As much as Crazy for You was highly-commended by Pitchfork and NME, it was slated by other for it’s simplistic lyrics, particularly the mention of Bethany’s now self-parodical cat, Snacks. Having been portrayed by the press as a cat-obsessed stoner-girl, and with her relationship with Wavves frontman Nathan Williams being closely followed, Bethany retreated to LA with Bobb Bruno, the other half of Best Coast, to write and record a second album.
Ditching the lo-fi production of their previous effort, the band have brought in record producer Jon Brion to aid their much-anticipated second release. The result is The Only Place, and will be released on the 14th May. The band are about to start a run of US and UK shows, including a headline show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and Bethany is feeling more confident than ever.
What have you done differently with The Only Place compared to Crazy for you?
Sonically, it’s very different. It’s not a lo-fi record; we didn’t want to make another one of those. We wanted to make something brighter and cleaner and more produced sounding. We recorded at Capitol studios in LA, and we basically wanted to utilise every tool that they had there. Lyrically, it’s less about romance and trying to figure that out, it’s more about figuring life out. It’s about different emotions that I started to feel from touring and being away from home so much, so it was inspired from a very homesick place.
r Yeah, a lot of songs on the album are about California. How homesick do you get?
I was particularly homesick at the point of writing the album, because I had been touring for almost two years, and I was spending so much time away from home. It was really intense, and part of writing the record was to help me get over it, and help me grow. It’s more about figuring out how to handle the chaos that comes along with this job. Now I’m better with travelling, and I focus more on what I have to do for work, and less about what my friends are doing back home.
What do you miss most about California?
I miss the weather, so if I’m in places that are cold, I definitely miss the warmth. I don’t mind the rain or the cold, for a little bit. We did a tour that was in the winter, and it was absolutely awful. It was the dead of winter in the US, and I was just like ‘I can’t tour like this anymore.’ I also miss being in my own house, and being in my own bed, and using my own bath products.
You’re spending some time in the UK this year for your tour, how does England compare to California?
I love London. I’m getting a lot more time off this trip, or at least more time to explore and do things. Yesterday I walked through London for hours, and got to walk through different cities and different neighbourhoods, and we’ve just really enjoyed being here. We have a good fanbase in the UK, and our gigs are always pretty good.
Do you have any favourite British artists?
I’m actually really bad with new music. I like all the typical English bands, like the Smiths. I literally only listen to Fleetwood Mac, and they’re British, so there you go.
Were you prepared for the success of Crazy for You, and the attention it would bring?
I didn’t expect it at all, and I think that’s why I started to feel the way I did. I had just dropped out of college, and I was working retail in a soap store. I started this band, and then next thing I knew I was performing as a professional musician, and life just completely flipped over. It got me down a little bit because I didn’t know how to react to the success. So this record is really a reaction to having to see myself in a different light, and being criticised in a different way. I was growing up when the band started; I was only 22, so to try and make changes to yourself in a spotlight is really hard. I think that writing the record is really therapeutic for me, and it’s helped me get over a lot of those things.
Who was involved with the song-writing for The Only Place?
I write all the songs myself. Me and Bobb have decided that we don’t ever really intend to write together, it doesn’t really work for us that way. It’s easier when one person is creating the blue-print for something, and hands it over to be completed.
Your lyrics are still very personal, do you worry about how the public will respond to them, after the criticism of Crazy for You?
Somebody always tries to put a spin on things, and say “this is what I think it means” but that’s the point of music, to have your own interpretation of it. Because my lyrics are so straight forward, I think I’m not giving you a lot to imagine. When people go in depth and try to figure out what things mean, they should just try and take it at face value. I was homesick, that’s what this record is about.
You worked with record producer Jon Brion on the new record. What affect did his input have?
Working with Jon was really different for us. Our first record took two weeks to make, and this took 6 months. It was kind of a reaction to being in Capitol Studios, and having all of it to our advantage. Jon really taught us to relax, and not freak out about making the second record, because the pressure was definitely on. Sonically I think he enhanced our sound, and make it more crisp and clean, which we really wanted to do.
You’ve changed the live line-up since Crazy for You, how has it affected the live shows?
It’s much bigger-sounding live, and we did that because the record is a lot bigger. We definitely just wanted to do something different and change it up, to make a fuller, stronger band.
Do you feel more confident in the new line-up?
I do, yeah. I just feel more confident in general. Travelling so much and touring so much has given me a new found confidence. I remember when we first started playing how nervous I was, and I never knew what to say to the audience or how to get a crowd to react to things, and I don’t feel like that anymore. I know pretty much exactly what I’m doing, or at least I think I do.
What’s the story behind The Only Place artwork?
It’s actually a piece of art from some sheet music from 1921. It’s called “I love California.’ I saw the picture and thought it was really cute and cool, and my publicist send over a bunch of mock-ups for album art, and that was one of them. I hadn’t even told them that I had seen it, so I thought it was a sign and that it should be the artwork.
You collaborated with Drew Barrymore for the Our Deal video, how did that come about?
We met Drew Barrymore at one of our shows in LA, and she was a really big fan. We didn’t explicitly speak about doing anything together, but we exchanged phone numbers and stayed in touch. MTV does this thing called Super-Video, where they pair famous actresses and producers together to make music videos. They contacted Drew, and she totally wanted to do it, and she cast the whole thing. It was a really awesome experience, the video got a lot of attention, and I think it really helped our band a lot.
You also collaborated with Urban Outfitters on a clothing line. How did that come about?
It actually just kind of fell into my lap. I was approached and asked if I’d like to do a line for Urban Outfitters, and I was like “uh….yeah, that’d be really cool.” The pieces were all inspired by pieces of clothing, or something that I saw in film or television. There’s a dress that’s called the “Cher” dress, which is inspired by a dress that Cher wears in the film “Clueless”
You’ve got a UK tour coming up, what can we expect from the new live set-up?
We’ve got an extra person on stage now, and I think that makes a massive difference. We’ve also got a lot of new material, so it’s going to be nice being able to choose the setlist more carefully, and not have to play the exact same songs every night. It’s going to be good.