Teen Rockers The Regrettes Embrace Imperfection on Their Whirlwind Debut Album
"It's very rare that a record is made with four people in a room. And I did all of my vocals at the same time, which is super rare," says Lydia Night, lead singer and guitarist for The Regrettes. "But you hear that, which is the best part. You feel like you're there."
A few hours later, The Regrettes are onstage at the Echo, squeezing in one more local show before heading out on tour as the opening act for Sleigh Bells. They play punk-influenced feminist anthems in the vein of predecessors like X-Ray Spex and Bratmobile, made for young people with loads of energy to burn while bobbing up and down on the floor.
The quartet — three girls and one guy, all still in their teens — rip through songs that will appear on their debut album, Feel Your Feelings Fool!, with the adrenaline rush of a whirlwind year pushing them. If anyone had an awesome 2016, it's this band. You could see it onstage at this early November show and you can hear it on their album, which is due out Jan. 13 on Warner Bros. Records.
Their wild ride started last January, when The Regrettes — Lydia Night (lead vocals/guitar), Genessa Gariano (guitar), Sage Chavis (bass) and Maxx Morando (drums) — were still barely a band. But based in part of Night's earlier demos, Warner offered them a deal.
"We were so bad then," Night recalls as if she's remembering an event from the distant past. The band is hanging out inside the Echo's upstairs green room. It's been less than a year since they played their first show together (yes, after they caught major-label attention). A month later, they were making the trek to South by Southwest, a destination for young bands ready to earn national buzz. By April, they were in the studio.
The Regrettes are a product of 2016, the sound of young, socially aware people sharing their frustration and elation with heavy energy and a no-fucks-given attitude. They are also the band you want to hear if you're intent on keeping that spirit alive in 2017. The songs on Feel Your Feelings Fool! are smart, occasionally sarcastic and oftentimes quite endearing. On "A Living Human Girl," Night tackles the pressure of trying to fit into the perfect-girl mold and turns it into an anthem of empowerment. "I fall in love with people once a day," she croons. "Oh, but if you ask me out, I'm still allowed to say no way."
Inside the green room, the voices of The Regrettes overlap. They talk about politics; variations of the word "shock" pop up again and again as they reflect on Donald Trump. They talk about women and music, how they're excited to see more women learning production, how they don't like the "good for a girl" comments.
They're also perturbed by comments such as, "You're good for your age." The Regrettes are young — at the time of the interview, they ranged in age from 16 to 19 — but that's not terribly unusual in the history of rock. Also, they aren't novices. Gariano, Chavis and Morando spent years studying various instruments at School of Rock. Night went to School of Rock, too, but only for a year. She played as part of the youthful duo Pretty Little Demons. After that ended, she wanted to work with a full band and reconnected with her old classmates.
Feel Your Feelings Fool! was recorded over a matter of weeks, with most of the songs written before they entered the studio. They worked fast — "Some of it we did in two takes," Morando says — and that speed is reflected in the urgency of the songs.
That method of recording gave the bandmates an opportunity to challenge themselves. "When you're playing live, it almost doesn't matter if you're messing up as you're getting into it. ... It gets sloppy and it feels good," Chavis says. "But recording, you have to get into the music and really put a lot of your emotions into it but also stay perfect and play perfectly, almost."
In that process, some magical moments happened. Chavis points to "Head in the Clouds" as one of her favorites. During the recording process, she recalls, Night and Gariano left to write a new part of the song and returned with a bit that summed up what Chavis was experiencing after a breakup. "It was so nice to have people there that empowered me and made me push through that stupid situation."
As Night, Gariano, Chavis and Morando close in on their first year as a band and prepare for the release of their first album, the connection between them appears strong. "The people that you're in a band with, that relationship is so different from anything else. I can't explain it," Night says, adding, "Playing shows is the most liberating thing that I can do and the thing that makes me most happy. Sharing that with people I love is really cool."
"The most special thing is being up there and looking over and smiling," Gariano adds, "and just knowing that it's good."
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