Wednesday, February 18, 2009

5 Questions with Randall Sena of Le Petit Protest

Randall Sena is a bad-ass in more ways than one. He showed up big time on our radar when we first saw Le Petit Protest. He is the front man and behind the scenes guru for that band, which is currently on hiatus. A prolific songwriter by today's standards, his ear for melody and sincere lyrics are right up there with the well known greats. Get him into a conversation about nearly anything and he has a stance on the matter. He has also been know to put his foot in his mouth. Aside from LPP he also operates Certain Sparks, a recording studio in his hometown of Lompoc, California. We asked him 5 questions of the "run of the mill" standard:

1. What got you started playing music? Was it inherited or was it something you discovered on your own, or through friends?

Well, when Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, MTV began airing replays of Nirvana's ‘Unplugged’ appearance. I was 14 years old when I first saw a video clip for their song, ‘All Apologies’.

The naturalness of the performance, the display of actual emotion, & the bands unkempt sense of style all instantly appealed to me. I was completely awe-struck by this music group that was on my TV and yet, looked like they had just gotten out of bed, this strange crew that played their instruments without making exaggerated faces or employing an over the top sense of showmanship. These guys that seemed “poised, yet totally screwed up!”

Specifically, I can remember being moved by Kurt's unique singing style.

I noticed right away that, at the very least, the music was entirely different than any music I had heard before. And even that, somehow, it expressed the doubt, confusion and hypocrisy that existed in us all.

It was completely transformative and shaped many of my ideals as a young man.

I video-taped the ‘Unplugged’ performance in its entirety and would watch it literally everyday before school. One day I was at school talking about Nirvana when another student over heard me and offered to give me a poster of Kurt Cobain. He told me that he played the drums & even knew how to play some Nirvana songs.

At our first jam session I started to play Nirvana’s ‘About a Girl’, but when those drums came in FULL POWER, rendering my little acoustic guitar & borrowed 10 watt amp virtually useless -MY MIND WAS TOTALLY BLOWN. I laughed for 15 minutes straight! It was maybe the best moment of my life.

I’ve been chasing the silver shadow of that experience ever since.

2. What are the pros and cons of being a musician in Lompoc ?

I’m not sure of any real difference between being a musician here in Lompoc or anywhere else. What excites me about writing and playing music is very personal and has very little to do external forces or geographical locale.

3. What makes a great song?

A great song is memorable lyrically and melodically. It should sound both foreign and familiar. It should exist in a realm just outside of technical prowess.

4. What gets you excited/inspires you? And on the other side of the coin, what takes the wind out of your sails?

I am excited by all of life’s potentialities. I am excited by the realization that almost anything you want to can actually come true! I am inspired as a songwriter by looking in people’s windows, and imagining their stories. I am encouraged by those who have lived and continue to live with dignity, amid all the spiritual rubble.

On the other hand, I am very aware of my own, often self imposed, limitations. I feel very, very down when I spend too much time thinking of all that I CANNOT do. I feel spaced out when I acknowledge that I may not be one of the chosen. The wind is taken from my sails when I see young people turning into their parents and their talents, & charisma going to waste.

5. When you are an old man looking back on your life, what do you hope to see?

I hope to see someone who rose above the murky-murk of day-to-day life; found some fresh air up there, and made a dozen, dancing, dreams come true.

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