Vocalist/Bassist Sienna DeGovia
Talking with Sienna DeGovia- the vocalist/bassist for The Randies- is like chatting with a friend. Her band put out one of the best releases of 2006 and they’re poised for stardom, but she’s got no rockstar poses or hangups. She’s a former ska lover who gets embarassed after meeting her idol, has a twin sister she can’t live without and is convinced that the sharks in Florida will climb onto the beach and eat her should she ever step onto the sands of the East Coast.
Why a hearse on the album cover?
Our title of the album, Saw The Light, has some different layered meanings, but basically it’s about getting out of harm’s way. We had this idea of pushing a car onto railroad tracks while a train’s coming down, and we just had a friend who had a hearse, and that was the coolest car we could find- and for free. (laughs) Maybe narrowly escaping death, I don’t know.
What books or movies turn you on or inspire you?
Ooh… I’m actually a big reader, and I have a new favorite book. It’s From Here To Eternity by James Jones, and I think it’s the characters- I just love getting really into a good character story. And visually, I like a movie to be really opulent and over the top in some way- visually or in storyline. I think my favorite movie that’s come out in the last few years is- something I can’t remember the name of! What’s it called? Um, something something of the spotless mind…
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Fantastic!
Yeah! Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The cleverness of the plot. Ooh! And Lost in Translation– that, I thought, was just visually stunning and it really tapped into something emotionally.
What song or album brings you back to grade school and to high school?
Well, my early childhood I was a Beatles fanatic. I was raised on a strict diet of The Beatles, but, ya know, I had my Duran Duran moments (laughs), so there’s that. Then in high school I was kind of a nerd rocker- anything quirky like Violent Femmes, They Might Be Giants. My brother got me into all of this early ’70s prog rock like Genesis and Yes (laughs), stuff like that. I was kind of screwed up on the time- I wasn’t so much into the music of the day. I used to just listen to any Beatles song and sing along. I have endless memories of driving around, when I was little, with my Mom listening to all of the Beatles albums.
You were in a ska band.
Yeah, right out of high school I was in a ska band called One Legged Bob. There were, like, 7 or 8 of us depending on the weekend (laughs). We had a lot of fun! I just listening to the 7″, the one recording that we made, a little while ago and it’s terrrrrible! We couldn’t even sing and every instrument was out of tune, it was so bad! But it was the most fun band I think I’ve ever been in. We’d play all of these parties and people didn’t care (how bad we were), they just wanted to dance! That was the fun about being in a dance band. People were so into it. Nowadays it’s so hard to tell if an audience is loving you, or completely bored (laughs) because everyone is really cool and nobody moves around… Ya know, until they burst into screams of adulation, but until that- while you’re playing- nobody’s moving except to move their heads a little. But at a ska show everyone was just dancing like crazy, so it was easy to tell that they were into you.
What made you switch genres, if you were so into it?
I don’t know. That band kind of fell apart, everyone went their separate ways- to college and stuff. I had always had a love for power ballad rock songs, I was really into the idea of singing big songs. I’ve always sung, but in the ska band I mostly played saxophone because I’ve also been very shy for most of my life and have been afraid to sing. Laura had approached me about starting a band, and she was playing mostly punk and rock music and I was into it. I wanted to write stadium rock ballads. (laughs) I pushed her in that direction, like big vocals and drama in the songs, and she kind of pushed me in a more edgy direction. So, it worked out.
You said that you were really shy. Why do people with shy personalities so often end up becoming singers? Is that some sort of masochistic thing?
YES! I would say so! It was extreeemely painful for me to get up and sing for people. I used to sing, with my sister and stuff, at parties- just accapella- and I would DIE before we’d go onstage. I would just get so afraid that I would lose my voice completely, I would shake so bad that I couldn’t sing… but I love singing, it’s my great musical love, so I never wanted to stop. I’ve always been compelled to it. The more shows we do, the better it gets, but I still get major stage fright and panic. Sometimes they (the band) have to smack me, throw stuff at me, to help me snap out of it! I guess it is masochistic, I don’t know why. It’s just the love of doing it that overrides the pain and fear.
I read that you were a twin. I just finished reading a book about twins and how there exists this secret language and intense bond between them. Is that true?
Yeah! Well, I’m a fraternal twin- so I’m not identical- but there’s definitely a bond that’s gotten even stronger as we got older- well, no, it’s always been there. I don’t know, I always wished we had more of a psychic connection. My sister’s really into travelling and I always wished that I could know what she was doing wherever she was in the world. Definitely a closeness like no other. Sometimes I think, or worry, that she’s gonna die and she’s definitely the person on the planet that I would be afraid of losing the most. ‘Cause she’s always been there, ya know. Wherever I was shy, she was not. Wherever I had shortcomings, she could pick up the slack, and wherever she had shortcomings I was better at those things. So it’s a balance.
This book I read is called The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It’s a novel, with some haunting elements, but at its core it’s about twins. I couldn’t put it down, you should check it out.
Wow! I’m gonna get it and it sounds like it would be a perfect Christmas present for my sister- so thank you! (laughs)
With all of the bands, and scenes, that always come out of in and around L.A. is there any sense of community in the scene?
It’s hard in Los Angeles because there’s a lot of competition and it can be very music industry scene-y and gross. Then there’s also this too cool for school vibe that came out of the Silver Lake indie rock scene- which I have no time for that! I find it completely annoying and boring. But I, and we The Randies, are part of a really close-knit community of bands. We have a club every Tuesday night- actually it just moved to Fridays this last year- called Kiss or Kill. It switches venues every year, and the bands there have always been extremely supportive of one another. It’s a good thing to be a part of after dabbling in the other scenes in L.A. where you go to a club and people are only there to see their friend’s band play. No one’s interested in music, and in sticking around for a whole show. It’s refreshing to be part of an actual scene where people actually like music.
One of your first shows with The Randies was opening for The Breeders, and you’re a big Pixies fan. Did you get to meet Kim Deal?
Huge fan! I kind of hovered around her in the backstage area. It was a total fluke that we ended up playing with her. It was at Mr T’s Bowl and they already had the night booked with local bands, and then The Breeders contacted Mike Teevy- who was booking there- and asked if they could squeeze on cause they were trying to do a secret show before their tour. It was an awesome show, and she was really cool- from what I could tell. I didn’t actually meet her, face to face, until a few years later at a Pixies show…and that was just embarassing. It’s kind of embarassing to meet your idol sometimes.
Was it disappointing, or just awkward?
I was just really drunk! (laughs) I was just babbling about how we had played our first show ever opening up for her at Mr T’s… I was one of those things where you wake up the next day, hand to face, and go, “Oooohhhh, what did I say?” How embarassing! It’s not a shining moment in my past, but I just pretend it didn’t happen in that way, but it did. She was very polite though, she must have drunken fans climbing all over her all of the time so she must have some way to block it out.
Yesterday was an election day (Nov. 7th). Are you at all involved in politics, or current political issues?
I try to be aware. My sister- my twin- is a public defender, so she’s very involved in certain issues and holds these get-togethers that are political information gathering parties, basically. I try to stay (informed), but it’s really hard on the road ’cause I can’t get my daily fix of NPR which is what I really rely on. I don’t watch tv, so I never know what’s going on as far as network news. I was stoked with the outcome of the election! I though it was pretty amazing! Finally! We spoke up, so that was good.
Do you have any future tour plans?
We’re doing a short tour in December- just five days or something. In January we’ll head out to the East coast, try to do a residency out there, or something. We just keep lapping the country.
You need to get down here to Orlando.
That’s one thing we want to do! If we can get into some kind of residency and then tour up & down the coast. I really want to see the East coast- just for selfish reasons, but also to spread The Randies word! Yeah, I want to go to Florida, I’ve never been there. Except for the sharks. There are so many there! Don’t they just come up onto the sand and get’cha?!
They do, actually. That’s why we have to lock our doors at night, because in Florida the sharks can walk.
(laughs) I’m sure!
I fuckin’ love sharks. They’re fascinating. I grew up here so I didn’t realize that it’s not everywhere that you hear of shark attacks almost daily.
Really? Do you, like, see them swim by when you’re swimming and stuff?
When I was younger I worked on the beach and I boogie boarded a lot… I’ve seen the fins in the distance…
OH MY GOOOOD! That’s so scary!
They’re scary, but they’re amazing. They’re the perfect killing machine!
(laughs) Well, I saw this video- from a helicopter- of a Florida beach- and there were all of these swimmers and the camera zoomed out like 10 feet, or even closer, and it was just teeming with sharks. Nobody knew they were there- it’s scarrrry!!!!
Come to Florida, and I’ll keep the sharks away from you while you’re here.
Ok, good. I’m gonna count on you.