For avowed TV junkie Bethany Cosentino, there has always been only one Holy Grail — Seinfeld, her favorite series of all time, which she still continues to watch whenever it's on. "I even take it with me on tour," says the Best Coast bandleader. "I'll just bring a bunch of discs of Seinfeld with me, and I'll watch 'em on my computer before I go to bed. And it instantly makes me feel like I'm back home in my own bed, even though I'm in a bunk on a tour bus."
Why is Cosentino so addicted to the vintage program? Because all the characters are flawed, and dealing with their own quirky anxieties, she says. And she finds Jason Alexander's neurotic George Costanza the most captivating.
"I can definitely relate to some of the stupid stuff he does, where you just look at him and go, 'George! How could you?' But then I get why he could, because life is just so silly sometimes. And I've always felt like an awkward outsider, and it's very nice to know that I'm continuing to be an awkward outsider."
That's why Best Coast fans are so faithful, the artist believes. For three chiming albums now, she and guitarist Bobb Bruno have sketched eccentric little vignettes that practically read like Seinfeld episodes. Unabashedly chipper songs often focus on snacking, couch-surfing, binge-watching, and/or smoking pot — no serious or scary subjects at all.
California Nights, the duo's third effort, initially seems to be a breakup album ("Wasted Time," "Fading Fast," "Fine Without You"), but finds Cosentino dipping into uplifting therapy-speak on "Jealousy," "Feeling OK" and "When Will I Change." But don't read too much into things, she warns.
"The thing is, I have always put my personal life out there, because it's just what I write about," says the singer, who swears that she's currently quite happy. "But I was writing songs about relationship problems even when I wasn't having them. So I definitely write about things where at times I'm like, 'Is this sharing too much?' But I also don't believe in censoring myself.
"My main goal has always been to just write about things that anybody of any age, of any gender, could listen to and say, 'I totally get this.'"
Cosentino achieved another, less expected goal at this year's South by Southwest festival in Austin, when a magazine-editor friend invited her to a private party being thrown for the HBO comedy Veep and introduced her to Julia Louis-Dreyfus. "She was the nicest woman on planet Earth!" she enthuses. "I showed her a photo of me in 2009, dressed up like Elaine for Halloween, and she was like, 'Oh. My God! You have to send that to me — I have to post it!' And she posted it while I was standing next to her. Then she posted a selfie of me and her. My phone instantly blew up with texts from friends and family.
"It was not only the highlight of my South by Southwest, but of pretty much my life!"