Born the same year Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me," Blondie's "Heart Of Glass" and The Knack's "My Sharona" ruled the airwaves, the four Palo Alto, Calif., women who make up the Donnas were, perhaps, destined to create power pop music.
After nearly a decade in the business, and having blasted past the all-important milestone of turning 21, the Donnas signed with Atlantic Records and released their debut for the imprint last fall. "Spend the Night" is the tightest and most crisp-sounding Donnas record to date, a veteran confidence replacing what was once sheer teenage exuberance. They've been on the road since the fall, and will make a stop at the Tweeter Center later this week as part of the newly resuscitated Lollapalooza, where they'll rub elbows with Jane's Addiction, Audioslave and Queens Of The Stone Age.
Q: Why'd the band come to Chicago to rehearse?
A: It's kind of hard to find good practice spaces in San Francisco because they keep closing them all down. We thought it might be good to get away and practice and get used to the time change.
Q: The Donnas have played here countless times over the years.
A: We've never spent this many days here. This is the first time we ever saw the Magnificent Mile and all that. Usually we just play one night and leave. So we've been doing a little shopping, which is bad.
Q: Shopping? Is that very "Donnas"?
A: Yeah. We've always been shoppers. We really like malls and stuff like that. We're going to be on tour for two months, so we needed clothes. We weren't shopping at Chanel or anything like that. We went to Filene's Basement.
Q: What about The Donnas' "look"?
A: We've always worn jeans, except for a phase where we wore plastic pants for a while. We were trying to be like Motley Crue or something, but it wasn't completely working out. We wore the matching T-shirts for a while. We thought it was cool that we had something that made us look like a gang, 'cause we've always been kind of a gang. But then when people would review our shows, sometimes all they would do is talk about the T-shirts, and they wouldn't even talk about the music at all. So we thought, "Let's take that away so they have to talk about the music."
Q: Does the "punk" label the band has been tagged with bug you?
A: From the beginning we said, "We're not punk." We never have been punk. I think because we were on [indie label] Lookout, and there were a lot of pop-punk bands on Lookout [like Green Day and Screeching Weasel], people just assumed we were part of that crowd--even if they hadn't heard our music. We're a straight-ahead rock 'n' roll band.
Michael C. Harris is a metromix special contributor.
Originally published July 9, 2003.
Don't call 'em punk
Before Lollapalooza, the Donnas shop and rock in Chicago
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