For LA pop punk bad The Regrettes, activism isn’t a trend, it’s built into their hardware.
With a debut album, follow up EP and an enviable touring record including support sets for Sleigh Bells and Kate Nash as well as already hitting Coachella and a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! already on the resumes, it’s hard to remember that the group aren’t machines. In fact, vocalist Lydia is just 17 years old; and already on the brink of international stardom. This is a band for tmrw, because they are the youth of today.
First meeting one another at music school around five years ago, Lydia describes the conception of the bands’ name with strong family connections and the embodiment of yin yang. “I came up with the name sitting in the car with my dad, trying to come up with a name that would capture my light and dark side.…” she notes. “The word regret is pretty dark but spelling it like Regrettes makes it softer.” Although the name might whisper lullaby instead of shouting punchy rock, their music is guaranteed to keep you anything but sleepy. Custom-made for dive bars and festival sets alike, The Regrettes’ lyrical honesty and vulnerability is juxtaposed with ‘fight the power’ instrumentals; hard hitting lines that could slot easily into heartbreak ballads are backed up with punky guitar and drum work.
Fight Your Feelings Fool! Nah, I’m not telling you to stop looking at your phone for that text you’re anticipating, although that’s not a bad idea. FYFL! is the angsty, independent title of The Regrettes’ debut album released in January 2017. Signed to Warner Bros., the LP is instantly timeless due its simultaneous infusion of pop, punk and a rocky 60’s vibe, with the ability to transport you through time while keeping you grounded by tackling topics of modern society. The album generated tracks fit for radio that incur nostalgia, looking at teenage debates and issues through sepia glasses; ‘Hey Now’ screams for attention and hides in nerves, while Seashore is less chill than the name suggests, telling it how it is with lyrics such as ‘I’m like nobody else, so you can just go fuck yourself’. Punchy, eh? Get ready world, because these kids aren’t kids anymore, and they’ve had enough.
The band’s latest single ‘Come Through’ captures what they have to offer; catchy, with an unapologetic chorus and an attitude that demands blood and revenge. Accompanying video features an ‘at her limit’ Lydia sick to death of everything she’s been putting up with in a lover; feeling second best, or in her words, ‘putting up with your bullshit’. It’s startlingly relatable, which is a beauty of the band’s age; they shed theatrical metaphors for the blunt truth… and it works. With a wink of the eye and a coo Lydia, with the help of the rest of the band, bakes away her anger in a music video that actually has a convincing narrative, which is becoming rarer and rarer in the age of posing for the ‘gram. Not only do they allow their visuals to tell the story, but it’s a fun watch, too.
Speaking of the Attention Seeker EP, released just over a year after debut Fight Your Feelings Fool! Lydia continues “I think that the EP really shows how much confidence and self-understanding we’ve gained since creating FYFF!. I really hope the EP continues to help people feel their feelings, in addition to taking action on them and be bold in their life.”
The EP also features an ambitious cover of classic crooner ‘A Teenager In Love’, pumping up the angst as they ask over and over why they can’t overcome the emotions they’re facing. Acoustic versions of signature songs Hey Now and A Living Human Girl are bundled on, giving fans a subtler side that shows they can be just as ballsy and brassy without the amp turned up, while new track Red Light is a fast-tempo two minutes and fifty nine seconds that doesn’t allow time to breathe. It’s infatuation and kicking yourself for feeling it in the same breath, inner demons truly at play.
At the minute the band are travelling on tour, and have recently done a U.K. leg involving shows in London, Manchester and Liverpool before going back to the states for a leg there. And with over 100 thousands monthly listeners on Spotify already, that might not be the end, for Lydia goes on to describe the surreal online reaction to their music that has reached places she’d never have expected. “It’s really been amazing. It’s really unbelievable getting messages from people in places like Thailand and Italy, all of these places that we’ve never been but i can’t wait to go to!”. Would they get bored of life on the road, especially so young? “I love touring! I get bored pretty fast and love traveling so touring is kinda the perfect situation for me right now”.
And their energy doesn’t seem to be able to decrease, even when tragedy hits; drummer Maxx was recently announced in early May to have walked from the band, leaving the girls as a three-piece. If there’s anything The Regrettes can do though, it’s have no regrets. “For now it’s the three of us but we might be announcing a change very shortly. Change is always really scary at first but it’s almost always the thing that needs to happen. The world works in strange ways and we are all just so ready and excited to move forward.”
What else haven’t they foreseen? “How beautiful so much of America is. I didn’t expect so many places to be filled with so many cool people and stunning places. There are so many underrated cities I’ve gotten to enjoy There definitely have been super surreal moments. Playing on the Conan O’Brien TV show was so surreal because playing something like that has always been a dream of mine”. What do they want to say? “I just want to help people feel strong and realise how powerful they really are and can be”.
Fuelling a fire that comes with every wave of youth, The Regrettes could easily become the sound of a revolution; because they already are. Heavily involved in social and political issues, the band don’t just let their lyrics speak for them. On the 24th March they participated in the March For Our Live campaign, uploading photos amongst the crowds to instagram with captors such as ‘THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE’. They supported the Parkland students who survived a high school shooting earlier this year, posting the cover of TIME magazine with the caption ‘ENOUGH’ mimicking the title. Pioneering new gun laws isn’t something that will happen with the post of a photo, but the band knows that within numbers, there is strength. It’s not just themselves they’re looking out for, but everyone who is just like them; young, inspired, angry, and in need of change.
For now, The Regrettes are simply speaking their mind, and having a rockin’ time doing it. And shouldn’t that be what we should all aim for? Festival sets, crowd surfing and calling people out on their bullshit have become routine components of who they are, and they’re not about to hit pause just yet. An album is expected to follow later this year along with a possible new band member, and I’m sure they have more tricks up their sleeve. For now, you can catch them playing sets in the U.K. and the U.S. this summer, so make to grab a ticket… things are only gonna get more heated.
Words by James Hawkridge