The Bitchin’s Back

Posted August 5, 2010 in Music

It’s a bit jarring when Brett Anderson, who just barely hit her 30s, casually drops the fact that she’s been in a band for 17 years in conversation. Anderson, lead vocalist for all-girl rockers The Donnas, has been playing since eighth grade alongside some of her best friends, including guitarist Allison Robertson, bassist Maya Ford and, up until recently, drummer Torry Castellano.

The four-piece had been enjoying that elusive unchanged lineup since 1993, but after a shoulder injury befell Castellano, followed by all of the subsequent therapies and treatments that went with it, she finally made the announcement on July 9 that she would be stepping away from the kit for good.

“That’s been really hard, but [Torry’s] got a pretty spectacular Plan B,” says Anderson of the ex-skinswoman, who will begin attending Stanford University in the fall. “I’m gonna totally admit that I’m just living vicariously through her, because we’ve always kind of liked school. We were always kind of into that, so in a weird way, it’s cool to have her living out that sort of option.”


This isn’t to say that The Donnas have lost any sort of momentum with the departure of their longtime drummer, though. Last summer, when Castellano was taking some time off to let her shoulder heal, The Donnas recruited another old friend, Amy Cesari of The Demonics, to fill in on their tour with Blondie and Pat Benatar.


“It just seemed like a natural thing to work with someone we know instead of calling some stranger out of the ether,” says Anderson when asked about the decision to bring Cesari into the fold. “We have also known [Amy] since we were very young, so it’s still a very familiar kind of intimate vibe, which is cool for us. She and Torry have similar styles but slight differences. So yeah, she brings a little of her own flavor to it. But still, I feel like the original spirit is still there.”


Now, with Castellano’s retirement, Cesari will continue to play with The Donnas on a brand-new studio album, their first since 2007’s Bitchin’. Bitchin’ also marked the debut of the band’s very own label, Purple Feather Records. This was an event that Anderson says took a load of pressure off the band.


“Record labels are going through so much right now, and it’s always sad, like they’re in a mourning phase. I felt like this sort of dark weight growing and looming when [we’d] go to New York and everyone’s freaking out about their jobs and getting laid off and downsized and switched around. It’s nice to not have that element. When we have our own label, there’s not that same kind of feeling, like the death of the industry is upon us.”


While the Palo Alto quartet doesn’t quite have a full-on tour on the horizon just yet, they do have a trio of SoCal dates this week, including Friday’s stop at The Glass House. When asked what fans might be able to expect from The Donnas, the always enthusiastic Anderson jumps right into video game analogies.


“We won’t be holding back. Our scores are high. You know when you’re playing video games and there’s like the bars that show your health level and your energy level? Ours are chock full to the top.”


The Donnas w/The Answering Machine, City Mouse at The Glass House, 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802;, Fri, Aug. 6. 7pm. $15. All ages.


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