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THE DONNAS

Boys Boys Boys

(Donna C Interview - Taken From Black Velvet 29 - Aug 2001)

By Shari Black Velvet

It's May 17th and THE DONNAS are in Holland. They've done at least a month already on the European tour, in promotion of latest album 'Turn 21'. Torry Castellano, otherwise known as Donna C, picks up the phone and tells Black Velvet how it's been going.

 

 

 

 

 
 

"It's been really good and we've had some really great shows. We got to go to some countries we've never been to before like Sweden and the shows were totally wild there so it was really cool. When we first started out touring in America there would be a lot of older guys. Every tour it seemed like we got more younger girls or teenage girls. Then we got more teenage guys or guys our age. So now we have a pretty diverse crowd in America. I feel like Europe is like that too, but every tour more and more different ages of people come. But I think it's just a little bit behind because we've toured more in the United States. So we don't have as many teenage girls here. Actually there's a lot of teenage guys here… or guys our age… young guys. We're just working on getting some more girls. We like a diverse crowd."
She says that when visiting Europe different countries give off different vibes.
"I feel like in some countries they don't move as much as in other ones. I feel like countries like Sweden are really into music and rock n' roll and moving and getting really excited that the shows are in their country. I think Spain and Italy do that too. Germany gets pretty wild too."
She ponders "I think a lot of them get pretty wild but some of them, we'll play a show… like Austria… I could tell they liked us but they just weren't really moving."
Torry emphasises the word 'moving'.
"I think it's just 'cause they don't do it so much there. We played in Copenhagen. I could tell they really liked us but… we played at Kristiana. It's this crazy gated hippy commune. They have this road in it. It's a huge place and 7000 people live there or something. They have this road where all they sell is pot and hash and mushrooms and everyone was totally so slow because they were really stoned."
She laughs, "So some places are not as inhibited as others, I guess I'd say."
Talking about inhibitions - or lack of them, the four girls, Donna C (Torry), Donna A (Brett), Donna R (Allison) and Donna F (Maya) have been acquainted by a few rather… um… 'friendly' fans.
"Sometimes they get a little too excited or a little too drunk and that combination is really bad. They just get really close and put their hand on your lower back which all of us totally hate. If it's someone you know and you like them, that's cool but if it's some creepy person putting their hand on your lower back you're like "NO!" "Sometimes they're like "You have to come out and party with us and drink and we're like "Oh my God, we have to go home and go to sleep"."
The girls are definitely not anti-partying, but they like to keep things in moderation.
"We get champagne on the rider every night so usually we'll have a little of that and that's really fun. We like to have drinks. The only problem with this tour is that the drives have been really long… except for now that we're in the Netherlands - the drives are not really that long. Sometimes they're eight hours or something and we'll go to bed at 3 o'clock and get up at eight so you don't want to get too drunk or stay out too late. Sometimes we wake up at 7 o'clock in the morning and you're like 'Oh my God'. It doesn't work out. Also, our tour in America I think we partied a little bit more, just because we had a bus, so we could sleep in the whole time, but this tour we've had a van so it's a little different."
"I feel like a lot of bands are like 'Oh, you should party more' but what they don't understand is that we went on a 6 week tour of America and then we came right here and we're doing a 6 week tour of Europe. We've already done more than a month here so we're almost done. But it's a lot of time to every night be playing a show. You know what I mean? We get really tired a lot.
"And usually if we do party, we just like to party with each other. We don't meet a lot of strangers, or if fans want to come backstage we're like "I don't know you". Not to be mean, but do you know what I mean? It's funny when they're all crazy. Most of them are really nice and we like to talk with them. But some of them get too crazy."

The fans seem to like the new album. It's typical Donnas - if there is such a thing - as well as being a step on… an improvement… from the last album. Torry is quite relieved that it has gone down well with everyone.
"With every record I get a little nervous, even if I love it. I'm like 'Oh my God, I hope everyone likes it' but it's been really great and exciting. People have been singing along at the shows. It's really cool to see that. With each record we don't want to go crazy and make a weird techno record or a death metal record. I don't think we'll ever change our style that much or that drastically. But with each one we want to make it better; better production, better playing, better songs. So I'm really happy with it and I think the fans and the critics have liked it too so that's cool."
"Usually when we write the songs, we'll each write the parts then we'll come together and we'll play it once and if it doesn't come out within three times of playing it we'll usually scrap it because we've been playing together for so long that we know what works and what doesn't and definitely our favourite thing is playing live and I don't think we'd ever make songs that had so many different things that if we played them live they would sound empty or something. We definitely have playing live in mind when we write it and record it. We want to make it better than live; the best it can be. But we don't want it to be so crazy that when we play it live in front of people they're 'oh God, that doesn't sound like the record. You know what I mean?"
The girls do try to take the fans into consideration when writing songs, but they also write for themselves.
"Obviously I don't think we would write songs we think the fans would like if we didn't like them, but I think we think 'do you think the fans will like it?' So I think it's both. I think we definitely want people to like what we're putting out, especially the hardcore fans who are really into it and have all our stuff."

The band released the single '40 Boys In 40 Nights' on 23rd April in the UK. With boys being the subject matter for quite few songs it seemed like a great excuse to talk about the opposite sex for a while…
Torry, when did you have your first boyfriend? How old were you?
"I liked a boy in kindergarten. I wouldn't say that was a boyfriend. My first real, real boyfriend or just a boyfriend? I'd have to say 4th grade. I was about nine."
Have you ever had a crush on a well known boy or man?
"Like, in a band, or an actor? Oh, totally! There are so many! I had a huge crush on Michael J. Fox when I was really young. River Phoenix, I really loved him. But he's dead now, it's really sad. Let me see… In bands? Lots of guys! Maybe some of the guys in Blur are pretty cute."
Have you ever had your heartbroken by any guys?
"Oh, totally! There was this one guy that I went out with in high school and he was in a band too. It was right when we started high school - freshman year of high school. He was older, he was a junior, two years older than us. I really liked him and we went out and I was all excited. He was really nice to me but a lot of the guys - all of them actually - gave us a lot of shit for being in a band. Being girls in a band and stuff. And then we broke up… he broke up with me and I was really sad. He started writing these notes that said 'Go home and play with your dolls, you can't play. Girls can't play' and all this stuff. It was really sad because I liked him. It was depressing. We also had a lot of crushes on the guys that were in the bands that would make fun of us. Kinda really sad".
What irritates you most about boys?
"Erm… That's a really hard question, there are so many things!" she laughs. "Just the fact that they can be really aloof and then really clingy and never at the right times, it seems like. And how they can be all arrogant. We were touring with a band and one of the guys was being rude. You can get mad at them but they're just like 'Oh you're just a girl and that's why you're getting mad'. That sucks. And if they don't take care of themselves." She laughs again.
What do you look for in a prospective boyfriend?
"I don't know if I'd really say I have a type. Well, I like dark haired guys. They have to be cute. They have to be funny and have a sense of humour and want to have fun. I don’t really like boys who are really depressed all the time. It’s sad, you know what I mean? You’re trying to have a good time with a guy and they’re just depressed! Some of us have had boyfriends that seemed cool about us going on tour, because we tour a lot, but then they ended up not being cool about it. I understand they can get jealous but boys can go overboard. And just nice.”
What’s the most romantic thing a boy has ever done for you?
“That’s funny! I don’t know! Maybe giving me flowers, taking me out to dinner, somewhere you really like to eat. It’s not that wild, you know what I mean?”
If you see a boy you like, how do you go about getting him? Do you make the first move or do you wait for him?
“I usually get really shy but then I can’t help myself so I try to talk to them anyway. But then I’m always afraid that I’m talking too much. I’ll kind of pull back sometimes. I don’t think I’d make the first move by going up to a boy and just kissing him or something. Well, maybe! Just joking! Probably just try and talk to him, but if they don’t seem interested I’m not going to just keep on.”
If you met a boy and really liked him, and he liked you, but then you found out that he hated your music and the band, what would you do?
“Oh, that wouldn’t work out. No. My band doesn’t have to be his favourite band in the whole wide world, but if he didn’t like the band and he didn’t like the music, because the band is such a big part of our lives and we’re always touring all the time, playing all the time, we’re always doing something like writing a record or recording a record, it would be too big of a part to have a conflict about. If they didn’t like the band I think it would show a lot, like when I would go on tour and I’d be like ‘Oh we had a good show’ or ‘we had a bad show’ and just talk about it, I don’t think they’d be that interested, so it wouldn’t really work out. They have to be supportive. That’s a good quality”, she says referring back to the question about what she’d look for in a guy.

Well, I think we exhausted the topic of boys – hey, they get kinda boring after a while, don’t they?! Haha, just kidding, guys!

So anyway… returning to the music and band-life, Torry tells us a little about the ins and outs of being in a rock band and the achievement of fame and success that can go with it.
“With touring, playing live is really great and having people really love the band is really great and buying the records is great, but some of the stuff… When I think about touring… I had no idea what it was like when I would go and see a band play. Like before, all the behind the scenes stuff. I had no idea that you had to drive all day and you didn’t get to eat all the time and you didn’t get to do your laundry. You don’t really think that when you’re young and go to a concert and you see your favourite band. So there are things that are hard about it that I didn’t really know about. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was harder than I imagined. And we’re still working on it, know what I mean?
“I think some of the things are so great. When I think about when we first started and what I wanted to do. My big dream for the band was playing this club called Gilman in Berkeley, CA; this really disgusting punk rock club that a lot of bands have played. I wanted us to open for Bikini Kill. That was my big dream. But now that we’ve done so many crazy things that are just so much bigger and better. Some of the stuff is amazing, like getting to meet people you’ve always admired. It’s kind of overwhelming. But some of the things I just didn’t know, like things you had to do; the other stuff like waiting around. I just didn’t know about it.”
Those things don’t put the girls off though. Oh no… Donna C, A, R and F are ready to work even harder and make it even bigger.
“I think with each record I’m the proudest of that record. And there are certain shows… When we started the tour for this record in America we played a show at the Fillmore in San Francisco. We sold it out. You get really excited about that because you’ve seen so many bands there. When we got to play at the Warfields, which is this other club in San Francisco. Every time we get to play a club where I would go to see shows every weekend as a kid it would be like this crazy thing. If you sold it out it would be ‘Oh My God’. And just being able to play shows at big places and have people come. Like when we did the Reading festival I felt so funny about that. It’s like really crazy.
“I hope this goes as far as it can. Playing live is our favourite thing to do. The bigger the shows, the more people that come, the more excited they are, the more fun it is. So if we could play arenas and pack them it’d be great. I’d be totally into that. I don’t think we’re one of those bands that only want to get so big.”

Final question: What does the Donnas mean to you?
“Oh God, I think that’s just such a crazy question I don’t know if I could answer it.” Responds Torry. “Playing drums in the band has been the funnest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I love all the girls so much. We’ve been friends for so long. We had our eight year anniversary for the band in Stockholm a few days ago so it was all exciting. I got a little sentimental. I’ve known Allison since 4th grade and Maya since 5th grade… that’s nine and ten. I met Brett when I was twelve and we started then band when we were thirteen. It’s been such a big part of our lives. I don’t know. It’s too hard to explain I think.

One thing that’s not hard to explain is what a great rock band The Donnas truly are. Get ‘Turn 21’ on Lookout/Epitaph right now and see for yourself.

 

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