We want to be The Regrettes when we grow up. The collective age of this rock ‘n’ roll four-piece is barely 71, and yet they’re a prime example that wisdom and grace can come far before being old enough to drink legally. Here’s what we chatted about.
This delightful conversation with Lydia Night, Genessa Gariano, Sage Chavis and Maxx Morando of The Regrettes has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How is the tour going?
Genessa: Good! South by Southwest was a highlight. It was our second one. There were more shows, so it was chaotic, but that made it more fun.
Lydia: Each show was important. They were all fun — there were no iffy or weird shows.
When you guys are on the road, who’s the first to annoy everybody else?
Sage: It’s a mixture of all of us. We all get annoyed by different things.
Lydia: Loud chewing gets to me.
Genessa: I just need alone time! Even if it’s in the bathroom.
Lydia: We all know not to take it personally when people need a moment.
Maxx: I use headphones. I listen to music. It’s an escape.
Genessa: I get grumpy when I have to pee. I’m like, ‘Pull over NOW!’
What’s the weirdest or most unique venue you’ve played?
Lydia: We played in a college cafeteria! In the student union. It was cool.
Genessa: It was like a cafeteria-slash-bar.
Any backstage rituals?
Genessa: We have a little booty-bop that we do.
Sage: We kick each other.
Lydia: I listen to some Beyonce or pick a song that gets me going before every show. Right now it’s “Back Up” by DeJ Loaf. I have my Beats on and I have my juice box.
You guys are so young. It’s really cool that you found your passion so early. Is this what you’ve always wanted to do? How old were you when you got started?
Lydia: For me, it started when I was 5. I went to a concert with my dad and knew that’s what I wanted to be doing, and now I’m doing it! I got my first guitar for my 6th birthday and started taking lessons the next day. It didn’t stop — I still take guitar lessons.
Genessa: I wanted to be a doctor or something!
Lydia: She came to her senses.
Genessa: Once I started playing shows, I was like, ‘I never want to stop doing this!’ Until then, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I did it.
You have a 50s sound, but you turn the traditional “lamenting woman in love” thing on its head, which is very cool. Does it come naturally to write specifically empowering lyrics like that?
Lydia: It does, just because all of our lyrics are things that I strongly believe. I don’t think any of us ever write thinking, ‘This is the message I want to come across,’ it just happens because it’s things we believe in and they translate.
Your writing is also very conversational, the way Kate Nash is.
Lydia: I love Kate.
Genessa: We just did some shows with her!
Lydia: She’s my favorite person to see live. I’ve seen her probably ten times and I get so emotional. I talk to her a lot now, especially after South By. She’s like an older sister. The best person ever.
Do you ask her for advice?
Lydia: Oh, yeah. She’s like a therapist.
Have other artists imparted their wisdom on you?
Sage: Alexis Krauss from Sleigh Bells, when we went on a little tour with her, she’d come into our dressing room before the show and give us tips. It was amazing.
Genessa: She made a point to come and talk to us. It was really awesome. We’re lucky.
Lydia: It’s really sweet.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Sage: I think I’d be a homebody. This is my purpose in life.
Lydia: I think I’d either be dead or be a chef. Sage and I baked the other night and killed it.
Genessa: We should start a YouTube cooking show. Maxx and I will eat and rate the things.
Let’s talk collaborations. Who would you jump to work with?
Maxx [immediately]: Foals.
Lydia: I would love to write with Kate.
Maxx: The Frights, too.
Genessa: Neil Young, for me.
Lydia: That’s such a hard question!
Genessa: Everyone I listen to, I’d love to collaborate with.
Sage: Stevie Nicks.
Who’s the parent in the band?
Genessa [quickly]: Sage is. I’m the aunt.
Lydia: Sage is the mom. One time I did this Escape the Room thing with Sage, a scary one, and she was like, ‘It’s okay, baby.’ She kept her cool.
Genessa: Lydia and Maxx are the children.
Lydia: No, Maxx is the grandfather. I’m definitely the baby, though.
Genessa: She sleeps a lot.
Lydia: I do. I get really tired.
Sage: She could fall asleep and take a nap right here.
Genessa: It’s an impressive, baffling talent.
What are you listening to right now?
Sage: I always have a Prince playlist ready.
Lydia: For me, a lot of Leon Bridges and rap music. Old Nicki Minaj. I’ll listen to Frank Sinatra for an hour and then Kendrick Lamar, then Bikini Kills.
I feel that. Today I went from the Beauty and the Beast score to K. Flay.
Sage: K. Flay! She’s awesome.
Lydia: Oh, and the Hairspray soundtrack.
Genessa: When she’s in a sad mood, I text her to listen to the Hairspray soundtrack.
Lydia: In the shower, I act it out…nevermind, I’m not gonna get into it.
Maxx: Hiatus Kaiyote. And the first Boston album. It’s full of Boston bangers.
[All laugh at “Boston bangers”]
Genessa: Vulfpeck and Al Green. I also made a playlist that we all love called — can I curse?
Genessa: It’s called “Stuck In This F*cking Van.”
Hilarious. If someone hasn’t heard you before, what song should they listen to first?
Lydia: “Seashore” so we can tell them to f*ck off.
Genessa: I tell them to listen to “Living Human Girl” because that’s a very im-por-tant song.
Lydia [snorting]: Im-por-tant.
That was very nicely enunciated.
Sage: She always says “important” like that. I always notice that.
Genessa: I don’t know why! I think my mom does it.
Maxx [shouting]: Because it’s IMPORTANT!
Maxx: We’re splitting up. This is the end.
Genessa: Ha. We’re going back to L.A.
Lydia: I’m taking a little rest for my voice, but then we’re back on, baby!
Catch The Regrettes on tour here, and click through the gallery to see our photo shoot with the band.