It had already been a long evolution for Palo Alto teen punks the Donnas. In eight years, they’d gone from junior high school metallicists as the Electrocutes to Ramones-worshippers, then Runaways avatars as the Donnas. The metalinfluences gradually surfaced more and more, until The Donnas Turn 21 was a full-fledged hard-rock crusher, right down to guitarist Allison Robertson’s post-Ace Frehley fretwork and a faithful Judas Priest cover (“Living After Midnight”). Except they composed 13 male-objectifying anthems for the album, in a clever feminist reversal of metal misogyny. Cringe when you hear dumb come-ons such as “Are You Gonna Move It For Me?” or “Do You Wanna Hit It?” Imagine how your mom must have felt, hearing “Plaster Caster” or “We’re An American Band” way back when. Suck it up, dude.
(Maya still lives in Palo Alto; I met her when she was 15. She was always the most inscrutable of The Donnas; then I learned that, like myself, she was Jewish and that explained a lot of the weirdness. She sent me this link, from Alternative Press. It also lauds groups like Fugazi, Toilet Boys and Alkaline Trio, that jumped from Asian Man. Maya is mostly retired from music to focus on finishing her art school credential, yet when I asked her to stash a guitar to keep my wife from finding out that I spent good money on something, Maya said she wanted to keep it. So who knows. She’s an American band, dudes and dudettes. It was Kid Andersen’s guitar, but I bought it for Laura Chavez, who I met at Foothill; if i was an early fan of Alison, Maya or Laura, I admit I didn’t join the Molly Tuttle bandwagon until summer, 2019 [update: Gretchen Menn; today, April ‘22, I read something about a Palo Altan female composer winning a Guggenheim).
(I also bought an album about Kim Fowley yesterday up in the City, at Tunnel Records near the ocean. Not sure why. The Donnas’ “Kim Fowley” were named Darren and Jon. Joe Paganelli and I offered to manage them but they said they were too punk to be managed. They said they prefer “she-nanigans” — get it? [update: never listened to the Kim Fowley tribute LP but coinkydinky I’m wearing a Tunnel Records t-shirt as I write this].