Vike Profile: All-girl punk rock band, The Donnas

Eric Bo-Han Yap, News Editor

What started as an amateur rock band from Palo Alto High School in 1993, The Donnas became an internationally recognized music group, achieving high levels of musical maturity throughout their careers without infringing upon their trademark sound and lyrics.

The Donnas consisted of guitarist Allison Robertson, vocalist Brett Anderson, percussionist Torry Castellano, and bassist Maya Ford. The group were regular performers of Ramones-styled punk rock music in local Palo Alto community centers when they first formed their band but gradually incorporated metal and classic rock sounds as they achieved commercial success in the early 2000’s according to manager Dave Whitman.

The Donnas pose for their senior pictures in Paly’s 1997 yearbook. The band’s cast consisted of  guitarist Allison Robertson (top-left), vocalist Brett Anderson (top-right), percussionist Torry Castellano (bottom-right), and bassist Maya Ford (bottom-left). Photo: Paly Journalism Archives

For The Donnas, success came early and fast. They went on their first international tour in Japan at age 16 and shortly after graduating, the group signed a deal with Lookout Records. As the group’s success continued to grow, they decided to transition to a major label company: Atlantic Records.

Every member of The Donnas decided to drop out of during their first year of college after signing with the company in 2002. The group released their eponymous debut album Spend the Nights, earning them their first charting record as well as selling over 450,000 units according to Nielsen SoundScan, an information and sales tracking system.

Although The Donnas still remain as a band, the group has not performed regularly since their last show in 2012. Members such as Torry Castellano and Brett Anderson have decided to return to college and pursue their degrees, according to Anderson in a 2017 interview.

According to Anderson in an interview with Stereogum, putting off the band has given them a lot more to explore other career paths.

“We had to put everything aside, we had to put school aside, our families for a lot of it,” Anderson said. “Now it’s just super nice that now when someone’s got something coming up, I can commit to being there, which is something I was never, ever able to do before.”