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Aspiring to nothing more than a good old-fashioned rock & roll party, the Donnas won a cult following and considerable media attention in the late ’90s after scoring a record deal right out of high school.
Early on, they were invariably described as “the Ramones meet the Runaways,” with a definite emphasis on the former (they’d even adopted identical first names as a tribute). But their bratty high-school-delinquent image was clearly indebted to the latter, as their songs concerned themselves mostly with boys, booze, drugs, and hated classmates.
As the Donnas grew up and polished their technical abilities, their music evolved into a distinctly female take on cock-rock metal, drawing more from AC/DC, Kiss, and Mötley Crüe than from punk. Some critics praised their cheerfully crude adoption of male sexual bravado; others complained that the band’s music never transcended its vintage influences, and remained suspicious that their naughty-girl packaging was a bigger part of their appeal.
Nonetheless, the Donnas caught the attention of major label Atlantic, who signed them up in late 2001. Launched with a new wave of publicity, the Donnas’ label debut, Spend the Night, arrived in 2002 and became their first album to break into the Top 100 of the pop charts. It also earned them their biggest radio hit to date in the single “Take It Off,” whose video also got some MTV airplay.
In the summer of 2003, the Donnas played the main stage on the revived Lollapalooza tour. That September, after a full year and a half of touring and promoting, the girls took a break to rest up.