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The Donnas Interview from Shark Sandwich

 

The Donnas are an all girl band from Palo Alto, California. They just recently released their latest album, American Teenage Rock and Roll Machine on Lookout Records. It was a co-release with Super Teem Records who also put out their self titled debut. They've been rocking since they were around the age of 14 putting out a bunch of singles on Super Teem and collaborating with Darrin Raffaeli of Supercharger. This interview was done on February 27, 1998 after their show with the Groovie Ghoulies at the Lizard and Snake Cafe in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. BC and Slade from The Mustangs helped me a great deal with this interview with all of the Donnas.

SS: HOW DID THE BAND GET STARTED?

DONNA A: When we were 13 in the 8th grade, Donna R and Donna F played bass and guitar and they asked, Donna A (me) and Donna C to play with them for a show called "Damn The Green" which is, you know, just a dumb show.
DONNA R: A bunch of guy bands were gonna play you know, Nirvana covers. And we were like all in 8th grade...it was kind of near the end and we were like, "Man they're all gonna make their mark and think they're rock stars." And we were all little girls going, "That really sucks, there should be some sort of girl band." We could play but we didn't have a band so we just asked them [Donna A and Donna C] to play.
DONNA C: And we only had like 2-3 weeks to learn how to play.

BC: DID YOU PLAY COVERS? WHAT COVERS DID YOU PLAY?

DONNA A: "Big Mouth" by The Muffs
DONNA F: "American Society" by L7
DONNA R: Well they didn't write it but we did their version.
DONNA F: And Shonen Knife, "Ride The Rocket."

BC: SO WERE YOU GOOD EVEN THOUGH YOU ONLY HAD A COUPLE OF WEEKS TO PLAY?

DONNA C: Well I could play the cover songs, but I mean it was really hard. We practiced everyday afterschool because we had nothing else to do and we really wanted to sound good. All the boys at school were like, "Oh so you're going to play the drums, huh?" and they would just be really rude about it.

BC: WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST KICK THEM IN THE BALLS?

DONNA C: We're not violent, besides it's cooler to just prove them wrong.

BC: WERE YOU HAPPY WHEN KURT COBAIN DIED?

DONNA R: No! I wasn't happy. It's not like we don't like Nirvana or that we hate them, it's just that those guys were really unoriginal and played the same song over and over again.
DONNA A: They played at our school like three times and they played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" over and over and it was getting kind of old. And they weren't getting better at playing it either, it was so bad.

SLADE: THEY'RE NOT GOING TO SAY THAT THEY HATE ANYONE BECAUSE THEY'RE FROM CALIFORNIA.

DONNA R: No! We hate people!
DONNA A: Seriously, I only hate people I know. So you guys don't know them. Like people from school or people we meet that are assholes.

BC: YOU GUYS HAVE GRADUATED? HOW WAS THAT?

DONNA R: Ya we graduated last year, class of 97. It was really boring.
DONNA C: We had to sit there for like three hours and she [Donna A] was smart because she brought her Gameboy.
DONNA R: Me and Donna F were really stoned so we really didn't notice, too. We were like, "oh it's over ahhh." Great. Whatever. It was retarded. A bunch of retarded people like played guitar on stage.

BC: WERE THEY REALLY RETARDED? BECAUSE I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO SEE THAT!

DONNA R: (laughs) No!
DONNA A: It was a bunch of lame ass girls singing these songs.
DONNA C: "We'll be friends forever" and shit like that.
DONNA A: "End of the Road."
DONNA R: Didn't they do "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye?"

SS: YOU GUYS ARE BIG METAL FANS RIGHT?

THE DONNAS: Ya!
DONNA A: Mostly cheesy metal though.

BC: SO DID YOU GUYS LIKE NELSON?

THE DONNAS: Ya!
DONNA R: At college, there's like these bulletin boards, that we're supposed to decorate. Me and Donna F, we put like a picture of Nelson up the first day we moved in because that's all we could find. Within an hour, someone had written NO! across it. Like they were really mad.

BC: "AFTER THE RAIN" OR "LOVE AND AFFECTION"?

DONNA R: Both.
DONNA A: "After the Rain" was a better video because they jumped out of the poster.

SLADE: SPEAKING OF VIDEOS, ARE YOU GUYS DOING ONE?

DONNA R: Well we have enough money to [do a video] right now. MTV called and asked Lookout if we had a video and we said no, because we don't. Technically we could make one, but it would be so low budget that they'd probably only play it on 120 Minutes. So why bother? Because the point of having a video is promotion and nobody really watches 120 Minutes.

BC: BECAUSE IT'S TOO LATE. I MEAN YOU HAVE STUFF TO DO THAT'S BETTER THAN WATCHING TV, ESPECIALLY MTV!

DONNA A: Hey I watch MTV!
DONNA R: Even though I can't stand any of the bands on there, I just have to watch to see what's on there.
DONNA C: Well we watch the rap videos.
DONNA R: I like the rap videos. I'm into the Bad Boy Posse. See I've got a crush on Mase and I also love Lil' Kim.

SS: SPEAKING OF "WRAP," ARE YOU GUYS BIG FANS OF THE MUMMIES?

DONNA A: The Mummies? We're friends with some of them.
DONNA R: Russell Quan, the drummer, we hang out with Russell all the time.
DONNA A: We hang out at his house and watch his pornos.
DONNA R: Do you know our black and white record [The Donnas' first album]? That was recorded at Russell Quan's house.

DAN PANIC: ASK THEM WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE CHICKS IN A BAND! (laughs)

DONNA R: (laughs) Ask Panic what it's like to be a fucked up blonde guy in a band.
PANIC: It sucks being ugly!
BC: It sucks being ugly? At least you're married already.
PANIC: That's right!

SLADE: FETISHES, WHAT ARE YOUR FETISHES? I KNOW YOU'VE GOT ONE, EVERYBODY'S GOT ONE!

DONNA A: I don't have any.
DONNA C: Alright, no comment, next question.
DONNA A: I really like guys without bad breath. That's like a de-fetish.

SS: ANYWAY...HOW'S THIS TOUR GOING SO FAR?

DONNA C: Good.
DONNA R: The tour is going good. It rocks! The Groovie Ghoulies rock!
DONNA C: Even if our show sucks, then we can watch them and pretend that we were good. It's easier to forget.

BC: THAT'S DILLUSIONAL THOUGH, OH WELL WE WON'T GET INTO THAT. SO ARE THE DONNAS GOING TO COLLEGE?

DONNA F: We went to college for a quarter. Me and Donna R in Santa Cruz and she [Donna A] went to Berkeley. Donna C took off and she's going to go to NYU.
DONNA R: I went to UCSC and it sucked!

SLADE: WHAT ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO DO WHEN BAND MEMBERS GO OFF TO COLLEGE?

DONNA R: We already have gone off to college. Well she [Donna C] hasn't gone but basically if things keep going really good, she's never going to go.
DONNA A: We just went to kind of appease the parents for a month or two. To get our foot in the door.
DONNA R: Basically all we did was get registered and take care of some little classes but really didn't actually get into college, if you know what I mean. College is boring.

SS: DID YOU SEE KISS ON THEIR LAST TOUR?

DONNA R: No and you know why? We had tickets and they cancelled the show 10 days before.

SS: DO YOU HAVE ANY OF THOSE KISS TOYS?

DONNA R: Ya, I've got three of the new ones, the action figures. But they were all out of Gene because Gene is the most popular. And I bought them at Toys R Us and I didn't get a set you know. After I bought them, I was so mad because I realized that I should have gotten a set. Now you can only find Gene if you get the whole set and the set is like $70-$80. So...I don't have all four. I would much rather have the old ones, but those are worth $200 each.
DONNA F: I've got three, too.

SS: WHAT ARE THE DONNAS' FUTURE PLANS?

DONNA A: We're going back to our hotel room to party with The Groovie Ghoulies. We got like 30 more shows straight. Then we're going to watch Jenny Jones and do some laundry.
DONNA R: We have two days off so on those days we'll be doing laundry...or driving.
DONNA C: Then we go home and we have a show at home, as soon as we get back. Then we have a little bit more time. Then we go to Europe and then a little bit more time, and then we go to Japan.
DONNA R: And then we're recording our second Lookout album.

Unless otherwise noted all text, images, sounds, movies, and layouts
1998, 1999 Jon Michaels. All rights reserved.

"The Donnas Interview." Shark Sandwich. Issue #4, April 13, 1998.
Reprinted without permission. See the original article online at the Shark Sandwich website.

Questions, comments, problems, whatever should be directed to
Jon Michaels, jmichaels@pacificnet.net