House of Pies in Los Feliz aptly frames a chat with Eastside coed melodo-punks the Randies, its retro guilty-pleasure atmosphere reflecting the bands Happy Days veneer. Their debut album, At the Friendship Motor Inn, has just been released nationwide; leaving on tour the next morning, the founding women of the Randies bassist/vocalist Sienna DeGovia and singing guitarists Laura Cataldo and Megan McCarter are quietly effervescent. And they should be: Theyve created one of those rare records that satisfy both critics and crowds. For me, it has to come down to the Beatles, the Beach Boys and early Motown those great old harmonies and catchy melodies, declares DeGovia. Blondie and the Ramones, adds McCarter. My main influence is a lot of punk rock, NOFX and stuff, and Im still really into it. And thats what you get with the Randies: gorgeously executed three-way harmonies and brain-staining melodies, blurred with punky buzz, fuzz and irreverence. While their photos ape pulp-fiction book covers and Kennedy-era colors, their dressed-down live look aligns with a democratic attitude. This gang/family revels in its cottage-industry endeavor, each member expressing a common passion differently: McCarter is focused and palpably determined; DeGovia is the popular cheerleader with nothing to prove but everything to prove; Cataldo verbalizes less, beaming through an exotic visage built for smoldering; drummer Kelly Cairns who joined after the recording of Friendship Motor Inn is the imposing yet easygoing anchor who brings his studio experience and arrangement savvy. The Randies bonded three years back at Mr. Ts Bowl, a shabby former bowling alley in Highland Park that serves as hub for the Eastside indie scene. Oozing work ethic, theyve played anywhere and everywhere, pounded the sidewalks self-promoting, survived a change of drummers. The Randies is the first serious band for the girls, and their motivations no mystery: Its kinda like what our song Boys in Stereo is about I just got tired of watching other people do it, DeGovia explains. And its fun its fun to get up there, to write songs, to make something and put it out there in the world. Theres something gratifying too about putting so much energy into yourself, because Ive spent a lot of time putting a lot of energy into other people. Following a speculative e-mail from McCarter, producers Rob Hoffman and Heather Holley were sufficiently seduced by the Randies to make At the Friendship Motor Inn (named after an actual motel on Crenshaw Boulevard) the first release on their Elicit Music label. Wed never [recorded an album] before, so we didnt really know what we were doing, says DeGovia. I had breakdowns during the recording process, admits McCarter. I remember we would go up one by one to the upstairs studio, and Laura came down one time just crying and wed all been to that place and back while doing vocals. The resulting record, though hardly progressive, is vivacious, vivid and shimmering with uncut songcraft; its three-dimensional range belies its superficial flippancy (titles like Kevin Bacon dont help). The wistful sense of loss in Hype-rion and Make It Right recalls Blondies more poignant passages, while Iron Monkey melds Buzzcocks bristle-pop with SoCal mall-punk. Less effective, and neglecting the Randies strengths, is Put Out: cluttered n clichéd early-90s riot-grrrl sniping 10 years past its sell-by date. As they emerge from the underground, the Randies are supersensitive to indie rocks infamously insular mindset. From day one we intended to sell out! DeGovia semi-jokes, provoking groans from her bandmates. The whole idea of writing songs and playing music thats inclusive and fun . . . I think a lot of us have had experiences in the Eastside indie music scene where its a little bit snobby and not very warm. Were about playing shows for everyone and celebrating. With a couple of Warped tour dates confirmed and album No. 2 taking shape, the Randies are enjoying the kind of momentum that could burst the berms of the indie trenches. And boy, can these gals put away some pie. The Randies play the Echo on Tuesday, May 24; theyre also on the Fresno (July 4) and Pomona (July 6) Warped tour bills.
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