The Regrettes bring fun power punk to Pittsburgh
Lydia Night was just a toddler when it became obvious that she was destined to be a rock singer.
At the age of 2, she was singing the Ramones song “Beat on the Brat” for the soundcheck at her father’s nightclub in New Orleans, where she was born.
By 6, after her family had moved to Santa Monica, Calif., she got her first guitar and started playing the next day.
Just a dozen years later, Night is the driving force behind the L.A.-based power pop punk band The Regrettes. The band plays the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls Wednesday night in Millvale.
At the age of 18, Night is the outspoken, blunt and confident lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the four-person group with the unusual lineup of three girl guitarists and one boy drummer.
If you think that sounds conducive to something soft, guess again. The Regrettes bring an explosive sound to accompany Night’s searing lyrics. Her words are born of a young woman’s anger and frustration with what she sees as institutional misogyny enabled by a president who says degrading things about women.
“I feel that there is constantly something new that (President Donald) Trump says that is extremely offensive and extremely degrading,” says Night in a phone conversation from a tour stop in Cincinnati. “I think it’s absolutely disgusting how many people can sit there and turn their heads to it because they think it’s worth having a misogynist pig as a president.”
Night has never been afraid to express her anger and says that when it comes to her songwriting, it simplifies the process. In her anti-Trump anthem “Seashore,” she doesn’t mince words.
You’re talkin’ to me like I’m dumb,
Well I’ve got news, I got a lot to say,
There’s nothin’ you can do to take that away.
You’re talkin’ to me like I’m hurt,
At least I’m not 6 feet in the dirt,
And I’ll still kick your ass, even in my skirt,
You’re talking to me like I’m a child,
Well, I’m not a helpless baby,
Not waitin’ on you to come save me,
I’m like nobody else, so you can just go f— yourself
Another political protest song by Night is the Brett Kavanaugh-inspired “Poor Boy.” She says that for her, these types of songs are easy to write.
“Writing something from an angry place is one of the easiest things to do as a writer for me,” says Night. “It’s easy to hone in on anger when I’m writing a song. I’ve been using that for so long. It’s my tool to deal with it.”
Someone might ask what a multi-talented 18-year-old has to be angry about. But for Night, whose pleasant conversational voice makes her sound like an old soul, it’s more about taking in the world around her and speaking out as an individual.
“I feel, more than anything, it’s important for empowerment to be shown in songwriting,” says Night. “It’s really easy when there is so much scary s— happening in the world to feel small, to feel that one vote is not important, or one donation can feel like it’s not going to do much. But for me, being a confident, powerful woman, it’s important that I show that in my music.”
And it’s not like Night and the Regrettes are not having any fun. The band has that classic Beatlesque four-person lineup, three guitars and drums. What’s unique is that three women are playing the guitars, Genessa Gariano on lead, Brooke Dickson on bass, and Night playing rhythm. The only male in the group is drummer Drew Thomsen.
The four players produce punchy, tight, catchy songs that are emotionally compelling, a mix of those that are politically inspired as well as relatable teen-angst tunes.
The Regrettes’ new release, “How Do You Love,” is a concept album about the process of falling in and out of love, something Night seems to know a lot about.
“It’s a brutal and magical process, and just, kind of torture, honestly,” says Night. “I thought it would be cool to go into depth on the gray area of that classic love story, to go into the nervousness and the second-guessing that happens and all the little feelings that feel so hard to describe. I really wanted to describe them in song.”
Night, whose strong, smooth voice reflects the musical theater lessons she took as a youngster, was recently featured in a backing role on Morrissey’s cover of “Wedding Bell Blues.”
She says she takes much of her inspiration from the girl groups of the 1960s.
“I love girl groups like the Crystals and the Ronettes. And then a formative time for me was when I got into Hole. ‘Live Through This’ was a big, big inspiration for me.”
Courtney Love should be proud.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].