Of Dutch descent, Sietsema is from the Midwest. Around 1978 he left college to move to New York City, where his wife-to-be was moving. He worked in a book publishing house and later became the bass player for a band called Mofungo for 12 years, which had Elliott Sharp on guitar. The band had several releases.
He started a newsletter called Down the Hatch and charged $10 a year for five issues.