People make assumptions about the young and talented Lydia Night, frontwoman for the Los Angeles-based punk band The Regrettes.
But it was people drawing their own conclusions that inspired the singer-songwriter to jump into the rock genre to begin with. As she tells it, Night was dabbling in folk music when she heard that a friend of hers was looking for a singer for her own band. After days of watching this girl ask everyone but her to join the group, Night finally caved and offered to sing. The response Night got is why she and this classmate are no longer friends.
“She said, ‘You can’t sing rock music. You don’t do that,’” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Okay, fuck you! I’m starting a rock band.’”
Night went on to form Pretty Little Demons, who made headlines several years ago for a number of reasons. Those included making honest pop punk music, performing onstage with Ryan Gosling’s indie rock band Dead Man’s Bones, and being the youngest band invited to play South by Southwest. Night was 12 years old at the time, and she knew this was just the beginning of her success. But not everyone approved.
“When people are successful in any type of way, there is aways a backlash, especially at my age,” Night says. “It’s not meant to be hurtful, I think. People are just messing around and poking fun. … It doesn’t get to me, but it used to bother me. I was a lot less secure back then.”
Four years later, history is repeating for better and worse with The Regrettes, featuring Night alongside guitarist Genessa Gariano, bassist Sage Chavis, and drummer Maxx Morando. The quartet met at the School of Rock in Burbank, California. Night had a head start in becoming a disciplined songwriter. Her father was the owner of The Shim Sham Club in New Orleans, which featured artists like The White Stripes, X, and The Donnas, who inspired her at the age of 5 to play music.
“When I was 2 years old, I would go with [my dad] and check the mics and sing different Ramones songs because they were my favorite band at that age,” Night recalls. “There are videos of me singing ‘Beat on the Brat.’”
Her parents surrounded her with music that many people presume she would not know, considering Night is not yet old enough to get into an R-rated movie by herself. Despite her natural ability to write candid songs, many are quick to judge Night based on her age and gender. The lyrics of the song “Seashore,” from The Regrette’s debut full-length album Feel Your Feelings Fool, confront this topic head on in a way anyone can relate to:
“You’re talkin’ to me like I’m dumb / Well I’ve got news, I’ve got a lot to say / There’s nothing you can do to take that away.”
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It is both exciting that Night writes so sincerely and also depressing. She reminds us that some people go through life acting as if high school never ended. She knows that accomplishing so much at such a young age is a double-edged sword, but it’s still annoying when people use that as a reason to talk down to her.
“I am a lot more than that,” she says. “When people hear our music, I hope that the fact I’m 16 doesn’t come to mind. At the same time, I’m not trying to hide it. I’m not trying to be older than I am. It’s just not interesting.”
The Regrettes are scheduled to perform on Sunday, June 11, at Pub Rock in Scottsdale. Tickets are $10 to $12 through pubrocklive.com.