The Donnas are an American all-female hard rock band from Palo Alto, California. They draw inspiration from The Ramones, AC/DC, and Kiss. Rolling Stone has stated that "the Donnas offer a guileless take on adolescent alienation; they traffic in kicks, not catharsis, fun rather than rage". MTV has stated that the band offers "nothing more than a good old-fashioned rock & roll party". After gathering a cult following in the punk scene since their 1993 debut, the band achieved major label commercial success in the early 2000s and afterward.
All band members were born in 1979; Brett Anderson on May 30 (vocals), Allison Robertson on August 26 (guitar, vocals), Maya Ford on January 8 (bass guitar, vocals), and Torry Castellano on January 8 (drums, percussion). As best friends, they formed in the eighth grade to play for their school's "Day on the Green." The only girl band in their town Palo Alto, California, they were relatively unknown until they were out of high school. The band derives its name from Donna Scanelli, who resides at Liberty Tavern. They are all self-taught musicians and practiced in Castellano's garage nearly every day during high school.
Towards the end of their high school days, while they were still known as "The Electrocutes," they decided to create another band (with the same members) that would play softer tunes without distorting the metal queen image of The Electrocutes. To help their fans distinguish between the two bands, they all took matching "Donna" monikers, where all of their names were Donna and their last names were the first initial of their last name (Brett Anderson became Donna A, etc.), which they used only when performing as "The Donnas."
They worked with producer Darin Raffaelli for their first two albums, the first of which, simply called The Donnas, was entirely written by Raffaelli and released on his own Superteem! record label. (It was later released again on Lookout! Records.) They took a week off of their senior year of high school to tour Japan as The Electrocutes. Afterwards, they signed with Lookout! Records. As the band grew, they were urged to sign with a major label company. In 2001, they signed with Atlantic Records.
In 2002, The Donnas released Spend the Night as their Atlantic debut. The album represented their first attempt at mainstream success. With their single "Take it Off" they were booked for appearances on Total Request Live, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Late Show with David Letterman. In the summer of 2003, they played the main stage at Lollapalooza. In 2004, they released their sixth album Gold Medal. In February 2005, they toured Australia with the Big Day Out music festival, playing from Sydney to Perth.
Atlantic repeatedly placed the Donnas' music in video game soundtracks. "You've Got A Crush On Me" can be heard in the PlayStation 2 game, Splashdown. "Who Invited You" can be found on soundtrack for True Crime: Streets of LA and MVP Baseball 2003. "I Don't Want to Know" is in the Gran Turismo 4 soundtrack also and a cover of the song was also used for Donkey Konga 2 for the Nintendo GameCube. "I Don't Want to Know" was also used as the theme song for the first season of The-N's hit series, "South of Nowhere". A cover of "Take it Off" is featured in Guitar Hero and added as a downloadable track in Guitar Hero 2 on the Xbox 360 (released in 2006) and Downhill Domination (released in 2004). Rock Band 2 (for the PS3, Xbox 360 & Wii), released by Harmonix in 2008, features the track "New Kid In School" which was released exclusively on Apples iTunes service. "Fall Behind Me" was also used in a national television commercial advertising the Nissan Exterra.
Atlantic also energetically marketed the Donnas through placements in numerous film soundtracks. The band appeared in the movie Drive Me Crazy in 1999 (as The Electrocutes), and later on the TV show Charmed performing the single "Fall Behind Me" at P3. They also appeared in the 1999 teen comedy Jawbreaker as the prom band, contributing two songs to the soundtrack ("Rock 'N' Roll Machine" and "Checkin' It Out"). A cover of "Roll On Down The Highway" was used in a Disney commercial. The Donnas can also be heard on Mean Girls during the end credits playing a cover of the Billy Idol song "Dancing With Myself", and they also contributed to the soundtrack of the movie Grind. The video "Too Bad About Your Girl" also features the cast of that film. The song "Take It Off" features in the movie Dodgeball. The song "Take Me To The Backseat" can be heard in the movie D.E.B.S. (2004 film). A cover version of the KISS song "Strutter" was used in the soundtrack to the 1999 movie Detroit Rock City (film).
On May 19, 2006 The Donnas posted an announcement on their public message board (which required free registration for viewing) that they had "parted ways with Atlantic Records," claiming "[t]he decision was entirely mutual and completely amicable and will not impact the band, nor will it impact upon the writing, recording or touring for the next Donnas album." Within a year of being dropped by their label, in March 2007 the Donnas released a first song (titled "Don't Wait Up For Me") from their forthcoming new independently recorded and financed album, along with a new logo. They also changed their style of dress, mostly wearing leather jackets and tall boots on stage.
The Donnas released their 7th studio album titled Bitchin' on September 18, 2007 on their own Purple Feather Records label. The band released three songs from Bitchin' on their official MySpace. Bitchin' was produced by Jay Ruston and The Donnas.
In the year of 2008 The Donnas toured with Melbourne, Australian band "Kisschasy" as part of their "Skin and Bones" tour.
In the year 2008 The Donnas toured Canada & the U.S. with The Hives.
Maya Ford (Donna F) attended NAMM, where she signed autographs on January, 17th 2009 at the Ampeg Booth.
Allison Robertson launched a side-project in early 2009 with a new cover band called Chelsea Girls. The band has played several shows at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles garnering tons of media attention, where they now host a monthly residency. The band also played two shows in Chicago for the grand opening of the new club La Salle Power Company.
The Donnas announced on May 6, 2009 their newest project "Greatest Hits, Vol 16", which was released on July 7, 2009. The album will be released on the bands own Purple Feather Records. The package will contain newly recorded older songs, as well as B-sides, never before released material and some new songs. The band will join Blondie & Pat Benatar for a summer tour starting in July 2009 in support of the release. Drummer Torry Castellano will not play on any of the summer tour dates as she is having shoulder problems. The Donnas have chosen long time friend Amy of The Demonics to fill in for Torry on tour. They will be opening for Pat Benatar and Blondie on their co-headlining tour.
The Donnas drummer, Torry Castellano, on July 17th created a Band Playlist entitled "In Case of Road Rage Play This" for the music website Indie Rock Reviews. She also posted notes about each song and the influence they have had on her. The playlist is a wonderful glimpse into the music that made the band what they are today.
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