The Regrettes–Evolving, Changing, Storytelling

At only 18-years-old, The Regrettes’ front woman Lydia Night is a seasoned performer. In just the last decade she’s overcome stage fright, tackled open mics, mastered the guitar, honed in on her songwriting, played the likes of SXSW, Coachella, and Governors Ball, started selling out shows, and is slowly but surely becoming a household name. 

That’s only part of the story. The Regrettes also just toured Europe with Twenty One Pilots, had their song used in a national commercial, and have amassed millions of streams and views on Spotify and YouTube. AQ recently spoke with Lydia about all of this and more to get the inside scoop on everything from those early open mic days, to writing poetry for The Regrettes’ latest release, How Do You Love?.

While The Regrettes are often labeled as this punk rock band—which I do believe that it is at its core—there are so many other influences being pulled upon, whether on this new album or your debut. 

Oh, totally.

Do you feel like your music needs to be able to fit into a specific genre or do you maybe set out to be as creative and stylistically unique as possible?

I definitely would go with option two there. I think that we have a very punk rock attitude, and certain songs, I guess, can be classified as punk, but overall, I don’t think we’re a punk rock band—by any means. I think that we’re always trying to work alongside and with so many styles and ideas in mind, and we pull upon so many different genres, so I don’t like to classify our sound as anything other than our own.

Absolutely, you want to be authentic and I think that shines through on every release of yours thus far.

Thank you!

Now, while you’re all quite young—and I’m not really one to talk since you and I are the same age—the messages found in your music, on social media, and surrounding your band are quite mature and forward thinking. It maybe even challenges some listeners to think harder about their actions within their society, their relationships, and their life. Do you find being labeled or looked at as a “young, Generation Z” band a negative thing, because maybe some people don’t take this generation too seriously?

Yeah, I think it’s easy for people to roll their eyes and write off things that we say or post as ‘barely twenty-year-olds who don’t understand the way of the world,’ but as you get older, and as we are seeing, the world is just changing—evolving. People of all ages are trying to learn more and more everyday about what is ok to say and what is not, what to believe in, and how to really use their voice. There are so many things that are constantly evolving that I think different generations are not used to, but they’re dying out, anyway.

Absolutely. That’s the perfect summary of both the generational gaps between people and the circle of life. Speaking of posting things online, though, you guys are often using social media and videos and things like that to get your message out there. Do you think that that is a big part of this band—making sure to use social media to your advantage to connect with fans and showcase who you are?

For us, I think it really is. It does help bands feel way more connected and encouraged to use their voice on whatever platform they use. Also, just to make friends with each other. It’s really cool and lately can be used in really important ways.

Keeping on the topic of age and growth over time, I just saw an Instagram post of yours talking about how crazy it is to be selling out a venue that you once did open mics at. Thinking back to that time in your life, what did you take away from playing small shows in your actual childhood? Do you apply any of that to when you are touring now?

Oh, man. Yeah! I think learning how to get over stage fright is huge. I used to be so nervous before playing and it would really affect how I played. Just that confidence, you know? The more you do it, the more confidence you are going to gain, because it feels really good when you’re like a 10-year-old and you’re so nervous to perform, but to just do it and whether or not you did well, you actually went up on stage and did that. That alone, the action of going on stage in itself at that age, boosts your confidence. I think that really helped.

Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about the stellar album that is How Do You Love? It’s sort of in the line of a concept album with a central theme of moving past heartbreak in an upbeat, positive, looking-towards-the-future type of approach. Did you set out to create something along those lines or did it come up naturally during the writing process?

It came up naturally, but then once it was already happening and once we had already started recording the first batch of songs, we decided to lean into it more. Nothing was ever forced. We were aware of it a third or about halfway through when we were making the album, and then we were like, ‘Let’s make it a story for people to listen to and connect to.’ Everything I had written or was writing was along those lines, anyway, too, so there was no forcing that narrative to come about.

That’s so special and I think that can really be heard if listened to cover-to-cover. Now, I was wondering, do you have a song off this album that you really connect to and find very personal that fans can maybe look out for and be like ‘Wow, that’s really Lydia’s story to tell,’ when listening to it? 

Ooh, I think that recently I’ve felt that “Dead Wrong” is an extra interesting, vulnerable song, because I think it really goes through a personal spectrum of emotions of having someone make you feel sick, but at the same time, it’s sort of about an abusive relationship… not physically, but mentally. It’s something that is very personal to me and it’s just about manipulation, but also just having feelings for someone who is not doing you right.

That’s emotionally draining, I can imagine.

100 percent.

May I ask what made you want to start this album off with a monologue rather than jump right into the musical aspect?

Yeah, I wrote that poem while we were in the studio. I don’t really remember exactly how it came about, because it happened really fast. I wrote it really quickly. I think I was planning on maybe writing a song with it, but then just decided to keep it as a poem, but now that I think more about it, I might have just been like ‘Oh, this should start with a poem, I’m going to write a poem for the album intro.’ It could have been intentional, but it is hard to remember because it came to me so fast and got turned over very quickly. Overall, the intention of it was because I really wanted—and want—people to listen to this album in order and truly focus on the lyrics. The best thing that could happen is that people listen to the album more than once and really grab onto different aspects of it, but I just thought that setting it up in that way makes the story a little bit more obvious. I feel like it is just an intriguing way to start something— especially a record that tells a story.

Oh, that’s for sure! I don’t know many albums that go about setting up their track list or their lyrical progression the way that you did it, so I really commend you for that. It fits the whole story being told flawlessly.

Thank you. That’s so kind.

You’re welcome! Moving forward, you guys have had a wild ride as a band, from starting at a young age in a tough industry, to vocal rests, to lineup changes, and everything in between. Yet, with a fantastic sophomore album, your cover of “Don’t Stop Me Now” being used in a Silk commercial, touring alongside Twenty One Pilots, and so much more, you always seem to come out on top. What keeps you and your bandmates going throughout everything? Personally, musically, all of it….

When you love playing music, it’s always on your mind. When you’re on tour, it’s constantly problem solving. There is constantly something new going on that everyone is working together toward completing or solving. Of course, it’s exhausting sometimes, but there is no question of ‘Ugh! God, I shouldn’t do this anymore, because it’s just so much work!’ When you love doing it, you’re really doing what you love. That’s the coolest thing in the world that you get to do, so there is no complaint. We all struggle and go through different things when working on projects and being on tour and making music and whatever, but at the end of the day, we’re here for one reason and that is because we love playing music. People don’t start making music or join a band because they are looking to make a ton of money or be famous or whatever. People play music because they love to make music.

For sure, and I think that is very obvious with you guys. As we were talking about before, a lot of the music that you guys have released have been really quite personal, but you’re also on the road a lot, so how do you balance the actual musician lifestyle while keeping your own personal life lively in order to draw stories and influence from?

That’s such a great question! We do have a good amount of time at home, to live and to write. I don’t write that much on the road, but then randomly I’ll get ideas and run with them. “California Friends” was written, or at least started, on the road. There will be random things that do spark songs. The other thing is that we have phones now and have ways to communicate and be a part of things that are going on at home and in our lives that don’t have to do with being on tour. We are still living two lives while we are on tour, it feels like. I don’t know exactly, but there is never a lack of ideas.

Just being on the road itself can be used as inspiration, even if it’s not directly personal, just seeing the world and meeting new people.

Totally! There are so many feelings that you go through being on tour that you could write a whole album just on that.

Before I let you go, I have to tell you that Feel Your Feelings, Fool! was featured on my personal Top 10 Albums of 2017 list in our paper, and I have an inkling that How Do You Love? will be a part of it this year. So, I was wondering, do you view each record as different entities unto themselves? Or, in your eyes, is there is a clear progression from one to the other? 

I think they definitely take on individual lives. They’re so different musically and I view them as such different things, personally. How Do You Love? is definitely [a progression from] Feel Your Feelings, Fool!, because that album was written mostly before the band formed, and it was a great debut for us. It said what we needed to say, it was something that was different going out into the world. I think that How Do You Love? is coming at the perfect time for us, because people are now listening more than they were at that time. I think that were we to release this album [then], nobody would really have cared back then, and I think now, hopefully, people care more to really listen closely, take it for what it is, and appreciate it, as well as the story being told.