Best Coast’s latest album, California Nights, was released back in May 2015 and was so good that they’re still touring it. Their easy breezy sound is relatable to a lot of people and brings to mind early evening beach hangouts, unlimited snacks, and beer coolers as far as the eye can see. Since the release of their first album Crazy For You in 2010, they’ve expanded from a duo to a mostly-duo with a few added touring musicians to flush out their live sound. The band recently announced a tour (with Wavves) which will bring them to New Orleans this month, so we got in touch with guitarist Bobb Bruno to shoot the shit.
You guys are touring with Wavves, which is exciting. How did that pairing come to be and were you fans of Wavves before this all came together?
Bobb Bruno: Yeah, we did a tour with Wavves in, I think it was 2010, and we’ve been fans of them for a long time. When we did the first tour we were both trios, and since then both bands have expanded so it’ll be interesting to do a tour again and hear how things are different.
Best Coast has a reputation for being a band that’s all about California vibes, cats, and smoking pot. Are you at the point now where you’re just completely sick of that being all anyone talks about when they talk about you?
We’ve definitely had enough cat questions to last us a really long time. The California thing I think is our fault because every album talks about it, so I understand that question still being a big part of interviews for us.
It’s funny how people do latch on to the regional thing. Like in the case of The Ramones I don’t really recall people being like “So, leather jackets and New York, what’s that about?”
[Laughs] Yeah, but I mean it definitely does get mentioned a bit more in our records so it’s a little more understandable.
You’ve been touring quite a bit following the release of California Nights and I’m curious if there are any particular songs off of the album that emerged as being your favorites to play live that maybe you wouldn’t have anticipated.
Yeah, “Sleep Won’t Ever Come” has been a really fun one to play and also “When Will I Change.” Those are probably two of my favorites off the new record that I think live just feel really good when we play them. Especially “When Will I Change” because we rage pretty hard on it, compared to the record.
On the flip side, are there any tracks off the new album that, while writing them, you thought would be a breeze to perform but now you’re like “why do I always fuck up this song ?”
Actually, that happened a lot previously, but with this record that never really happened. I think maybe because we got an extra guitar player so I don’t feel all the pressure is on me. It’s nice to have someone to share the workload and also play off of. It’s harder now to try and remember old songs. Those can be challenging. [Laughs]
Touring is sort of a necessary evil for bands but would you say that you honestly enjoy it? Every time I go on vacation, even if it’s just to visit family, I spend the first two days feeling completely crazy just because I’m out of my routine. How do you not feel like that all of the time while touring ?
Well, you kind of develop your tour routine, and it also really helps that everyone in our band and our crew get along really well. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and our work environment is really relaxed. We’re all really good at reading each other as far as when somebody needs space. And we all really do enjoy each other’s company, so that makes it easy to tour. One of the things I miss about my routine at home, though, is being able to cook my own food, because that’s one of the main things I do when I’m at home. But you learn to compensate when you’re on the road. When we’re not on tour, though, we’re all pretty much homebodies. We don’t really go out much or socialize because that’s all touring is. You’re just around other people 24/7. We’ve learned our limits in terms of how long we can be away from home before it’s unhealthy for us. It took us a few years to figure out that we can be out for about a month before we need to go home and take a break.
You mentioned before being pretty expressive with each other in terms of when you need alone time, but how do you do that when you’re on a tour bus? Do you just throw a blanket over your head or something ?
People just hide in their bunks. You just pull the curtain and that’s basically the universal “do not disturb” sign.
You have a show coming up in New Orleans on February 13th. Have you played New Orleans before?
We played a festival there before that was more skewed towards electronic music. Like I think the only rock bands that played besides us were Surfer Blood and Primus. We had so much fun at that, though. We wanted to stay the next day, even though we didn’t have to play, just because the festival environment was so fun, but we had to leave unfortunately. The night before we played we got to go out and just walk around New Orleans and it was fun.
There has been a lot of hubbub in the news over the past few years about streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. As a musician, what sort of opinions do you have about the new norm of streaming music? Do you feel personally screwed over at all?
I think they just need to pay more. The idea, in and of itself, hasn’t really bothered me. I don’t really use any of those personally, but I know a lot of people in the band do and they kinda look at me like a caveman. If I wanna hear something that I don’t have I’m like “oh, let me go to Youtube,” and they’re like “what, you don’t have Spotify?” But yeah, when you read what artists get paid based on how many times a song has been streamed, it definitely seems like they’re being underpaid. It’s not right. There’s a lot of money and time and work that goes into creating something and people should just be compensated more, but you don’t really have a choice. I mean, you can either participate or you can’t, but because it’s so hard for bands to make money, it is a revenue stream, even if it’s not the most money. So it’s kind of like you take what you can get right now, but hopefully things will change.
I lived in Southern California (Riverside) from the ages of seven to 20 and to this day the main thing I think of when I think of California is the smell of magnolias. What are some of your favorite California smells?
Probably taco trucks. That would be a big one. Right by my house there’s pretty much one every other block and they ’re all really good. That’s definitely something I associate with here. And then also whatever weird plants my neighbors have. I don’t really know what they are, but whenever it’s windy I can definitely smell them and they smell pretty good.
There’s a thing I think a lot about which I refer to as “karaoke fantasies” where I envision myself singing a Whitney Houston song or something and making a room of people cry. As a guitarist, is there any one particular song you’ve fantasized about playing and just really melting everyone’s faces off with?
Definitely “Impossible Germany” by Wilco, which has just the most epic guitar solo and I just love that song. That would easily be number one.
After a tour is completely done and you’re home and unpacked, what’s the first thing you look forward to doing ?
Going to the grocery store and buying stuff to cook.
Any specific meals? Are we talking waffles or like fajitas or something ?
I have a couple staples. What I usually do when I’m cooking is I’ll make enough stuff for the week, that way I don’t have to bother with it. I’ll usually make like one kind of stew, or chili, and then make a couple salad things.
Best Coast will be at the Joy Theater on February 13th with Wavves and Cherry Glazerr . For more info, check out bestcoast.net