The Regrettes Aren't A Punk Band—They're Just Honest

The Regrettes have never referred to themselves as a punk band, nor have they ever described themselves as "young" for the sake of promotion. They don't tend to think of themselves as either, though clearly many in the music world do.

What The Regrettes undoubtedly are, though? Thoroughly accomplished for any band, with punchy music and lyrics dealing with mental health and queer love.

They have three albums under their belts, including Further Joy, which dropped earlier this month. They've performed at South by Southwest, opened for Kate Nash, collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda, and opened for Twenty One Pilots. And they played two rollicking sets at Coachella this year—frontwoman Lydia Night lost her voice between weekends.

Between weekends, but after Night's voice had returned, the band hopped on a call with Newsweek.

We're talking on Thursday, April 21. We are between Coachella weekends, so y'all had a set this past weekend. How was it?

Lydia Night: It was good. It was a lot. I think we did really well. And I'm very excited to be playing tomorrow—it's so cool having a festival where you get a second shot. But it felt really fun playing a lot of the new songs for the first time. And we had a bigger crowd than I thought we would.

Brooke Dickson: It was little nerve wracking playing [new tracks] for the first time but it was as good a time as any to start doing it. So it was fun.

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The Regrettes (Brooke Dickson, Drew Thomsen, Lydia Night and Genessa Gariano) pose during Coachella 2022. Rich Fury/Getty

Y'all have said in previous interviews that like the pandemic sort of shifted how you were approaching subsequent albums. Is there "lost material" that exists somewhere?

Lydia Night: A lot. There's like, I think like 70 songs? There are so many versions of Further Joy that will never see the light of day, and then some songs will on future albums. I think some songs will see the light hopefully sooner than that. It feels really good to be in a place where we have a platform, a jumping point.

Further Joy has a very evolved sound from previous Regrettes work. Was there a deliberate choice to make it a little synthier, a little dreamier?

Lydia Night: It was more just [deciding] that we're gonna make this process freer. Jacknife [Lee], who's the producer that we worked with first—he's incredible. He has a sign in his studio that says "play." He set the tone for the way that we wanted to go about the recording process where it felt more like, "Show up if you're feeling good, if you're feeling ready to make music."

We were just there when we wanted to be there, and we were there to play whatever instrument we wanted to play, to work on whatever song we were feeling like working on. It was just so loose.

And somehow we made such a not-loose sounding album, if that makes sense. It's so funny because we were just in there like, playing the f**king jingle bells.

Drew Thomsen: Yeah, especially at Jacknife's. There's s**t on there, it was like, I had a box of like a thousand assorted random metal things. I was spraying orange air freshener onto microphone, like on it—

Lydia Night: To sample it—

Genessa Gariano: There are so many sounds where I'm like... I don't remember what exactly that was.

Drew Thomsen: We were going through the stems later, like, "What is that?"

Genessa Gariano: And with the other producer, Tim Pagnotta, I would have an acoustic guitar and I would be playing something, and he [recorded it as a] voice memo and then warp it and flip it back.

Lydia Night: The vocals, too. Voice memo vocals blended with different microphones. They both really had that playground mentality.

Genessa Gariano: Which is I think the beauty of having incredible producers.

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Lydia Night of the Regrettes sings during the second weekend of Coachella 2022. Timothy Norris/Getty

You sort of defy genres in a lot of ways. "Punk" is the one I always see, and punk people have a very different definition of punk depending on who you ask. What genre do you associate yourselves with? Is it punk? Is it something else?

Lydia Night: I think we're fully an alt-pop band. Never have we once, mind you, called ourselves a punk band. But I think we're punk as f**k in terms of who we are as people. We were just talking about how I think that this album was our most punk album in terms of what punk means to me, which is feeling like you can do whatever you want because you want to and not listening to what anyone else thinks. And that feels punk to me. So this pop album we made feels punk.

When I first heard The Regrettes, I earnestly thought like we were talking early '90s stuff. And I was shocked to learn that most of you are younger than me. But I think there's an interesting conversation to be had there because not only have you never described yourselves as punk, you've also never described yourself as a band of young people, right? But being young is a lot of the time used in lieu of having skills or a personality, right? Like, you are just the young one in the room, and that's it.

Lydia Night: "You're really good for being young."

Genessa Gariano: It erases everything. Like, when we were all adults and Lyd was the only teenager, we were a "teen band"—

Lydia Night: So dumb.

Genessa Gariano: —and everything that she is, everything that we are, was erased.

Lydia Night: It became this isolation that journalists would put on us. There's no difference, we're people in a band. And it is so hard to get out of. I've been 18 for three years.

Okay, one more question: what was the last song you had stuck in your head?

Drew Thomsen: Uh, "Smack That."

Right out the gate, no hesitation.

Drew Thomsen: I couldn't fall asleep last night because I couldn't f**king get it out of my head. It's really embarrassing.

Lydia Night: Mine is definitely "Tamagotchi" by Omar Apollo.

Brooke Dickson: Dude, I was gonna say Omar Apollo. A couple of his songs and Wallows songs, too.

Genessa Gariano: Mine is Wallows, I don't even remember which.

Newsweek's continuing Coachella coverage can be found online at newsweek.com and on On Beat, available wherever you get your podcasts.