THE REGRETTES are Texas' premier all-girl rock and roll band. Unfortunately, the band split up right at the time, when we did this interview with guitarist Anna Guiliani, who's now playing in THE BAD APPLES. We decided to publish this interview after all and put it on our website exclusively. Have fun reading about this very interesting rock and roll band from Austin, TX in the USA.
When did THE REGRETTES get together and why?
"I wanted to play with other girls. I put up a poster at a record store and Lisa (Di Rocco) responded, which was kind of funny because I already knew her. Basically, I wanted to start a modern version of a fifties girl group...sort of like a punk SHANGRI-LAS. I knew Jennifer’s (Barker-Benfield) boyfriend, Joe, and he told us she had a thing for singing karaoke and may be interested in something more creative. After our initial bass player didn’t work out (a really cool girl, but she had no time), we found Krista Schreiber by placing an ad in the local paper."
Please introduce the band members to us and the instrument(s) they play.
Lisa Di Rocco-Drums
Can you tell us a bit more about the history of the band?
"I’m sorry it’s not more exciting than what I mentioned above! We tried out a few bass players before deciding on Krista. And I got some pretty crazy calls…mainly from boys asking if they could be in the band although the ad clearly said we wanted a female for an all girl band! They even offered to dress up like women."
Who came up with the band name and why?
"I knew I wanted a band name that was plural and recalled fifties girl groups. You won’t believe how many ideas for names we had! We must have had up to 100 written down at one time. Mike Mariconda (who was in a band called the Raunch Hands on Crypt Records) had said to me one day that THE REGRETTES would be a great name for an all-gal band and I concurred. I was pushing for that name from the very start, and we ended up with it because most of the other names were taken and I just kind of wore everyone down."
How would you describe your music?
"I think it’s a combination of fifties pop, punk, blues and garage."
Who are your musical influences?
"Lots and lots and lots of bands! I listen to everything from old country, blues, soul, r n’ b & rock n’ roll to punk and garage. Guitar-wise, I would say my main influences include Malcolm & Angus Young (my cat is named Angus!) from AC/DC, Billy Childish, Chuck Berry, Joan Jett & Lita Ford, & Link Wray. In terms of sound, everything I listen to has some kind of impact either directly or indirectly, from harmonica great Slim Harpo, The Runaways, The Devil Dogs, Flamin’ Groovies, Shangri-Las, Ronettes, Headcoats/Headcoatees/Delmonas, 5678s, Ruth Brown, Etta James, The Lyres, The Real Kids, Huey “Piano” Smith, & The Raincoats to Ike and Tina Turner, Wanda Jackson, Irma Thomas, The Monks, The Oblivians, Johnny Horton and on and on."
You released a single; “Four Lovely Lasses from Austin” on the Dutch garage label Tear It Up Records. How did you get in touch with them, and how many copies were sold of it?
"Paul Smits from Tear It Up got in touch with us initially, I believe. He saw our website and asked us to send him something. He ended up liking us and decided to put out a single, much to our surprise! He hooked us up with Gert Geluykens from Surfing Airlines, who booked a tour for us in December 2001. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were - people who cared about music found us and then were ridiculously nice and helpful. We owe so much to Gert and Paul because I doubt anyone in the US would have put it out. Based on my experiences touring overseas, I can honestly say that in general, Europeans care more about rock and roll and music in general. The level of excitement is more intense and they really appreciate that bands have to work hard to write and perform songs. I believe Paul pressed 300 or 400. I believe there are about thirty left. Hell, it makes me happy that at least one person besides me has our record! Since we’re broken up now, I guess this is a collectors item, right (ha, ha!)."
Can you tell us a bit more about the songs, that are on it.
"I’m Gonna Go": Jennifer wrote this about a gal that’s just had enough from her not-good-enough man. No political messages, just lyrics that are fun and easy on the ears. We’re not heartfelt singer songwriters and not especially political. It’s really difficult to pull off sincerity without looking pretentious. So we chose not to take anything seriously!
"Queen Bee": This is intended to be a response to Slim Harpo’s “King Bee” from a female perspective. The lyrics are pretty nasty! It’s in the tradition of those “Risque Blues” songs of the 30s and 40s. Jennifer penned the words and I wrote the music.
"The Howl": I wanted to write a song about a dance because every good garage band has one! And this is what I came up with. I thought the Bo Diddley beat would work well in this context.
"You Got What I Want": I wanted us to have a soul/garage song…sort of like when Small Faces were still good. I wrote the words and the lyrics on this one.
You also released those songs plus two others on a self-produced six song CD, called “Rock And Roll Party”. It’s out on Sweetheart records and is available on your website: www.regrettes.com. What can you tell us about the songs “Sue Ann” and “Do I Love You” (which is a RONETTES cover)?
"Swingin’ Sweetheart Records is my record label. Well, I wanted to cover a Ronettes song and Jennifer already knew that one, so that’s what we did! “Sue Ann” is the song I am most proud of. It is, as you mentioned in your review, in the tradition of a 50’s pop tune complete with a narrative/backstory introduction and breakdown (as in “Leader of the Pack”). I know this sounds sick, but because I’m a big fan of country music, I wanted to do a song that involved death and revenge. But I didn’t want to take it seriously. So, “Sue Ann” is about a girl who steals another girl’s boyfriend and so she gets him back by stabbing Sue Ann with her stiletto heel! It’s not poetry, but it’s a good time!"
How has the response been to this CD? And how are the reactions in general? Did you get many feedback from the press already?
"Almost everyone, who hears it, likes it. Or they lie to us and say they do! I’ve found that older folks (mid to late 20s and up) and then also much younger folks (15-17) like it the most. I can’t explain that phenomenon! To my knowledge, very few magazines have reviewed it, but I’m not too surprised by that."
Did you release anything else or do you have plans for an upcoming CD or new single?
"Nope. We played our last show on June 15th! It was very sad for Krista & I!"
Last year December (2001), you toured Holland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. How was that experience? Are you planning to come back again soon?
"I can honestly say it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life! Despite the extreme cold and some glitches, I would do it again…over and over! I was amazed by how well we were treated by the clubs and how friendly people were. They were nice and respectful and gave us lots of food and beer! Gert did a fabulous job with the booking. I have a complete day-by-day tour diary on our website with pictures. I am hoping to be back with my other band, THE BAD APPLES, in Spring 2003!
Are there enough clubs to play in your area (Texas)? And do you play ‘live’ a lot?
"Usually, we played 2-3 times per month. There are a lot of clubs, but only about three for rock and roll and punk. And there are so many bands here, it is difficult to book shows because the clubs get crowded very quickly – particularly Friday and Saturdays. When your band plays, you have to share the night with three or four other bands sometimes! The sets are very short & you don’t make any money. You really have to want to play music to do it because it is difficult every step of the way."
Can you tell us something about a REGRETTES show?
"Usually we wear matching outfits (we have several). At first, we tried to get Krista to dress up more, but it became too challenging and tiring, so we gave up! What you look like is part of the live experience – part of the entertainment – and I try and remember that. I’d say we act more goofy than anything else and just try and have a good time. I don’t really beat myself up about making mistakes – noone else does either."
What’s your most memorable gig and why?
"Perche No in Verbania, Italy. The people there were crazy! From the first note we played to the last, they never stopped dancing and chanting. What was truly amazing was that there were all kinds of people watching us – from hippies and goth kids, to punk kids…all packed into one place going totally insane. It was incredible."
What’s your most favorite (self written) song and why?
" "Sue Ann". I think it’s pretty clever. Most people think it’s a cover and that makes me feel good, I guess -- they think it’s too good for me to have written it myself! We had about fifteen more songs that were never recorded, unfortunately. There were a few of those I was rather proud of. But it would be silly to talk about them since no one will hear them!"
What’s the most positive thing about being in a band?
"I listened to music and worked at radio stations for a long time and then thought, “Why am I just consuming music? I should be making music myself!” And the reason I wanted to be in a girl band is that I was tired of seeing women on the sidelines, cheering for their boyfriends’ bands. It’s really exciting to have other people understand what you are trying to do. When folks dance to your songs and talk to you after a show, you feel like you have accomplished something and that you are connected to other people. I’ve met so many people, been able to travel and learned a lot about guitar from the experience. It makes me feel like rock and roll still is alive and well, because sometimes I wonder, you know?"
What’s the most negative thing about being in a band?
"You really have to be able to take a lot of criticism! Everyone has an opinion on what they think you are doing right and wrong (and most of them aren’t in bands!) and they will tell you. Sometimes people can be very cruel (especially to women, I’m afraid), but you must ignore it and remember that you play music because you love it, not because of what other people think and ignore them. It can tear you apart if you don’t learn to shut them off."
What’s your all time favorite band?
"That’s really impossible to say… I like so many bands!"
And your all time favorite song?
"That probably changes on a daily basis and matters what I am doing at the time I am listening. Some of my all time favorite songs include:
“Radio Beat” Devil Dogs; “Know Your Product” The Saints; “Back in Black”, “Dirty Deeds” & “Rocker” AC/DC; "Slow Death” Flamin’ Groovies; “Honky-Tonk Man” Johnny Horton; “What Is Love” Shangri-Las; “Who Will Save Rock and Roll?” The Dictators; “Queens of Noise” Runaways; “Madison Time” Ray Bryant Trio; “20th Century Boy” T Rex; “Outside Miner” Wire; “Hey Little Girl” Alex Chilton; “Respectable” Rolling Stones; “Holiday in the Sun” Sex Pistols; “Tell That Girl To Shut Up” Holly and the Italians; “Rainin’ in My Heart” Slim Harpo; “We’re Gonna Get Married” Bo Diddley; “I Gotta Know” Wanda Jackson; “Somebody Told You” Irma Thomas; “This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin” Ruth Brown; “Punk Rock Girl” Heavenly; “Under The Law” The Bats and so many more!"
What is the ulitmate goal, that you have for THE REGRETTES?
"Well, I was hoping we’d put out a real album on a real label. But now, I’ll have that as a goal for THE BAD APPLES."
What do you do for a living, besides playing in a band? Or are you girls still in school?!??
"We are all out of school. But I wish I were still there! I work in the computer industry, Krista is an engineer and does surveying, Jennifer owns her own business (a vintage clothing store) and Lisa works at an art store."
What are your hobbies, other than playing music?
"Music takes up most of my free time, but I also like gardening and working on my house. I collect vintage fifties furniture, so I’m always hunting for cheap stuff. I recently bought an old jukebox (Seeburg L100-1956) and have been looking for more records (not that I don’t already have enough!), Unfortunately, TTHE REGRETTES record has a small hole, so it won’t play!"
What are your plans for the future?
"To make THE BAD APPLES a huge international success. We will be on the cover of Metal Maidens!"
Do you have any message for our readers??
"You all rock!"
Interview by: Rita van Poorten/courtesy of Metal Maidens, 2002.
Discography THE REGRETTES:
*Four Lovely Lasses From Austin (4-song single) (Tear It Up; 2001)
*Rock And Roll Party (6 song CDsingle) (Sweetheart records; 2001)