15 Years Ago: The Donnas Take Off With ‘Spend the Night’
Four albums along saw indie rock darlings saw the Donnas progress from Ramones infused punk rock to AC/DC inspired artists of the not-so-thinly-veiled double entendre, which they mastered on their major label debut, Spend the Night, released Oct. 22, 2002. Prior to the Atlantic Records debut though, there was a worry that it might steer the band down a different path, as a move like that has done to many artists. As it turns out, it was all part of the plan.
“We’ve always wanted to be the biggest band we could be,” drummer Torry Castellano said shortly after the record came out. “It’s not about being mainstream or indie; and being girls in a band, we hope to get more and more radio play, getting our videos played. We never really wanted to stay underground.”
Spend the Night accomplished that mission in spades; it remains the Donnas’ biggest seller at nearly half a million copies. Instantly catchy songs like “Who Invited You,” “All Messed Up” and “Too Bad About Your Girl” handed the masses the hardest rocking all-female outfit since the Runaways and as in-your-face as anyone this side of L7. And while there were some who criticized their overt sexual innuendos, which were about as subtle as cactus in a bouquet of roses – none more so than on the album’s most popular track, “Take It Off,” where frontwoman Brett Anderson commands the guy to stop wasting time and, well, take it off.
"It's a role-reversal song," Anderson said. "A lot of the bands we like, like AC/DC, were total womanizers. We never took offense to that because it's so funny. We thought it would be fun to do that as well."
Beyond the lyrics – and some of them were over-the-top hilarious like, “You're damaged goods so I don't even care / About the color of your underwear” (“Not the One”) – there was some no-frills rock and roll. The riffs chug along at a steady clip, whether razor-sharp or rumbling onward under Anderson’s confident and saucy delivery.
Perhaps most importantly, of the 13 tracks, each check in at less than three-and-a-half minutes save for one. Whether it’s the Cult sounding “I Don’t Care (So There)” or the one-night stand ode “Take Me to the Backseat,” the songs are all bite-sized pieces of ear candy that stink of fun at its most immediate. Maturity it wasn’t, despite being all grown up on the majors, and that’s what resonated with music fans.
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