The Donnas

By Jim Ballew

Small talk: The Donnas refuse to give it up

“Hello?”

Hi, is this Torry?

“Yes.”

Hey, this is Jim Ballew from CityBeat magazine in San Diego.

“Oh, hey. How's it going?”

Good, how are you doing?

“OK.”

Cool. I'm supposed to interview you.

“Me?”

Yeah.

“Oh, OK.”

This opening dialogue set the tone for what could be the most awkward verbal exchange to ever grace Pac Bell phone lines. Strangely enough, it was definitely the highlight of my interview with Torry Castellano, aka Donna C, drummer for powerpuff super-rockers The Donnas.

The Donnas have been touring in support of their major-label debut, Spend The Night, since early October. Castellano, along with the other three Donnas-bassist Maya Ford, guitarist Allison Robertson and singer Brett Anderson (Donnas F, R and A, respectively)-have hit up every major corner in the U.S. during the past six weeks spreading their catchy blend of Gene Simmons-meets-Pat Benatar-meets-the backseat of a Dodge Dart.

From her tour bus in Orlando, Fla., Castellano seems to emit an emotional mélange of surprise and indifference; something not a lot of people can pull off. She answers my questions with one-word affirmatives and shrugs of silence in my vain attempt to extract any information whatsoever from the wily skinswoman. Eventually, I resign to simple, superficial questions about tactile experience.

So, Orlando, huh? You gonna hit up Disneyworld?

“We don't have time to visit Disneyworld, but that's OK. We got to go there on one of our other tours and it was really fun,” Castellano says.

Yeah, Epcot Center is a cool spot.

“Uh huh.”

Hmm. Interesting.

The Donnas are enjoying the kind of success that most bands would or have killed for. Not only has “Take It Off,” the first single from Spend the Night, cracked the Top 10 on TRL, but the band has also lent their names and faces to advertising campaigns for Levi Strauss and Budweiser. The Donnas have also enjoyed lots of exposure in music magazines way bigger and more self-appreciating than this one.

“Yeah... we don't really get to see all of [the magazines we're in] so it's kind of like-I mean, being on tour, it's not like you're home and you just get to, like, see everything, but it's really cool,” Castellano says. “It's exciting.”

Prior to being picked up by Atlantic Records, The Donnas had released four full-length albums and a handful of 7-inch records on indie-punk label, Lookout Records. Now these ¨uberheroines of the pop-rock set-who formed the band while still in junior high-have toured with Jimmy Eat World, Superdrag and The Strokes. And they're enjoying every bit of it.

“Touring has always been one of our major things that we do, you know?” Castellano says. “I think that it will be two months [on tour] by the time we get home, and I think that's the longest [tour we've done.]”

So, I always ask people all these questions and they always end up being the same. Are there messages that your band would like to get out that nobody seems to pick up on?

“I think some people pick up on everything.”

Ouch.

So now the Donnas will be making their way back across the country, only to end up at the newly-christened SOMA where I will be standing in the crowd wondering how this group of very talented 23-year-old musicians is going to handle their ever-growing success.

I will also be wondering if I will ever recover from being verbally bitch-slapped by the hottest drummer since Tara Reid in Josie and the Pussycats.

Only time will tell.