A Teenager in Rock: The Regrettes’ Lydia Night (Part One)
Los Angeles-based rockers the Regrettes came roaring out of the gate with their debut single, “Hey Now” in 2015. The song introduced the group’s template: hooky, catchy classic pop delivered in aggressive riot grrl style, a sound that draws equally from pre-Beatles Brill Building pop and razor-sharp 1970s punk. Onstage the young band – leader, guitarist, singer and songwriter Lydia Night is 17 – plays with a power and self-assurance one might not expect from relatively inexperienced musicians.
But dig a bit deeper and you’ll find that the Regrettes – Night plus lead guitarist Genessa Gariano, bassist Sage Chavis and new drummer Drew Thomsen – have a collective grasp and understanding of rock and pop that belies their tender ages. The group has turned in knowing covers of Sweet’s glam classic “Fox on the Run” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Their readings effectively erase any perceived lines between punk, glam, pop, hard rock and any other substyles of music that influence the group.
After a run of dates in England and Scotland, the quartet returns to the U.S. for an East Coast tour leg that brings them to Atlanta’s Masquerade; the band’s West Coast dates – punctuated by another quick trip to the UK to play a high-profile Reading Festival set – will keep them busy into September.
The heavy-touring group has still found time to cut tracks in the studio. The Regrettes released the Hey! EP in 2015, following that up with a string of singles; the full-length Feel Your Feelings Fool! was released in 2017. And in February, the group returned with a five-song EP, Attention Seeker.
In between tour dates, the Regrettes’ leader Lydia Night spent a few moments in conversation about her group’s past, present and future.
How did you get your start in music? Do you come from a musical family?
My parents don’t play anything, but I wouldn’t say they aren’t musical in many other aspects. They’re huge music nerds; they kind of taught me everything I know, taste-wise. My dad took me to a Madonna concert when I was five, and that’s why I started playing music.
What kind of things were you listening to growing up?
A lot of the Ramones; that was my first favorite band. That, and a lot of the classics, like the Clash and Sex Pistols; I listened to that stuff when I was really young. And then when I got a little older, I got more into the Beatles, the Stones, and David Bowie: all the essentials. And then, I got really in-depth into the ’60s, the Beach Boys and then girl groups like the Crystals and the Ronettes.
And then, when I was in sixth or seventh grade, my mom took me to see a documentary about Patty Schemel, the drummer of Hole [P. David Ebersole’s 2011 film Hit So Hard], and that totally opened up my world. It changed the way I was writing music. I was just obsessed with Hole and Bikini Kill; I got super-into that.
And now, I’m a lot more into folk. I always loved Fleetwood Mac growing up, but I really do now even more. And I love Joni Mitchell. So I don’t know; it’s all over the place.
It seems that you could have chosen to go in any number of directions with your own original music…
How did the band come together in 2015? Did you know the other members before forming the band, or was it put together by management?
We all knew each other from about five years ago, I think. We all went to music school together, and then we reconnected in 2015 at a show that all of us played. I was in another band that ended up breaking up, and they [Chavis, Gariano and original drummer Maxx Morando] were in a band. So I was like, “Oh. We should just all form a band.”
How did the group get signed by Warner Brothers?
Right around the same time as that show, I had been hit up by our now-managers; they knew Mike Elizondo and brought me in for a meeting with him. I met him on a Wednesday, and he offered us this deal on a Friday. It was the the fastest turnaround; he said, “I think that’ll be the only time in my career that ever happens!” Mike is the one who produced our record, and he’s also our A&R rep at Warner.