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Allison Robertson of The Donnas

Rock Grrl

Palo Alto's all-female rock 'n' roll foursome The Donnas return to the Bay Area August 19th for the Festival of the Golden Gate, a bill that will match them with an Asian rapper, a former Stray Cat, and a Venezuelan dance band, among others. Allison Robertson, the group's guitarist, spoke with SF Station during a phone interview from her apartment in Los Angeles, where The Donnas are preparing songs for their next album.

SF Station (SFS): How do The Donnas decide who does interviews?

Allison: We usually split it up, unless the media has a specific request. Everybody does good interviews, so we just divide it up equally and rotate. Itís pretty random.

When we do interviews together, which we like to do if thereís time, we usually talk a lot so itís almost better to do it separately. We get a lot of energy going, so itís definitely better with just one person if you are trying to get anything done.

SFS: Last time around you were on the Rock íní Roll Rollergirls Tour. Did you hang out with any of the derby girls?

Allison: We hung out with them and drank shots and stuff. We would have partied with them more, but we were exhausted because it was at the end of our touring cycle. They were just getting geared up because their show was about to launch on TV. We were kind of on different paths, but they were really cool. They were a lot like hanging out with girls in a rock band.

SFS: Girls throw themselves at male performers, do guys chase after The Donnas?

Allison: It kind of depends on where we want to take it. The ball is definitely in our court more. For us, the kind of guys that are easy that come around after the show are old enough to be our dad or theyíre weird and awkward and they donít know how to talk to us at all. Even the thought of talking to them is awkward, let alone trying to get something started because they are shy. For that kind of thing to go on, itís very rare.

Finding a boyfriend on tour is really weird too. There is hardly ever a guy in our age bracket that is willing to be romantic with a girl thatís in a rock band. Most guys kind of assume that weíre against romance. I feel like I meet a lot guys that say, ďYou like stuff like that?Ē I think they just think we are more tomboys, than we really are. Guys flirt in a way where itís kind of like pulling on the pigtails, which doesnít really work with us.

SFS: When The Donnas first started performing, what did your classmates think?

Allison: I think a lot of people ended up telling me later that we were cool. After our first show in eighth grade, years later people would come up to me and say it was cool. At the time we played, we had no idea anybody approved. We thought everybody hated us because the only people that talked to us about it said we were weird. A lot of the boys, especially. We heard all the time that our taste in music is weird, and we wore weird clothes, our music sucked and that girls canít play. Stuff like that.

SFS: Iím sure you have all the friends you could ever want now.

Allison: Yeah, right (laughs). I have friends, but I feel the more success you have as a female band, the more you have people criticizing -- weíre not political enough, weíre not feminist enough, we should have been doing this. Itís kind of hard. You have more responsibility so you have more people telling you that you didnít make the right choices.

Then, of course, in Los Angeles everybody is kind of looking to be friends with anybody that is doing better than they are career-wise. I feel like I have fewer friends because I donít trust as many people. In San Francisco and around there, Iíve known my friends since high school. But there are also people that youíve known since high school that you canít trust because maybe they are jealous.

SFS: It seems like the drama never stops.

Allison: Itís a lot of hard work and instead of taking the easy way weíve taken the difficult way or maybe the way that isnít the way to make the most money. People know our names, but we are not necessarily in that spot where we are buying mansions. We all have crappy cars, but we have to watch how we make our choices because people want us to be poppy and go for the money.

The Donnas perform Aug. 19 at Festival of the Golden Gate, a one day ticket costs $35 and a two-day pass is $75.