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MUSIC : Big-Voiced Singer Leads Twelve Stories' Climb : Tina Sicre's band offers gritty songs to Santa Barbara audiences. 'I don't do a lot of love songs. I write about issues,' she says.

July 29, 1993|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Tina Sicre (pronounced SEE-cray) has a great voice (pronounced WOWIE!). She'll be fronting her band, Twelve Stories, at the ever-affordable Hot Spots in Santa Barbara on Friday night.

Sicre, who isn't very big, sings big. She wades into her gritty songs with all the fervor of Godzilla finding a Yugo under his Christmas tree.

Originally, Sicre was just a lady with her guitar. Then she expanded her horizons and diminished her payroll by hiring four male musicians who turned her into a bandleader. Jim Mason plays guitar; Roger Smith is the bass player; Bryan Smith is the percussionist, and Mike Pearl is the drummer. Everybody sings, but four-fifths of Twelve Stories sing backup harmonies.

Twelve Stories has been around for nearly a year and has played the usual S.B. locations with some of the usual suspects--most notably Tao Jonz, Circus Frequency and the Gathering. So far, the band has a three-song tape with dreams for a bigger and better effort.

In a recent phone interview, Sicre discussed her musical career so far.

Why Twelve and not Eleven or Thirteen Stories?

Nobody really knows. We had a list of over 50 names. We were playing under my name as the Tina Sicre Band, but there's no big reason for the name change.

How did you end up in Santa Barbara?

I went to high school in Indio. I was a desert rat. I came to Santa Barbara once to visit, then I transferred to UCSB from the College of the Desert because I loved the area. I got my degree in sociology in 1991 and now I work at UCSB on the computer systems. I've been here five years now.

Tell me about your singing career.

I have been writing songs since I was 9 years old and now I'm almost 25. At first, I wouldn't let anyone know what I was doing. I started playing in public here about a year ago, just a woman and her guitar. We came together in October as a full group. We started off as an acoustic group, then Jim said he knew a guy named Roger who could play bass. Then Roger knew a guy named Bryan who played congas. Then the boys started dropping hints for me to get a drummer, but I didn't want one. I went on vacation for two weeks and when I came back, this drummer named Mike was hanging around our practice, and as it turned out, he knew all our songs. Reluctantly, I took him on. Recently, we had a gig without him, and I could hardly make it.

What do you think of the Santa Barbara music scene?

I think it's exciting, especially now that I'm involved in it. I get a lot of support as a woman doing folk rock. The guys from Tao Jonz and the Gathering have been great. I like Circus Frequency and Ladybug Garden and bands that have female lead singers.

Can Twelve Stories play longer than the Grateful Dead?

I had a good 15 songs before I knew the boys; now we have a good 20 songs.

What are Twelve Stories songs about?

I write a lot from what I've experienced in the world. I don't do a lot of love songs. I write about issues, but I try to take a different angle.

Describe your music.

That's a hard one because we all come from different musical backgrounds. I always tell the boys I was folk, but they tell me I'm rock. I guess we do folk rock, I don't know.

What's it like being the only woman in the band?

Being the only woman is like having four big brothers, which has its pluses and minuses. I never thought I'd be in a band; I always thought I'd be by myself. I have a vision, and these guys have the talent and skill to make it come about. They can interpret what I'm trying to get across. They're amazing.

How does a band get signed out of Santa Barbara?

I have no clue. For now, we're really interested in learning to work together well, and develop a clearer idea of what our sound is. We just put out that demo because we wanted to have something to offer. Hopefully, we'll have a bigger project to offer by the end of the year--a full CD or another tape.

If your band could have a dream gig with someone, who would it be?

We're going to open for U2 when they go back to their acoustic roots.

Who do you think has a good voice?

My heroes? Bono from U2. I like Emily Saliers from Indigo Girls and I like what Tracy Chapman is doing. When I was little, I liked Helen Reddy and Cher. I enjoy listening to voices that go for a challenge. I write music that's hard for me to sing.

Are you besieged by male groupies covering you in flowers and proposing marriage?

Never. I don't get any attention. The boys get phone numbers thrown at them, and I just stand there.

* WHERE AND WHEN

Twelve Stories at Hot Spots, 36 State St., Santa Barbara, 963-4233. Friday, 9 p.m. It's free.

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