Music Made For Teenagers By Teenagers: An interview with Lydia Knight of the break-out punk band ‘The Regrettes’

In the age where young Soundcloud rappers with GarageBand beats and repetitive lyrics are running rampant, The Regrettes are a band that brings a breath of fresh air to music made for teenagers by teenagers. The LA-based punk band is lead by 17-year-old Lydia Knight as lead vocalist, with Genessa Gariano on guitar and Sage Chavis on bass. Drew Thomsen recently replaced Maxx Morando on drums.

The Regrettes have had a whirlwind year so far, debuting the music video for their single “Come Through” on Refinery29, performing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and playing some of the biggest festivals in the country, including Coachella in California in April with upcoming performances at Bonnaroo in Tennessee, Firefly in Delaware and Lollapalooza in Chicago. Their most forthcoming appearance will be at the Governors Ball music festival in New York City where the band plays on Saturday, June 2.

Perhaps what is so refreshing about The Regrettes is their honest and unfiltered commentary on the ups and downs of teenage life, along with their catchy bass lines and great aesthetic. In the following interview, frontwoman Knight talks about her own teenage life, her inspirations and where she sees the future of the band going.  

Daily Campus: Talk to me about how The Regrettes formed.

Lydia Knight: Sage, Genessa and I went to music school together. We kind of lost touch and then reconnected later on. We were in separate bands and then our bands played a show together. We ended up deciding to form into one [band] once mine split up.

DC: What has the process of gaining popularity been like? Was there one big breakout moment or has it felt more natural?

LK: It’s been pretty natural. It’s honestly felt like it’s been really gradual. There have been things that we’re, like, obviously, ‘Holy s***,’ and it kind of all hits you at once because it is usually so gradual; you don’t really notice it until those moments. I think Kimmel was a big [moment] like that.

DC: You’re only 17. How do you find balancing being in a successful band with normal teenage stuff?

LK: Yeah, it’s weird. It’s definitely a lot easier now that I’ve stopped going to school. I think when I was in school it was a lot, but now it’s not that much easier because I have a million other things to stress about. Overall, it hasn’t been that hard, [but] it is weird not going to school with your friends. It makes it hard to keep up those relationships. It just takes a lot more effort but it’s all worth it and I have a really great support system, I’m very lucky.

DC: Going off of that, do you find being a young musician to have its advantages and/or disadvantages?

LK: I don’t really know because I don’t know anything different. I think sometimes it’s a disadvantage for things like just dealing with a lot of people kind of doubting us. But at the same time, that can be looked at as a way that pushes us to be better and be the best we can be.

DC: Your music is a great mix of genres: there’s punk, surf rock and even a bit of 60s/70s era sound mixed in. What was the process behind finding your sound?

LK: I don’t really think there was a discussion or a set thought of, ‘This is what I want our sound to be.’ There was never that. It kind of naturally happened. You know, I go to a lot of shows and I’m a huge music fan; I love listening to other bands and seeing other bands. When you do that long enough, all of that just naturally comes out in your writing. I think that’s kind of what happened.

DC: The strong 70s vibe in your newest music video, “Come Through,” shows that style is something that’s important to the band. Who would you say are your biggest artistic influences, both musically and style-wise?

LK: Style-wise, let’s see...I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I get a lot of stuff from movies and television, especially old classic movies. Like ‘Clueless’ has an amazing wardrobe, and like ‘Sixteen Candles’ even, a lot of those old movies. Also a mix of classic women in music, like Debbie Harry and Courtney Love.

DC: There have been a few changes in your lineup. Most recently, your drummer Maxx Morando left the band. Does the switching of band members change the band dynamic and sound?

LK: It does, but it’s been better because, you know, change is always scary at first, but it needs to happen when it happens. If it didn’t need to happen, and there wasn’t a reason for it, then it wouldn’t have happened. So everyone that’s involved [in the change] wants to be involved, and that’s what matters. And you feel that.

DC: Now onto your upcoming performance at the Governors Ball music festival. How did you find out about being booked for the festival?

LK: I found out from our booking agent I think, and obviously that was just super exciting. I was even more excited when I saw the lineup. You never know who you’re going to be playing with and then when you see it you’re like, ‘Oh, s***.’ It makes it even cooler. Yeah Yeah Yeahs I think is the band I’m most excited for.

DC: This will be your second big festival after Coachella. How does playing these huge festivals differ from playing at smaller, more underground locations? Do you prefer one better to the other?

LK: It’s different in, like, literally every way possible. The crowds are different; a lot of times [at festivals] there’s a lot of people who don’t know who you are, so you have to work harder to engage everyone and make fans, pretty much. I don’t really have a preference, I think that they all have their perks. They’re kind of hard to compare.

DC: Looking back on your time in The Regrettes thus far, what moment are you most proud of?

LK: I think I feel the proudest when people come to us after a show and say, ‘Your song helped me get through this and this.’ That is crazy; that is like the coolest thing in the world. That’s the most rewarding thing. It makes all the stressful situations so worth it.

DC: Where do you see the future of the band heading?

LK: I don’t know. I just want to take it as far as we can take it, whatever that means. As big as we can be, that’s what I want to be.

Make sure to catch The Regrettes at the Governors Ball on Saturday, June 2 at the Honda Stage at 12:15 pm. Tickets can be found on the festival’s website: www.governorsballmusicfestival.com


Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at lucie.turkel@uconn.edu.