Updated: Jun 17, 2020
There's a place for classic indie, most definitely. It makes people unashamedly feel good, and they know what they like, often it transports them straight back to the 90s: parkas, unfussy guitars, and a nice, cold beer. No doubt, those were different times. However, it still holds its popularity in this present day. It’s like legend Liam Gallagher famously said, “I'm not reinventing the wheel, I'm just giving it a new polish.” Southampton’s Regent is firmly placed in this camp, and after a few colourful try-outs, they finally found a line-up that they wanted to present to the world. Ben Rooke, lead singer, and songwriter shared what they are all about to us.
Regent isn’t brand-new on the scene, taking a break in 2017 when sorrowfully manager Bruce Replogle passed away. After an interval, it was time to take the plunge back into the music world and carry on where they left off. Ben begins, “I already knew George Grattan, a great drummer from Southampton, so when I first wanted to reform Regent as a new line up after having years out of music, I contacted him first. He was well up for the idea and mentioned that he knew a great bass player from college, and that's how Luke Trundell joined. Things were shaping up, but the trio hit a slight bump in the road. “We started auditioning for lead guitarists; the first two auditions, to be quite honest, were awful, so we let them know in the nicest possible way and arranged another. We met Chris and everything felt right; it was like clockwork grinding for the first time. He instantly joined the band, and we booked our first gig as the new Regent at the Joiners in Southampton as a Headline Slot.”
You won’t be entirely surprised with their inspirations, where you’ll find all the greats. Ben enthuses, “Our biggest musical influences are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Oasis, but the list is endless. The main stand out influence has to be The Beatles, although we sadly missed the 60s, and I'll always be gutted about it!” The lads hope to carry on the good work of old and spread the word to a new generation. Rooke thinks about how he would describe Regent’s sound in three words: “It would be beautiful, powerful, and raw. I find the lyrics always beautifully true, and the guitar riffs are powerful, delivering something honest and real.”
Feeling comfortable taking the reins, Ben considers that the process isn’t collaborative as such at the moment, but as relationships tighten and develop, who knows. “Most of the time I bring a song to the table eighty percent finished, and the members add their magic to it, but the more we play together, the more we've noticed general collaborations appearing. I wouldn't be surprised if we write songs as a band soon,” he muses.
A long-standing relationship with Shed Seven’s Fraser Smith, who's worked with true heavyweights Ian Brown and Kate Bush among others, meant there was no other choice to produce their new single A Time To Loose The Blues. “Fraser has produced my music for years, and I was lucky to link up with him through a previous musician at Guildford Music College. From day one, he already understood our sort of sound as it was along the lines of his band Shed Seven. But the main thing I used to say/want on every track was to make the vocals are as much like John Lennon as possible; I've been told many times in the past that I have a similar tone to my voice, and I'm a massive fan anyway.”
Time To Loose The Blues, released June 26th, is a good old dose of traditional, melodic indie music; it’s sweet. The lead singer created it in 2017. He reminisces, “I wrote it Just after my manager passing away, followed by a break up with a long-term girlfriend, and felt I had to find a way to release the pain. I didn't start recording it until 2018, and even after recording it, I sat on it, ready for the right time to release it, after, of course, getting the full new line up for Regent ready. It was a tough time, but a great song came from it, and that's the beauty of life.” Two singles are already released, all hallmarked with the band's rock and roll essence but showing individuality too. “The new single is a power ballad, very different to our first single I Told You So, which was rocky, in your face, raw guitar music. And the follow-up single to that, Again, was actually more of a summer love song, explaining how love doesn't work unless it’s right. So this new single is a get the crap out your head and move on kinda power ballad; its time to lose the blues, man, literally.”
Sell-out shows are the norm for them back in Southampton, and the quartet holds that support dear, never taking it for granted. “The most memorable gig for this new line up and the new Regent has to be our first gig together in September last year and Headline Slot at The Joiners in Southampton. It felt like a massive relief to be back doing what I love the most, which is music, and the crowd was off the scale, probably because I was on form as well ha...honestly great gig, sincerely.” Looking ahead to the future, they have two more singles planned, recorded, and ready to roll, with a debut album a hopeful possibility in 2021, along with (fingers crossed) a tour.
Stephen Lynn’s Dionysus Art for the single artwork bears the sentiment R.I.P. Agapto for a childhood friend who also passed away recently. This pays tribute to both their much-missed manager and their close pal. Regent hopes that Time To Loose The Blues will be part of a musical legacy. Ben ends candidly thinking about this: “The last time I spoke to my manager on the phone before he passed away, he said to me, 'you are a very powerful musician, and I just wanted to tell you that.' It was as if he knew or felt what was coming. It hurts to know that but has always stuck in my mind, and now motivates me.”
Article by Beverley Knight