Listen: 'Don't Break Me Down'
Listen: 'Friends Like Mine'
Though only in their mid-20s, the Donnas have been playing together for a decade. After the four met at Palo Alto High School and began playing together, they would endure ridicule and tirades about how girls can't rock... not to mention the bittersweet experience of having their moms show up incognito at their live shows.
The Donnas met while in high school, at first singing about topics such as homework and the dentist.
Since then, the four have traded their independent label for Atlantic Records, which is releasing their new album Gold Medal. They've also stopped sharing one first name, which they had borrowed anyway: The real roster is singer Brett Anderson, bassist Maya Ford, guitarist Allison Robertson and drummer Torry Castellano.
The band attributes part of its success to the fact that they always played for themselves first, and didn't set out to please an industry. They weren't even particularly interested in honing a sound, at first: The Donnas played different-sounding music under an alter ego called the Electrocutes before ditching the latter. "The sad part was that the Donnas were a total joke to us, and the Electrocutes were our 'real' band," says one. Eventually, the group became an amalgam of the two sensibilities, and the "joke" Donnas learned to slow down and write more accessible songs.
Despite their success, the band members say they wouldn't dream of separating to strike out on their own individually. "Ever since we were kids it felt like it was us against everybody else," says one. The band joined NPR's Scott Simon to discuss the band's evolution and to play some songs.