The Donnas motor by metro to celebrate 16 sweet years

It's been 16 years of stealing boyfriends, skintight jeans and fast guitars, but the women behind this fierce California foursome aren't the same garage queens they once were.


The Donnas " collectively, vocalist Brett Anderson, guitarist Allison Robertson, bassist Maya Ford and drummer Torry Castellano " released "The Donnas Greatest Hits: Volume 16," on July 7. The album is a mix of unreleased B-sides, live tracks, rarities and re-recorded favorites the band has accrued over the years. But like a typical 16-year-old, the group is full of biting wit, bratty sass and a thinly veiled sarcasm Robertson said is apparent from the album's title alone.

"It's kind of not exactly a normal greatest hits, having songs we wanted to re-work or get a second chance," she said. "(We) named it that almost like a joke."

Joking aside, the disc marks the eighth full-length release for the band and makes clear the progression the musicians have made since they came together in junior high school. 

Robertson said the new album was made for all of The Donnas' fans, whether it's someone who hasn't listened for 15 years or those who own every release.

"Fans already have our albums," she said. "They don't need another crappy collection of things people could buy on iTunes."

The 16-song album contains two new songs: "Get Off" and "Perfect Stranger," both 1980s-styled hair-metal throwbacks, which Robertson describes as "rambunctious." With lyrics like those in "Get Off" " "Roses at my door / I'm gonna' watch them die / Sweat all over the sheets / Love to see you cry" " The Donnas have clearly been around a few blocks.

Although The Donnas have always been harmlessly rebellious, with songs about boys in skintight jeans, hotboxin' and skipping school, the members have worked to drive forward and cover new territory.

"I think that it's really funny for people to think that a band should stay the same over the span of 16 years," Robertson said. "We're the ones who have to feel good about what we're putting out."

The act has evolved from garage-y punk princesses to guitar-heavy rock goddesses up to challenge any act, be it male, female or mixed. Switching sounds along the way, the group has swapped names about as many times as Puff Daddy.

As the only all-girl band in Palo Alto, Calif., Robertson said The Donnas had to face down critics and suffer senseless teasing, forcing the members to audition a series of names.

"The first name was Screen because nobody could make fun of that. It doesn't mean anything and everyone was making fun of it because it was so stupid," she said.

The girls then changed their names to Ragady Anne, which Robertson said didn't win thanks to the connection with girls and "the rag." By the end of high school, The Electrocutes eventually begat the act's current moniker, which it first started using for a harder-edged side project. At some of those early shows, the band would gig as The Donnas, adopting Ramones-inspired surnames.

The Donnas eventually edged out The Electrocutes, and by 1999, Robertson said the band was featured in two movies. The group was onscreen and on the soundtrack of "Drive Me Crazy," a teenage romantic comedy led by Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier, and as the prom band in "Jawbreaker," a dark comedy starring Rose McGowan, released later that year.

"It was awesome. We were literally just 19 and got asked to do that," Robertson said. "We thought it was funny and thought, 'Why does everyone want us to be the prom band?'"

As the years went by and the girls grew up, The Donnas have met many musical opportunities, such as playing on "Saturday Night Live" and starting its own record label to release its 2007 album, "Bitchin'." Purple Feather Records is now the ladies' home label, which Robertson said gives the quartet complete control over the music and their money.

"We just have it so we have somewhere to put our own music out," she said. "Right now, it's just too much drama with record labels."

Musical achievements and monetary accomplishments aside, Robertson said The Donnas remain a group of close friends at the end of the day. Their favorite memories of the last 16 years don't necessarily include the best performances or meeting famous celebrities, but instead time spent together on tour.

"When your luggage gets lost, ride doesn't get there at the airport, that's when you make up a lot of funny jokes," she said. "(We've) had a lot of fun like that."

The Donnas with The Romantic Disaster and Glister perform at 7 p.m. Friday at Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S. Eastern.  "Jamie Birdwell

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