Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Rock's power puff girls



"People probably think we're really negative, because we complain a lot," suspects Donna C., on the phone from Portland, Ore. "But we just like to complain. It's fun for us."

Not that The Donnas have much to quibble about these days. The group's latest (and third) release, "Get Skintight," aroused rave reviews from Details and Rolling Stone. With pouty glam shots of rocker-girls-made-good holding together the most irresistible packaging since Malcolm McLaren launched his Sex Pistols, The Donnas are well on their way to becoming a pop phenomenon.

But it wasn't always that way. The Donnas -- Donna C. (drums, Capricorn), Donna R. (guitars, Virgo), Donna F. (bass, Capricorn), and Donna A. (vocals, Gemini) -- began playing in 1994 for their Palo Alto, Calif., school's talent show. They were called Raggedy Anne, a riot-grrrl cover band, and they were 14 years old. Soon, they switched to The Electrocutes, playing hard-punk originals and earning their chops. In 1995, they became The Donnas with the help of songwriter Darin Raffaelli -- once accused of being the group's own McLaren. Since then it's been their hard work (touring, recording, growing up) that's taken them so far.

"When you're driving in the car all day, you're like, Oh, this is work," says Donna C. "But then, like, when we play a show, it doesn't feel like work at all."

Clearly, something is working for The Donnas. The girls took on the role of prom band in this year's dark comedy Jawbreaker, and they cover the KISS classic "Strutter" in "Detroit Rock City" (opening Aug. 13) -- a coup for the self-admitted KISS fanatics.

The reason for the fuss is apparent upon hearing "Get Skintight," a heavy-metal neck-wringing that doesn't quit until the paneling falls off the wall and someone's banging on the door.

"Oh no, not again/ caught hotboxin' with my friends," sings Donna S. on "Hotboxin'." "Turn around, what do I see?/ the police officer next to me." Similar teen tricks turn up elsewhere, as the titles suggest ("Get Outta My Room," "Hook It Up," "Party Action" ), the songs executed without a trace of irony ... or reverence.

"It's kind of annoying sometimes when people are like, 'So I know what your influences are ... it's the Runaways, it's The Ramones'," says Donna C. "And we're like, 'No, really it's more like Poison and KISS,' and then they think we're kind of like joking."

Are they?

"No," she says, laughing.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.