The wild ride of The Regrettes
By Chris GaittenPublished November 1, 2012
A band of six friends huddled together backstage at the LC Pavilion anticipating their biggest show – opening CD101 Day for national acts like Walk the Moon and The Naked and Famous.
“I just remember that moment being so mind-blowing and then hearing the emcee say, ‘The Regrettes!’” recalls Mehgan Hutchinson, co-lead singer of Columbus’ Harlem-hot revival act.
The Regrettes strode onstage and regaled a sold-out crowd with their tambourine-shaking anthems. They had officially arrived on the Columbus scene, and it took them all of five shows to seduce the city with their sexy, energetic, rhythm-and-soul onslaught.
“That was the coolest day of my life. I want to do that every day, forever,” says Lizzy Morris, Hutchinson’s counterpart.
Already knowing the broad strokes of their story, I lured The Regrettes to my house with promises of tacos and beer to talk about the fastest, craziest 10 months of their lives. It was a short trip for Hutchinson and guitarist Dennis Tanner, who live just down the hall of our Weinland Park home. And to be fair, the tacos were Tanner’s idea, but he always wants tacos.
The Regrettes formed last December out of the remnants of previous bands, interwoven friendships, and the timely addition of Morris.
“I just got born last summer,” she said regarding her entrée into the social group that inhabits a section of the local music scene also populated by Stucco Jones and Psychic Wheels.
Once Morris and Hutchinson had joined forces, they turned to drummer Adam Scoppa, formerly of the Hutchinson-fronted band Burglar.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a band that sounded kinda like The Supremes,” Scoppa said. “I really wanted to use their voices … to make something that was completely an homage to that style of music.”
The band’s first show in February at Rumba Café got the attention of CD102.5 DJ Lesley James, who encouraged them to submit a song to the CD101 Day contest. The Regrettes rushed into Electraplay Studios, run by friend James Allison, to record their first single, “Been Around Too Long,” which helped win them the opening slot at the LC.
“Get that crunch in!” Hutchinson and Morris yell simultaneously, interrupting their origin story as bassist Dan Barnes chomps into a hard shell.
“We’re becoming the same person,” says Morris dryly. On stage, she belts out songs in a bluesy-pop cadence, balanced by Hutchinson’s sultry, smoky textures. The pair melds together to form one show-stopping vocal presence as they harmonize back and forth. The story continues…
When keyboardist Erica Sparks left the band to move to California, Allison became the natural choice to fill the void. His first show was ComFest, where the six-month-old band headlined the main stage on Saturday night.
They brainstormed the idea of leading a “tambourine flash mob,” in which they invited a large group of friends onstage to close the show with a sea of The Regrettes’ favorite instruments.
“Everybody that was backstage, plus everybody we told, started jumping around,” says Tanner. “I thought it was gonna collapse.”
“It was literally like a trampoline,” adds Barnes.
“I’m literally getting sprung off the stage jumping with 30 friends right now in front of thousands of people,” Tanner says.
The next career milestone – the album release show for their debut, “Don’t Talk Back,” which Tanner glibly describes as being about “love and trouble” – will bring the band to the revered Newport Music Hall stage on November 30th.
“We’re setting a mood for this show,” says Allison. “We want to take it back to another decade … it’s not a five-dollar show, like normal local rock shows. This is a production.”
It will also feature another tambourine flash mob for those who pledged $50 to their album-funding Kickstarter campaign.
“They get to come up on stage and see what we see, and so it’s kind of like, ‘Experience it with us,’” Morris says. “This is crazy.”
Newport Music Hall
1722 N High St.
Editor’s note: Adam Scoppa is a frequent contributor to (614) Magazine