The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday June 5th

Donnas Grow Up, Rock On

"We're big fans of Waffle House," said Allison Robertson (otherwise known as Donna R.). "That's why I'm really excited about the tour, because there's lots and lots of Waffle Houses everywhere."

Kidding aside, being on the road Willie Nelson-style is the life for the Donnas, a foursome of gals that come across as Hole crossed with '70s girl group The Rascals. These are girls who could most undoubtedly kick your ass -- and then write a song about it.

But don't try to label the group anything but the hard rockers that they are. The Donnas are scattered, smothered and covered in rock, just like the groups -- KISS, AC/DC and Motley Crue -- they listen to frequently on tour.

The band -- comprised of Robertson, drummer Torry Catellano (Donna C.), vocalist Brett Anderson (Donna A.) and bassist Maya Ford (Donna F.) -- have come a long way since their first incarnation as the Electrocutes, a speed-metal act that the girls entertained friends and terrorized their parents with at 15.

Now the band is all grown up, with a new album, The Donnas Turn 21. And with the new album, they do a lot more than their teenaged bubble-gum counterparts -- they actually write their own songs.

Much of their material, in songs such as the intriguingly titled "40 Boys in 40 Nights" and "Are You Gonna Move It For Me," comes from their experiences on tour -- the latest of which just started a few weeks ago, Robertson said.

"After we started touring a lot, we started writing more about what it is like to be on the road or meeting different people across the country and the fans," she said. "We don't actually write songs on tour, which a lot of other bands do."

Instead, the band usually waits until it gets back home and pools together all the members' ideas, she said.

Past tours have found the Donnas living in hotel rooms while traveling, but their home away from home this time around is a big bad tour bus stocked with junk food. They share the bus with the tour's opening band, and their good friends, Bratmobile.

"For the first time ever, we have a satellite on the bus, so to unwind we get to watch TV," Robertson said. "We feel really, really spoiled."

Touring also allows the Donnas to meet different kinds of people at each stop, from southern California to Chapel Hill. Regardless of the locale, Robertson said there is always a similar mix of fans each night bouncing their heads and moshing to the music.

"There's always people who want to throw beer bottles, and there's always sweet people," she said. "People we want to kill and people we want to hang out with."

Once the Donnas leave Chapel Hill, it's only a few shows until their tour lands the band in Europe. They have been there twice, but Robertson said the experience is always new, even though the food sometimes sucks.

"It's sort of like a cycle," she said. "Every night you say that you wish you weren't playing tomorrow, but by the time you wake up the next day, you feel fine and you're ready to do it all again."

But what does happen behind the scenes, after the last licks have been played and the fans have gone home? The Donnas get gossipy, something that Robertson said the group does a lot to relieve some of that girl-group tension.

"We usually party with each other and hang out after the show," she said. "We talk about what happened, like if someone was messed up and throwing stuff, we'd be talking shit about them, or if something is really cool or there's this really cool person, we'd be talking about that."

Note taken -- don't throw beer bottles at the Donnas. They don't enjoy it. But, do they enjoy knockin' back a few now that each of the girls is old enough to mix some vodka with her O.J.?

"There's so many ways to get around being under 21, so I do think it's pretty overrated," Robertson said. "Once you hit that, there's not much to look forward to, so you might as well not look forward to it."

On the other hand, touring, unlike turning 21, is something that will never grow old for the band. Robertson said being on the road has been a big part of her life thus far, and future albums and tours will only add to adventures that have a chance of becoming an eventual Donnas tune.

If not, the Donnas still have the Waffle House.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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