Teenage Wasteland

Good music from some bad girls, the Donnas

A sordid tale of wasted potential and whatnot, right? But then there are the records, still as live and rocking as ever. "Cherry Bomb" alone will keep the Runaways legend alive deep into this century. The point? Maybe the Donnas never would have happened without Raffaelli. So what? They did happen, and they're still happening: writing their own songs and putting them across perfectly. It seems as if that's what should matter.

Young lady let me see some ID
Didn't you see us on MTV?

-- the Donnas, "Hotboxin'"

The band's next move was to Lookout! Records, the Berkeley, Calif., label that helped revive the punk scene in the late 1980s and early '90s with bands like Operation Ivy, Screeching Weasel and Green Day. They recorded American Teenage Rock 'N' Roll Machine in one day; nobody really expected that the album would be the next great Lookout! album and play a major role in maintaining the label's quality and high profile after the Green Day windfall.

The Donnas: Four teenage California girls with attitudes as trashy as their chord progressions, singing songs like "Leather on Leather," "Gimme My Radio" and "You Make Me Hot"  --  it just makes so damn much sense.
Julie Ornellas
The Donnas: Four teenage California girls with attitudes as trashy as their chord progressions, singing songs like "Leather on Leather," "Gimme My Radio" and "You Make Me Hot" -- it just makes so damn much sense.

What's more, the four rock chicks became stars of a sort, popping up in big slick magazines like Spin and Details, getting some face time on MTV. They even hit the big screen, appropriately enough, as the prom band in the dark teen comedy Jawbreaker.

"The director, Darren Stein, just liked us and wanted us to do it," Anderson says. "It was pretty fun. It was just a one-day shoot. We were in our trailer, and you know how they have two sides? Well, on the other side was (actor) Carol Kane. We were listening to Alice Cooper and, like, jumping around. And she came around and complained!"

The Donnas also achieved another movie-related milestone of sorts: a cover of Kiss's "Strutter" for the Detroit Rock City soundtrack album. "We thought the song would be in the movie, but they wanted to use the originals," Anderson says.

Did they get to hang out with Kiss? "No, not really, but Gene Simmons came when we were shooting the video for "Strutter,'" Anderson says.

"But we got to see Kiss on Halloween at Dodger Stadium. We had 10th-row tickets. And we saw them the next day at the Detroit Rock City premiere. We were in the second row!" The enthusiasm is obvious and sincere. There's no doubting the rock & roll blood in Anderson's veins.

Get Skintight is another hot record, just as tough and funny as the earlier ones but with a little bit more pop-metal guitar power. The Donnas will be going into the studio in June, this time for three weeks, and will release that album early next year. What are they looking forward to?

Anderson thinks a minute: "Well, we're all gonna be 21!"

The Donnas play the Galaxy on Wednesday, March 29. The Smugglers and the Plus Ones open.

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