Punk Rock Grrls

R: How important was the community in which you grew up [Olympia] to Sleater-Kinney's success?

CB: I'm really glad you asked that, 'cause everyone tries to take us out of context from where we're from. The reason Corin and I even started playing music has so much to do with artists and musicians and friends we have here that inspired us. You can't separate us from the fact that we come from an amazing community of people. We wouldn't exist without it.

Rock 'n' Roll High School
Between the Riverdales, the Queers, Boris the Sprinkler and the Mr. T Experience, there are enough Ramones tribute bands out there to last 'til the Hale-Bopp Comet comes by again. Not that said bands aren't talented, but if the most they accomplish is sounding just like the Ramones, what's the point? How do you put a new spin on something as replicated as the forerunners of American punk rock? Enter the Donna's, four 17-year-old girls from South City, California; and, yeah, they're all named Donna.

The Donna's self-titled debut LP is in a class of its own. The songs are still about high school, love, partying and rock 'n' roll, but these girls are actually teenagers (how old are Joe Queer and Ben Weasel now? 32?). Besides that, the Donna's are damn good musicians for 17-year-olds--they steal simple three-chord melodies as well as anybody. These girls are the true heirs of sneering, black-leather-bubblegum punk. I just hope they don't sign on with Lollapalooza when they're 40. (Super*Teem Records, P.O. Box 63, South City, CA 94083)

Mad at Who?
Tempe's Mad At 'Em, winners of the '97 New Times Music Awards punk category, just released its first seven-inch on Aviator Records. This three-girl, one-boy (he drums) pop-punk outfit throws down two songs, "Stalker" and "Zovirax." "Stalker" is a hyperactive thriller narrated by wailing vocals, "I think I really love you/I'm gonna have to/Have to, have to cut you"; "Zovirax," a plea for pain relief, carries the same blistering energy. The record suffers from the same low production values as most local vinyl, but it's a worthy documentation of the Valley's best grrl band. (Aviator Records, P.O. Box 40865, Mesa, AZ 85274-0865)

--Brendan Kelley

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