“It doesn’t feel real,” The Regrettes guitarist Genessa Gariano admits to Billboard, while sitting among her band mates — singer Lydia Night, bassist Brooke Dickson and drummer Drew Thomsen. It’s the release date of their sophomore album, How Do You Love?, a concept album released last week through Warner Records which loosely follows Night’s experience through a relationship, from first-date jitters to the inevitable crash-and-burn of a break-up.
The L.A. power-rockers try to prove just that with songs like “I Dare You” and “Fog” on the new album. “You say my name I start to feel crazy / I can’t help but wonder how we got here/ I look at you, fog starts to clear,” Night sings on the latter track, her rich voice growling. That blunt enthusiasm is a trait that might scare some partners away, but it’s deployed sincerely here.
In an extended discussion, the group shared details of the album’s writing process, finding their confidence at a young age, and some great love advice.
Your new album is mostly about love. With so many great love songs out in the world, why did you decide to commit to that theme?
Lydia Night: Even though there are so many songs about love in the world, I think there’s a lot that’s unsaid about it. There’s a lot of gray area to explore when it comes to love, and I found myself writing about it a lot, so we thought we should fully lean into that and tell a story using it. I was writing a lot of songs about the situation I was in… There was a lot of specific, very weird moments, a lot of ups and downs and emotional turmoil. So being able to use what I was naturally writing and then pushing it one step further just worked out.
Is the whole album about one relationship or several different moments?
Night: Not all of the songs are written about one person, but they tell one relationship story. You would never know unless I told you. I could sit here and tell you it’s all about one relationship, but once we had already written a bulk of the songs, there were certain things — like, there weren’t enough happy songs, and I wanted it to be very even so that we could tell the story fully. So I wrote about someone else that I could actually write happy songs about and used that in place.
Drew Thomsen: It all came together to make it very real. It is really beautiful to think about — that transition.
How does it feel to go into your sophomore record after your debut propelled you so far?
Genessa Gariano: The word “sophomore” just sounds weird.
Night: I know, we’re old now! Honestly, none of us talked about the pressure too much — there’s a natural pressure that comes along with that — but no one on our team talked about it that much, which I’m so grateful for, because it allowed us to make the album we wanted to make. We all agreed to make something that was a progression and not the same as our last album, and Mike [Elizondo], our producer, helped a lot in that with the production and the instrumentation. We leveled up a bit. So that was discussed, but no part of the album felt too touched on or far from what we wanted to be doing.
Gariano: Instead of pressure, it was more excitement. We got so caught up in how exciting it was to write these new songs. We were in the moment.
Thomsen: The studio never felt like being in the studio. There was never a moment where I was like, “Oh man, this is the second album. This is a big deal.” It felt really good.
Can you take me through the process the album coming together?
Night: It’s been a few years in the works, technically. “California Friends” started over two years ago. A couple of songs started around the same time. When we played Coachella [in 2018], there was a big batch of songs we wrote between the two weekends in Joshua Tree. We went in the studio for two weeks and recorded five songs, and then had this gap of time — which now I’m so grateful for — to continue writing. I was in the midst of going through this insane relationship and I’m so happy that time was there to just experience what I was doing and then write about it. Then we had a period of time in Nashville for another two weeks which was so incredible — truly a magical getaway. We actually did “Go Love You” in the studio there, and then came back home, sat on it, and then thought there was room to add a little more. Then we made “Fog” and “Here You Go.”
Thomsen: And those two songs are so dynamic, for me it makes a lot of the album.
Gariano: It was cool to have those three little chunks, and I think the songs in each of those are a little different yet work together so well.
You all seem to really understand yourselves. How did you get to this personal place of self-awareness so quickly?
Night: I’m really grateful for the way I was raised, to be sure of myself. Which is something not a lot of people have. I’m really lucky to have parents who constantly reassured me that my opinions mattered. But at the same time, I struggled mostly in middle school and high school with the ups and downs of questioning that because, no matter how you were raised, those years and life in general can drag you. It can really make you rethink what you think you know about yourself.
Touring in this band has really helped me find my confidence again. When you write music, you learn about yourself. I listen back to a song and I constantly discover things and patterns I have as a human, and it’s fascinating and weird. And in turn, when you share it with the world, and someone else relates to it, it helps you learn about yourself too because you just see each other more. What we do is probably how we know ourselves so well.
Gariano: And traveling so much. That has forced us to be very sure of ourselves and each other because we’re put in a lot of crazy situations.
Brooke Dickson: It puts things into perspective and it tests relationships you have with people. You’re not going to sustain a relationship that’s really casual or not good for you when you’re touring. Your family and loved ones are your support system. That becomes really important to you when you’re touring.
You’re also really fashion-forward. Especially with this album, you seem to be making more of an effort with the overall aesthetic.
Thomsen: Yes. That was a cautious, intentional thing. Cohesive —
Night: We’re even matching today. This was not on purpose. Our socks! And yellow! We didn’t plan this.
How important is style to you?
Gariano: It’s huge.
Night: It’s one of the most fun parts about what we do, so playing with it and experimenting… I think something that was so exciting about having a new album was thinking, okay, how do we want to develop our band’s image and style so that it’s cohesive with the music we’re making, the story we’re telling, the merch we’re making… We already naturally dress like this, but color palettes are more important to us now. It’s just fun.
Gariano: Clothing is something that draws me to a specific person sometimes. Even just the way someone holds themselves comes from how they’re dressed sometimes. So I think it’s cool to have that be something we focus on. It’s the one thing we can control the most day-to-day.
Since your album is all about love, what do you think makes the perfect love song?
Night: Yeah, that’s exactly what I was going to say. It can be so many different things but if you’re honest about how you personally feel, you can’t go wrong with that. It’s instantly meaningful.
If there’s one piece of love advice a fan could walk away from after listening to your album, what would it be?
Night: Don’t let people treat you poorly. Love yourself enough to know that if someone doesn’t make you feel good a majority of the time, they really don’t deserve to be in your life.
What’s a love song you wish you wrote?
Dickson: “Time After Time.”
Night: “La Vie En Rose.”
Thomsen: Oh wow, yeah, done.