And 13 straight months of touring to promote Spend the Night took its toll. Drummer Torry Castellano was suffering tendonitis in her hand, and Anderson's voice was ragged. While the four best friends were as tight as ever, the emotional stress of the road had stiffened the band's party-all-night swagger. "For so long, our image had got in the way of our music," admits Anderson. She was listening to a lot of classic rock: Tom Petty, the Eagles -- songwriters more concerned with ideas than with posturing. The Donnas dropped their kitschy one-name monikers (Donna A., Donna C., etc.) and began carving their own identities.
The new record, Gold Medal, packs the same familiar three-chord metal punch of its predecessors, but its maturity and top-notch musicianship are refreshing. Lyrically, it's a 180. Apparently making out with "40 Boys in 40 Nights" has its consequences, and on the new album, the Donnas take every opportunity to dish out blame (even to themselves). Gold Medal's darker material suits the band well. The Donnas look poised to attract a larger female fan base in answer to the testosteroned hordes they currently command.
With a new direction firmly mapped and bigger venues to play, Anderson confesses to a soft spot for a traditional Houston stop: Fitzgerald's. "We're gonna miss that place," she says, "but not the backstage. It's haunted."