An Interview With…The Regrettes

I meet The Regrettes at what feels like 100 miles underground. Islington’s O2 Academy’s backstage is buried deep beneath the room where the band will play to 1000 people shortly after, and is something of a labyrinth. Their dressing room is cosy, and I sit on the floor with frontwoman Lydia Night as we chat and everyone gets covered in glitter.

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Photo: Alan McCarthy

So, who are The Regrettes? “We are super honest people who make super honest music about things that we care about and things that we go through”. The LA-based four-piece is made up of Lydia (vocals/guitar), Sage Chavis (backing vocals/bass), Genessa Gariano (backing vocals/lead guitar), and Maxx Morando (drums). The music is youthful, energetic, and fun – whilst also tackling misogyny, broken friendships, and more.

Talking about the European tour with SWMRS, it’s evident the band have all had a great time. “It’s been the best fucking time of my entire life”, Lydia tells me, as Genessa beams and gushes “we are so lucky!” They insist it’s been their favourite tour they’ve ever been on, both from the perspective of fans and as a band. “This is the first time I’ve really been able to let loose in the crowd since we became a band”, says Sage. “It’s been so fun to be with all these people who really care about the music that’s being played”. Lydia laughs, adding “we’ve been going fucking ape-shit!” They also appreciate the support fans have given their own band. “At every show, there have been people who know our lyrics. That’s so special.” Maxx points out that “people are singing along to the guitar” and instrumental parts, too. I admit that is my favourite part of every show, which excites Genessa who feels the same way.

When I question them about their feelings on being labelled as a ‘girl band’, their response is mixed. “We’re not an all-girl band”, Lydia points out – at which point Maxx waves, smirking – “but being called girl-fronted is fine because that’s what we are”. Sage disagrees. “Even that term bums me out”. She explains that it feels like they’re being put into a box, and it prompts ignorant questions about being a girl in music. Lydia reassures me that they “want to talk about [being women, and feminism] but in a particular way – like this!” The band understand that being girls in a band IS, at this moment in time, ‘special’. “We want it to get to a point where it doesn’t matter!”

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(l-r: Maxx, Genessa, Lydia, Sage) Photo: Chad Kamenshine

They are, however, willing to talk about the issues that are faced by women who make music. “We play festivals and we’ll be the last girls in a band playing – it won’t even be dark yet, and there will still be tons of bands after us playing!” Genessa gets particularly frustrated reflecting on her time at music school – which is where the band met. “[Throughout] my musical education there was a lot of dudes getting better treatment than I was getting. They told me I could ‘sing background vocals and finger pick’, they wouldn’t let me play main lines. I would really have to fight for it and then when I WOULD get a lead line, some dude would get a guitar and solo all over the top of my riffs! It was very…” – she takes a deep breath at this point – “annoying”. That’s a polite alternative to what I’m thinking.

In regards to safety at shows, the band are adamant that there should be no violence or harassment. “We are very aware when we’re playing”, Lydia begins. “We try to make sure that everyone is good. If we were to see [abuse] going on, we would make sure that person is kicked ou”. Maxx adds that it can be difficult for them to see everything that happens in the crowd, and that people who notice it need to say something. “They can yell to us for help”. Genessa pleas that people “come to [them] after the show and let [them] know” if something happens to, and they feel able to speak about it. “We will publicly write about [incidents which occur] if that can help”. When I ask them how they feel about security’s role, Sage ponders how easy it is for them to watch out for sexual harassment. “These things often happen in closed
spaces…” Lydia jumps in. “But if someone comes up to them and tells them that something has happened, they need to listen. They need to take that seriously”.

And their message to the perpetrators? It’s simple. “Stop”. Lydia adds that “they need to not put themselves in a public situation [such as a show] if they can’t be respectful and not a fucking asshole”.

The Regrettes are on tour with SWMRS in the US for the rest of 2017.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall