The Donnas - United States
During The Donnas’ last tour through North America, one of their most memorable shows ended with one of them face down on the hood of a cop car, arms behind her back, handcuffs cutting off the circulation to her clenched fists. Her crime? Drinking whiskey in the streets of Canada.
Yes, The Donnas are for real and they are here to stay. They are survivors in an industry known more for its comet casualties than career success stories. They are successful, smart, savvy, and sexy. They are the American Rock n’ Roll Machine.
The legend begins in a Palo Alto junior high school in Northern California where four self-described “dorky pre-teen girls” form a rock n’ roll band at the age of 13 in 1993. Over the course of the next 14 years, six critically acclaimed albums are released and The Donnas tour the planet several times over to an ever-expanding, international fanbase of “Donnaholics”. From Palo Alto to the stages of Letterman and SNL and the pages of Rolling Stone and Billboard, The Donnas have grown to become one of the best female rock groups of all time.
The band has always attracted an almost ridiculously wide spectrum of fans who would otherwise never be seen together in the same room. Where else than at a Donnas show would you see fans rubbing shoulders together in the front row wearing t-shirts from such diametrically opposed bands as Motley Crue, the Mr. T Experience, and Maroon 5? Some even make parole in time for the gig and bring special souvenirs from the Big House. No joke—in Oklahoma City, a paroled Donnaholic ex-con showed up with four Oklahoma State license plates he made “when the guards weren’t lookin” and each imprinted with a band member’s name.
So who are The Donnas in 2007? The players remain the same—Brett Anderson on lead vocals, Maya Ford on bass, Allison Robertson on guitar and Torry Castellano on drums-a testament to the girls’ talent and dedication. But there is a vast divide between the awkward tweens of the 1990s and The Donnas of the 2000s. Besides utterly poker-hot musicianship (and way better hair), The Donnas have entered into a new chapter of maturity and comfort in their career.
“The big difference between then and now is that we are not afraid,” states Robertson, one of the best rock guitarists, female, male or otherwise, playing today. “We know what we want, we know how to get it, and we are ready and willing to take it. It’s almost like we have come full circle. Maybe in some way we are still the same dorky pre-teens who started playing because we love rock n’ roll. The difference is that now we are completely comfortable and confident with who we are.”
Throughout the ups and downs of rock n’ roll’s daily rations, the ladies stay true to who they are every spike-heeled step of the way. The Donnas are a four-way, equal partnership of women in friendship, art and business. There is a deep and rare trust that exists between the members that most bands could never dream of achieving in a similar group dynamic. That is why most bands break up and The Donnas continue to stick together.
“I think that’s our secret to surviving in the industry this long,” says Robertson. “We’re really close. We can read each other’s minds and order for each other at dinner. We also truly respect one another.” “We always stick to our guns as a band and as friends,” adds Castellano, the group’s hurricane-force drummer (and whip-smart business woman who has corrected many a promoter’s math). “We remember who we are. We don’t want to be anything but ourselves at the end of the day.”
As for their sound, “We’ve always felt somewhat sceneless,” says Castellano. “But these days, when we go to a metal show I feel like ‘these are our people!’ That’s where I really feel the connection-Motley Crue, Cinderella, Aerosmith, Def Leppard-that’s where I want our band to be.”
This brings us to the aural thunderclap that is Bitchin’, The Donnas’ brand new record, an unapologetically anthemic hard rock album. Their much-improved luscious locks must have been a four-way blur of headbanging fury at this recording session. Thirty shout-along, swaggering rockers were slimmed down to an album-length fourteen tunes, all co-produced with Jay Ruston (The Polyphonic Spree, Meat Loaf).
24x18 bass drum
16x16 floor tom
14x6.5 Sensitone brass snare drum
B1000 boom stand x 2
C1000 straight stand
TH1000 tom holder
S1000 snare stand