This article appears in FLOOD 12: The Los Angeles Issue. You can purchase this special 232-page print edition celebrating the people, places, music and art of LA here. The Regrettes’ new album, Further Joy, is out April 8.
The Regrettes are a young band from Los Angeles, and the city is still a place of discovery for all of them. “I am so in love with this city,” says singer-guitarist Lydia Night. “I still find so many new areas where I’m constantly like, ‘Oh my god, where am I right now? How have I never been here, tried this restaurant, or been to this park?’ That hasn’t gotten old for me yet.”
At the moment, the band’s four members are gathered at one of the city’s largest treasures: Griffith Park, a vast landscape of nature and unique attractions right in the middle of LA. Unlike New York’s tastefully landscaped Central Park, the 4,210-acre Griffith Park is still largely untamed, even with its world-famous Observatory and Greek Theater, its golf course, pony rides, and carousel.
Night is here with lead guitarist Genessa Gariano, bassist Brooke Dickson, and drummer Drew Thomsen, sitting at the ruins of the old Griffith Park Zoo (which was replaced across the park in 1966 by the Los Angeles Zoo). Some of the original animal pens have the look of prehistoric dwellings and have become a popular place for visitors to chill out, picnic, or leave graffiti. The “old zoo” is just one corner of the park’s vast playground, which Thomsen says was a crucial place to reconnect with other people during the worst of the pandemic.
“I would bike out here all the time, just to be in general proximity to other human beings,” says Thomsen. “It’s good for you. It's also really fun to run out here.”
Even for those who don’t hike the trails, Griffith Park is a timeless oasis in the middle of the city, and hasn’t changed significantly in generations. “The pony rides! Oh my god, that was my favorite,” says Night happily. “I hope it stays and I can take my kids here one day. I used to come here all the time as a kid with my dad and play on the playground and do the carousel. It's just a super-nostalgic place and feels super-warm and cozy.”
Growing up in Woodland Hills, Gariano knew Griffith Park mainly for the Observatory, and didn’t realize how vast the surrounding wildness of hills and trees was. “During COVID the past two years, I started hiking and my mind was kind of blown when I saw how many trees there were in LA,” says the guitarist, now a frequent visitor. “We have this huge park full of nature and it’s so beautiful.”
“It feels like we just went through puberty as a band and now we’re finding our flow and our confidence as the four of us coming together.”— Lydia Night
The pandemic meant that all plans for 2020 and 2021 were thrown into limbo, and The Regrettes suddenly had a lot more time to work on a new album. That time worked to their benefit, says Night, resulting in a sound that has evolved from the band’s original fired-up punk rock to something broader, as exemplified by their first-ever piano ballad and “Monday,” the album’s catchy first single. “It feels like we just went through puberty as a band and now we’re finding our flow and our confidence as the four of us coming together,” Night says of their just-announced new album, Further Joy.
Much like the adventurous spirit of the new album, the band seems to agree that the most perfect days are those where everything is canceled, leaving the day wide open to improvise. Night just recently had a day’s schedule wiped clean, so she and her boyfriend went to Century City on a whim. She had “a very bomb salad” there at the restaurant Eataly, then drank “a lot of coffee and got very jittery” at La Colombe Coffee Roasters.
Dickson grew up in Orange County and now lives in Long Beach, but spends quality leisure time in LA. She recently discovered another outdoor escape at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, up the 110 Freeway from Dodger Stadium. “It was like an oasis,” she says. “There’s a bunch of turtles swimming around in the lake. I love to go explore.”
A perfect day for Gariano began on a recent Friday, starting with therapy in the morning, then a lunch meeting with the band and their new manager, followed by a haircut at Dusted Beauty, a private salon owned by stylist Leticia Llesmin in Virgil Village. “I like bouncing around,” Gariano says happily, “while knowing that I could go home at any time.”
“During COVID the past two years, I started hiking and my mind was kind of blown when I saw how many trees there were in LA. We have this huge park full of nature and it’s so beautiful.”— Genessa Gariano
Gariano’s dining choices stretch across the city, from the variety of stylish diners (Swingers, Fred 62, etc.) and the Kogi Korean BBQ trucks around LA to a vegetarian restaurant in Canoga Park called Follow Your Heart. Another great eatery found during the pandemic is Yuko Kitchen, which serves Japanese comfort food in Downtown LA. It also happens to be across the street from The Last Bookstore, an inventive, two-level hub for new and used books (as well as comics, vinyl records, and collectibles).
For Gariano, the big book shop was just another facet of Downtown to discover as a young teen: “I grew up in the Valley, so Downtown was like this magical place that you didn’t get to go to all the time.”
From his place fairly close to Griffith Park, Thomsen rides Metro Rail to his studio downtown, stopping at his favorite food truck, El Tauro Tacos, with flames painted on the side. They’ve all grabbed meals at the Beachwood Café, up into the old Hollywoodland housing development from the 1920s. Sometimes they’ll take the granite and concrete steps heading ever higher into the canyon.
“It’s cool knowing that they built them in the 1920s for the actors that used to live [here],” Dickson says. “Humphrey Bogart and Bela Lugosi used to take those stairs to walk between all their houses.”
That kind of “concrete hiking” is a favorite pastime for Night all over the city, from Hollywood to the Venice Canals. “It’s so fun to walk around—literally just walking through neighborhoods and looking at the pretty houses. That’s like my favorite shit. I do it all the time.” FL