Beginning as a manifestation experiment and ending as a real document of a better life, Always Tomorrow comprises bright, Fleetwood-fresh rock diamonds concocted by frontwoman Bethany Cosentino and bandmate Bobb Bruno. We asked Cosentino about the odyssey of the venerated duo’s fourth album.
Different Light is such a buoyant way to begin the album – you’re outlining a new perspective, but making it clear you’re not thumping a lectern. Did you create it at the beginning of the writing phase, or closer to the end?
It was actually one of the last songs I wrote for the record. I wanted to write a very upbeat, Bangles-esque, Go-Go’s-esque song, and I wanted to express that there’s a lot of talk on this record of these changes that I’ve gone through and this journey from dark to light, but I really wanted to make sure people understood that it’s a preface: ‘What you’re about to hear is just one person’s story and I’m not telling you that yours has to look exactly like mine does.’
The clip for single For The First Time appears to have been filmed in front of the same arched window that’s on the cover of the album. What’s the significance of this location?
That house, that was my home – I lived there for like two years – and I went through a lot of changes in that house: I had a lot of ups and downs, I saw a lot of growth. I worked really hard on myself in that house. I recently put it up for sale and it just so happened that while we were getting ready to shoot the album cover, and make a video, and do all these things around this record which is very much about me growing and the journey that I’ve been on for the last few years, it seemed to make a lot of sense to utilise that house.
I also just really loved that window; it provided a lot of solitude for me when I was going through hard times. I would sit on my couch and I would look over to my right and see that window with the view, and it just always made me feel really good and really grounded. So I really wanted to pay homage to that window and what that house literally housed for me, in my own self.
In For The First Time you sing, “I used to think that taking care of myself would become a real bore.” Did you ever think that the parts of yourself that people liked (or that you liked) were tangled up in self-destructive behaviour?
It was more that I always thought that living a life in which I woke up early in the morning and made myself a smoothie and walked my dog, that life to me seemed… ‘How do people dothat?’ ‘Cos I woke up most days hungover, hadn’t slept much, and the idea of waking up before seven o’clock in the morning… I was like, ‘What the actual f-ck?’ I never really thought that I could have a life that looked the way it does now. I think the thing I’ve come to realise now, two years and some months into sobriety, is that my life is more fun now than it ever has been. Because I am actually connected to myself, and I actually have a relationship with myself, and I don’t need to use drugs and alcohol in this way that I used to help me get through the day. I also can look at it now and realise, that sh-t was never helping me. It was hindering me. But, it was also the solution I had for my problems at the time.
Do you look back at that old Bethany and feel frustrated with her, or do you have empathy for her?
I feel so much compassion for myself at that period in my life. I had to really make peace with a lot of things that I did, a lot of people that I hurt, including myself, and I also had to accept it as part of my journey. Part of what this record is about is acceptance. We’re taught that our mistakes are who we are, but they’re not! And that’s why I named this record Always Tomorrow, because there’s always tomorrow to do things differently, to give yourself another chance, to try harder, to f-ck it up! I look at the old me and I wish I could have told her, it’ll all be okay, y’know?
There are some super-high notes in Wreckage– how much did you think about pushing your voice across the album?
I feel like on this record I really thought of myself as a singer – a singer-songwriter! I play guitar, I do what I know how to do, and I do it well enough that it’s become my job, y’know. But I have always been a singer, and my voice has always been my main instrument. But in the beginning of this band, I was always insecure about it, and I didn’t want to really showcase my vocals. On this record I was like, ‘Dude, f-ck it! I’m a really good singer! I know I’m good at it and I know that if I really push myself I can do things with my voice that will not only surprise the audience but it f-cking surprises me, too!
The lyrics in Everything Has Changed – which you’ve said you created as a vision of a life you wanted to lead – go: “I escape to Witch Mountain every day.” Escape To Witch Mountain is this forgotten Disney movie from the ‘70s about telekinetic kids; did you wish for special powers?
My mum was always very New Agey, and she was very in tune with that spiritual side of herself, so I was exposed to it at a young age. But around the time I wrote this song I was getting very into tarot readings, and I was using a lot of crystals, and sageing a lot. Because again, keep in mind: I was very depressed and I was trying literally f-cking anything that I could think of to try to make myself feel better: anything I could think of to try to get me out of my head, I tried it. So this house that I was living in at the time was very mystical, up in the hills and away from the city, and so I used to refer to it as Witch Mountain. And I think I kind of nailed it, ‘cos I wrote a song about a life I didn’t really have, and now I have it, so… yeah, I guess I am a powerful little witch. I made it happen!
Always Tomorrow by Best Coastis out now via Concord.
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