Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino Calls Debate 'Some of the Most Entertaining Reality Television I've Ever Watched'
Musicians appear less likely to support Hillary Clinton than recent Democratic nominees for president, and Cosentino has some ideas why.
When frontwoman Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno founded Best Coast in 2009, the SoCal indie rockers hardly seemed the types to get political. But their sun-kissed guitar pop has progressed from its bedroom beginnings, and during 2016, Best Coast expanded its social scope as well.
Like many millennial alternative artists, Cosentino and Bruno pledged their allegiance to Bernie Sanders. They went as far as to join his left-wing “political revolution” in a formal sense, playing a rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in early April.
Now, with Sanders on the sidelines, Best Coast has turned its attention to electing Hillary Clinton… and assuring Donald Trump gets nowhere near the Oval Office. Cosentino has remained actively engaged in the election, rallying the troops as Best Coast continues to promote its 2015 album California Nights. She hopped on the phone with Billboard to discuss her takeaways from Sept. 26’s Clinton-Trump debate, the first of the 2016 cycle.
Now that it's been two days since the first debate, where’s your head at?
Hearing the things that come out of your mouth around this election, it almost feels like you’re talking about a prank television show. I was incredibly nervous before I watched it. I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to watch it. I feel a little bit less so now that it’s over.
Watching it made me realize Donald Trump is 1 million percent incapable of doing anything other than being Donald Trump. To be honest, I don’t know how you could still be undecided, but I know people who were but watched that and said, “OK, there’s absolutely no way I’m ever voting for him.”
What do you think about what transpired at the debate?
I think what we saw was a woman who is incredibly skilled and trained for the job, knows how to have a political debate. She doesn’t have the best track record but knows what she’s doing. We have another person… it was like watching an 8-year old boy high on cocaine. I swear to God he was on coke. If he even thinks he stands a chance, he’s going to have to work with someone who tells him, Donald, as an adult man, as an adult human, this is not how you go about debating things. I muted it at one point, and it was like you could still hear him yelling. And you have Hillary being calm, cool, collected, professional Hillary Clinton.
The things they talk about are also important. Donald Trump was not even answering questions. There were times Hillary seemed to deter as well, but that seemed like it was because she couldn’t get a word in without Trump interrupting her. Although it’s scary and it is real, I will say it’s some of the most entertaining reality television I’ve ever watched.
People who are in the boat of “f--- both of them” -- I do hope they continue to watch the debates and see where one person is a politician who is qualified for the job and the other is just a bully with a lot of money and a Twitter account.
How worried are you going forward to November?
I won’t lie -- I’m nervous for sure. What I’m trying to focus on is trying to get everyone I feel I have any influence upon… people are listening. Like, I just registered someone to vote yesterday who wasn’t registered. It’s things like that where I feel we have to make these bold movements we maybe haven’t had to do in the past to ensure he doesn’t win.
I really, really don’t think he will win, but I’m going to do everything I can to vocally inspire people to make sure that doesn’t happen. But there is 100 percent anxiety in me every time I see him talk or see a poll. It’s like a roller coaster -- when does it stop and can we all get off without being completely nauseated?
The two years Obama ran and the year John Kerry ran against Bush, musicians and celebrities seemed to be so vocal for the Democrats. Now, especially with Bernie out, they seem a lot quieter. Have you noticed that? Why do you think it is?
Yeah… I think it’s two things. If Hillary wasn’t a woman, I really don’t think there would be so many people focusing on the things they are. You have to think about how every single person who’s ever held the highest position of power has always f---ed up, always done crazy, shady things. That’s basically what being a politician means… She gets the short end of the stick so much because she’s a woman and she’s had to work so much harder than any man that's ever run for president because in America, it’s something that has to be discussed: Oh, you’re a woman? So that makes you different? That to me is frustrating in itself.
And I also just think that musicians who supported Bernie are now afraid to come out and say they’re now supporting Hillary, because they think it’s a contradiction and people are going to call them out. I really think it’s a matter of swallowing your pride and realizing this isn’t about you, what people comment on your Instagram or anything. What matters now is making sure this country doesn’t go 50, 60 years backwards… I definitely talked shit on Hillary when I was a crazy Bernie supporter. I said a lot of things where if someone showed it to me now, like, “Defend this,” I would literally say this is my defense: I don’t want Donald Trump as my president. I still think Hillary has made a lot of bad mistakes and there are a lot of policies she was a part of that are not going. The influence of Bernie is going to be there. When Hillary wins, Bernie’s going to have to hold her feet to the fire. She’s not going to be able to get away with saying she was going to do things and just not [doing them].
I do think people are afraid of looking two-faced. I’m not gonna name names, but I do know a couple of people within the industry who were very vocal about Bernie, who are now saying absolutely nothing about the election, but I do know they’re voting for Hillary.
You mentioned you’ve voted in every presidential election since you turned 18. What first got you interested in politics?
When I first turned 18, the first year I was able to vote, it was against George W. Bush. So okay, f--- this guy. My whole thing with politics has always been: defeat the bad guy. And I know that doesn’t sound like the most eloquent way of discussing politics, but where I was raised it was kind of upper-middle class white and a lot of conservative people. I grew up around a lot of people who were homophobic and racist. I went to school where it was predominantly Koreans and Armenians and the Koreans and the Armenians would always fight. We lived in this little kinda white community but everybody was like, there’s all this crazy racism and crazy sh-t happening. To see that at a young age, it made me wonder why people are racist and homophobic; why don’t people want everyone to live a life they enjoy?
The biggest passion of mine when I became old enough to vote was anything involving women’s reproductive health -- Roe v. Wade and all that stuff. I would never tell someone what decision to make, but that is the point of a woman’s right to choose -- that you have that decision. And if that decision is taken away, I don’t even understand what will happen. That’s always kept my attention on what’s going on in politics; I would be so mad if anything ever stripped those rights away from women, so what if I just sat around and did nothing?
It’s not just the insane immigration things, the blatant racism and the horrible things he’s putting out into the world -- it’s also disdain for women where he’s like, you’re not a hot model? I don’t care about you and I think you should be punished if you have an abortion. I am never gonna let this guy tell me what I can and cannot do with my body. So I want everyone to remember -- Supreme Court. Those are the two words we need to think about.