While demo'ing songs for The Only Place, Best Coast's new album, singer Bethany Cosentino sat down at an electric keyboard and, "just as a fun thing," banged out a cover of "Rhiannon," her favorite Fleetwood Mac song. A few months later, while deep in the recording process for her LP, Cosentino and guitarist Bobb Bruno were tapped to reinterpret the 1975 tune for a Fleetwood Mac covers album, Just Tell Me That You Want It: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac, set for release on August 14th. The album, which features takes on the iconic band's songs by a wide-ranging set of artists, from MGMT to members of ZZ Top, was a particularly meaningful opportunity for Cosentino.
"I feel a close connection in the dynamic of that band to my own band," she tells Rolling Stone. "It's just a really fun thing to honor the band that inspired you so much."
"Rhiannon" is actually the second Fleetwood Mac tune that Best Coast have covered – Cosentino and Bruno recorded a version of the 1979 Tusk track "Storms" for a limited-edition 7" that accompanied The Only Place. The new cover was recorded with little preparation. "We just randomly did it in the studio," Cosentino explains. "We recorded the instruments there, and I did the vocals at a different studio. It was just kind of a spur-of-the moment thing."
Like the band's own music, Best Coast's rendition of "Rhiannon" is wistful and loose, a far cry from its somber original. "I think when you cover a song, you shouldn't do it exactly the same way as the original," says Cosentino, who anchored the arrangement with a spare piano line. "You should always have your own take on it." For Cosentino, who exclusively plays guitar in Best Coast but learned piano first, switching to the keys was a large part of the song's appeal. "Playing guitar can kind of get a little bit repetitive," she says. "Doing it on piano was our way of changing it up, and also that's not something anybody's ever heard from us ... I was just like 'OK, I know how to play the piano. We might as well use it for a song.'"
Cosentino became acquainted with Fleetwood Mac from an early age. "My mom was a huge, huge Fleetwood Mac fan," she says. "She dressed like Stevie Nicks when she was in her twenties. She had this very witchy Stevie vibe." In fact, Cosentino says that the Fleetwood Mac singer's fashion sense served as the principal inspiration for her new clothing line for Urban Outfitters, released in the spring. "I honestly spend hours on the Internet looking at pictures of her," she admits. "I don't necessarily dress up as much as she did. I like to keep things laid back and calmed down. She overdid it a little. Onstage, she wore top hats and crazy boots. I don't really walk around in top hats."
Cosentino has never met Nicks ("I would lose my mind," she says), but she's hoping that her participation on the covers album might catch a certain someone's ear. "I'm sure Fleetwood Mac are aware this record is happening. Maybe they'll hear it and think it's cool, and then Stevie Nicks will want to be my best friend."
One icon Cosentino did recently work with is Iggy Pop: the singer joined up with the punk vet to record "Let's Boot and Rally," which is set to be featured on the July 8th episode of HBO's True Blood. Cosentino's reaction when first approached with this unexpected pairing? "I was like 'OK, that's really bizarre and awesome and I totally want to do it,'" she recalls saying. The two musicians have never met — Iggy recorded his vocals in Spain, while Cosentino laid hers down in Los Angeles — but they exchanged words through, of all places, press releases. "In his he was like,' Hey, Bethany,' and in mine I was like, 'Hey, Iggy,'" she says. "It's just really awesome!"
Listen to Best Coast's version of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon":