The Regrettes join Columbus soul movement
Crafted with an emphasis on pop appeal and passionate call-and-response vocals born from gospel music, Motown once captured the attention of the world and birthed the northern soul movement. The pop music created at the Hitsville studios, which produced wildly famous hits like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “What’s Going On” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and immortalized Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes as permanent fixtures in pop music’s lexicon continues to impact young musicians who reside just a few hundred miles from Detroit.
The Regrettes, a female-fronted soul and R&B revival band make their stock in trade from the raw, rootsy sound and rhythms made famous by Motown and Stax records. Recalling the vocal delivery of Aretha, Martha, Etta and even at times the “Godfather of soul,” singers Meghan Hutchinson and Lizzy Morris trade sultry harmonies and lines about love, lost love and everything in between. Backed by drummer Adam Scoppa, bassist Dan Barnes, key master James Allison and guitarist Dennis Tanner, the band is fierce, nuanced and headed to Peach’s in Yellow Springs, hoping to baptize another congregation of soul devotees.
You guys have been together for just over a year now but you’ve already made quite a splash in Columbus. Was Cowtown chomping at the bit for a soul band?
I think it has kind of been happening in Columbus. There was this undercurrent of people who were starting to get into it. We have a regular Motown dance party and there was another band called Tolford and Company who’ve been doing the same thing, but with a male lead on the keys. I think people are always excited to see a band that is a performing band. I think, in general, people want to be entertained. It always ups the excitement level to go see a band and have their stage show make you say, “Holy crap!” –Lizzy Morris
It certainly makes a difference when you have a sound that is so universal. Do you think that has helped make your transition from newbies to staples so expeditious?
Absolutely. Our music appeals to any age. Even our parents – who are our number one fans – love it. An older generation being able to get into a band from the local music scene is really exciting. -LM
Is “Motown-influenced” how you describe your sound?
I always tell them that it is a Motown sound, but that we definitely veer from that. We have two female lead singers who pass the torch back and forth. -LM
You are from Dayton correct?
Yeah, I’m from Englewood. -LM
When you were growing up in Dayton did your parents play all these old soul records and you just came out in your PJs and let them have it?
I was obsessed with Michael Jackson and learned how to dance to Jackson 5. My mom really loved The Shirelles and The Supremes, that kind of stuff. In high school, I had friends who were obsessed with Prince and Sly and The Family Stone. That has all inspired me toward my sound now. -LM
Does your band challenge the guidelines of the soul archetype or are you pretty true to form?
We play it pretty true to form. We all grew up loving this music. It’s not like we go into it saying, “This song needs to sound like ‘this.’” But Meghan or I write the songs and it is whatever moves us. -LM
Does the stuff that Meghan does ever get under your skin like “Man, I have to write a song like that!”?
No way! Our voices are completely different, as are our styles. My songs are all the really crazy upbeat screamer songs. Her songs are all the pretty torch songs. Both sounds are needed to create what The Regrettes are. -LM
I think a lot of the old soul bands did a lot of alternating between barnburners and ballads.
My preference is for barnburners for sure. I think like a man would’ve in Motown music. I idolize James Brown. Meghan is definitely a Supremes girl. -LM
Who in the band is the most avaricious when it comes to the Motown influence?
That would be Adam [Scoppa]. He is a local DJ that only spins records and his record collection is absolutely unreal. He is obsessed with Stax Records and ‘50s B-sides and that fusion of Motown into more of a rock n’ roll sound. He does a local dance party called Heatwave that is all ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s B-sides. It is extremely popular in Columbus. So we’ll play something and he’ll be like, “That sounds like this…” And then he gives us our homework. He tells us what we should listen to how we can dial it in. -LM
In recent years, it seems as though the indie underground has embraced artists like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings as quickly as the mainstream latched on to Amy Winehouse personalities. Do you feel like indie and mainstream audiences get you in the same way?
I don’t know yet. Right now, the indie crowd does. We played ComFest [in Columbus] last year and were feeling the love. So you’d hope that it crosses the board. I guess we just have to wait and see. -LM
The Regrettes perform Saturday March 9 at Peach’s Grill, 104 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs. Free for 18 and up. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/theRegrettes.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@daytoncitypaper.com