ies bass at the School of Rock in Venice.

Briglia’s thoughts on the “Frozen” sound­track?

“I’ve heard it way too many times,” she said with a weary grin.

Cosentino laughed. “See?”

What sparked your in­ter­est in mu­sic?

Alia Briglia: I saw the movie “School of Rock” a few years ago, and I thought it was re­ally cool that a girl was play­ing the bass. So the next time my dad went to Gui­tar Cen­ter ... I was just, like, “Hey, can we go to the bass room? I think I want to try it.” And then for Christ­mas I got a bass.

Bethany Cosentino: I re­mem­ber see­ing the Dis­tillers and think­ing it was re­ally cool that there were women play­ing punk mu­sic. That was re­ally the first time I ever saw that.

Did you take lessons of some kind?

Cosentino: I got my first gui­tar when I was 13, and a lot of my friends were tak­ing lessons from this guy in our town, Hec­tor. Ba­si­cally we’d make these mix CDs of songs that we wanted to learn, then take it to him and he’d teach us the songs. So I learned to play gui­tar to Blink-182 songs and Green Day songs — just very sim­ple pop-punk power chords, which for the most part is still what I play.

What kind of mu­sic do you like, Alia?

Briglia: I don’t re­ally have a pref­er­ence in genre, but I re­ally like the Bea­tles. I like how each al­bum they sort of have a dif­fer­ent style. Be­fore I took bass lessons, I took piano, and I learned “Lucy in the Sky With Di­a­monds,” and I thought it was a re­ally cool song, so I started lis­ten­ing to their other songs.

Did you learn to play any oth­ers?

Briglia: I learned “Eight Days a Week,” but then I for­got it.

Cosentino: I for­get songs I learn all the time. It’s fine.

At School of Rock, you’re tak­ing lessons, but you’re also per­form­ing, right?

Briglia: In the per­for­mance pro­gram, you’re in a band with peo­ple where you work for like three months on 10 songs. Then at the end of the three months, you get to play a club. It’s re­ally fun.

Bethany, do you re­mem­ber your first per­for­mance?

Cosentino: When I was re­ally young, I sang at school and at church. But my dad’s a mu­si­cian, and there was this restau­rant in Glen­dale called the Rusty Pel­i­can. I al­ways used to go sit in with my dad there and sing Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be.” [To Briglia] I must’ve been around your age, and it was a bar. They’d be, like, “OK, she can come in to sing the song — but then she has to leave.” It was so ex­cit­ing.

Briglia: Some of my friends, even though they’re in the per­for­mance pro­gram, still are a bit shy. I re­mem­ber at my first per­for­mance pro­gram show, there was one singer in our group, and she was re­ally stiff; she didn’t re­ally move a lot. But now she ac­tu­ally moves around on stage. She’s grown a lot.

Cosentino: I was so ner­vous when I started out. I never knew what to do with my hands when I wasn’t play­ing gui­tar, or how to talk to peo­ple.

Briglia: Some­times I’m tired af­ter­wards be­cause my feet start to re­ally hurt.

Do you guys spend a lot of time prac­tic­ing?

Cosentino: Not re­ally, if we’re be­ing hon­est. For me, prac­tice is when I’m writ­ing, or if we’re prac­tic­ing for a show. But I don’t sit around and tinker with the gui­tar the way I used to.

Briglia: I’m sort of forced to.

Cosentino: That’s good, though! Do you sing at all?

Briglia: I don’t take lessons for it, but I sing.

Cosentino: Can you sing and play at the same time? That’s hard to do.

Briglia: I can. But I found out some­thing from Jake, my bass teacher, which is that Jimi Hen­drix, when he first started singing and play­ing, he wasn’t very good at it. So he made the song “Fire” so that he just played gui­tar and then he just sang.

How did you start writ­ing your own songs?

Cosentino: I think for me it was when I dis­cov­ered Gwen Ste­fani. All I ever saw be­fore that was the Bea­tles and the Rolling Stones, and so I was, like, “OK, I guess this is just what guys do?” But see­ing No Doubt, the “Don’t Speak” video, I re­al­ized she was telling this story that hap­pened to her. You can tell your own sto­ries. So then I started to mess around and write. It wasn’t good. But it was me learn­ing how to do it.

Briglia: I wrote one song when I was 8. I was sit­ting on my grandma’s porch, and I just started writ­ing a song about na­ture. And then I wrote an­other one, which was about best friends.

Cosentino: It was al­most ther­a­peu­tic for me be­cause I’d talk about things I was go­ing through — boys or what­ever it was at the time. It’s crazy to me now that it was ever some­thing that didn’t seem like it was pos­si­ble for a woman to do.

Briglia: Did you ever feel like you were go­ing to be un­suc­cess­ful in your ca­reer?

Cosentino: I still feel like that some­times. Suc­cess, it’s such a com­pli­cated thing. But at the end of the day, I just love mak­ing mu­sic, and I love to cre­ate things for peo­ple to re­late to and think, “I’ve felt that way too — I’m glad I’m not the only one.” Hav­ing that abil­ity is what keeps me go­ing even when I’m sort of down on my­self. That’s why you keep try­ing.

Also: Free wa­ters in the green room.

Cosentino: Lots of free wa­ters.

Myung J. Chun Los An­ge­les Times

BETHANY COSENTINO tells 11-year-old Alia Briglia: “At the end of the day, I just love mak­ing mu­sic.”

Best Coast

L.A. ROCK duo Best Coast has re­leased an al­bum for kids. It’s a mix of tra­di­tional songs and orig­i­nals.

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