Hot Donnas is out now!
Image: Riley Coughlin.
New Zealand four-piece Hot Donnas have just dropped their killer new self-titled EP. We caught up with the band to chat about the release, moving in together, playing louder and heavier and so much more!
Tell us a bit about your musical background and Hot Donnas’ origin story…
Well the band all started in a cold, damp flat located down in the deep south of New Zealand; Dunedin. In 2017 we were all studying at Otago University so all lived reasonably close to each other. George (drummer) and Mitch (lead guitarist) have been best mates since the ripe age of 12 - and had been jamming together since then. Gene (bassist) ended up studying the same course as Mitch in 2016 and that’s how they linked up. Jacob (rhythm guitar and vocals) ended up getting Georges contact deets through a mutual friend. It wasn’t until George's old man asked him if he’d be keen to chuck a cover band together to play at his good mates 50th - so that’s when he did some scouting and got all four of us in a room together jamming. And the rest is history..
Congratulations on the release of your latest EP, Hot Donnas. Walk us through the concepts and themes explored on the release…
Thanks! We all feel like this EP really encapsulates the ‘Hot Donnas’ sound; our final form if you would. Over the past 4 years it's not hard to hear our sound develop. If you compare our first album Greek Yogurt to our self titled EP, you’d almost think it's 2 different bands playing. The whole ‘surf rock’ and ‘indie rock’ sound was never really our thing to be honest. After the release of Greek Yogurt we naturally went heavier, louder, and harder. However, we still love having nice melodies and pretty chords chucked into the mix - we feel like it widens our audience so those who love to get sweaty at shows can also take a minute to sing along with Jacob belting into the microphone.
You all moved in together earlier this year. How did that influence your way of working on new music?
Oh man, it made a HUGE difference to previous years. Obviously when we were not all living together it made things slightly more difficult to coordinate practices and what not. Doesn’t take an Einstein to realise that when we’re all under the same roof, along with our jam space being upstairs, we’re gonna be jamming a whole lot more (sorry neighbours).
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording this collection of songs?
These songs all stemmed from our normal procedure of starting with a guitar riff and fleshing it out from there. Once we’ve got a few riffs that we like and have in mind, the glue that forms the tracks starts to come into play. It’s kinda hard to explain - the song writing process is a pretty relaxed one for us to be honest. The most exciting part was being able to travel up to Auckland and record at the legendary Roundhead Studios. Being able to record at Roundhead was an experience that we will never forget! Hot Donnas as a collective tend to be very relaxed and we try not to take things too seriously, so it was nice to break out of the comfort zone and get into a professional studio.
What did you learn whilst creating Greek Yoghurt and Dirty Paradise that you were able to implement when it came to working on Hot Donnas?
There’s one definitive thing that we learnt from our first two albums; that we love to play louder and heavier! Being a very live driven band, we are all big advocates for giving the crowd as much energy as possible, and in return we get energy back from them. Kind of like a game of table tennis.. Probably not the best explanation but you know what I mean..
You’ve shared a trippy visual for Fear Me. How involved are you with conceptualising the visuals and bringing them to life?
The idea behind Fear Me dives into the world of dreams - in particular what it's like to be in a dream state. The lyrics came about when (Jacob) was having these super intense dreams where he was plunged into the middle of some kinda weird sci-fi movie scripts. Some of the memories from these dreams were so vivid that writing about them was mostly just describing what I could remember, in a slightly generalised manner. We were lucky enough to work with Auckland based videographer Connor Pritchard, who's worked with heaps of artists across NZ (Six60, Melodownz, Muroki). Working with him helped us bring these ideas to life, as you can see in the music video for Fear Me.
How would you describe your sound to someone who is about to press play on Hot Donnas?
Hmmm that's a tough one… our sound is sorta like a mix of punk, rock, and metal infused into one. As said earlier, we do try to keep nice melodies and pretty chords chucked into the mix, as well as chugging away on hard hitting riffs and very loud drums.
Which song off the EP would you play to someone, who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan?
I’d say Fear Me would be our best bet; it’s got the best mix of riff and chord based guitar parts for sure! The bass and drums are hard hitting throughout the whole EP, so if you enjoy a hearty rhythm section then all of em!
What’s one line from Hot Donnas you find at times can be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
The chorus in Fear Me: “Your god doesn’t watch while I lead this parade, Just hides round the corner with an a list champagne, Cuz they fear me.” The melody that Jacob sings is way too catchy to not get stuck in your head! Plus it’s a pretty badass concept.
New Zealand has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite local acts you think everyone should be listening to?
One of our local favourites is Three Quarter Marathon for sure! They’ve got some awesome tracks, and their live set is energetic as fuck! There’s honestly too many to even mention in this list - but one of our favourite bands to see live is Alien Weaponry for sure - hard hitting metal!!
You’re known for your engaging live shows, will you be hitting the road in the near future? And what can audiences expect from a Hot Donnas live show?
Don’t have any plans of hitting the road as of yet - planning to enjoy our summer down in Otago and come at ya with some exciting news next year! A typical Hot Donnas show usually consists of us sinking a few cans before jumping on stage, Jacob breaking a guitar string, and Gene grooving so hard you can see the sweat draining from his nipples through his shirt.
Nirvana, Turnstile, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
In your face.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The Passion of the Christ.
What’s your favourite Christmas song?
Has to be Christmas Time by The Darkness.
A song you would love to cover on tour? Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend by Arctic Monkeys.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Glow On by Turnstile or Nothing by Meshuggah.
First concert you went to?
Green Day waaaay back in 2009 up in Auckland.
Best concert you have been to?
Tool at the beginning of 2020 up in Auckland.
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Probably when we played in front of 4000 students at a Toga Party back in 2018 - our biggest to date for sure!
Guilty music pleasure?
Bee Gees Greatest Hits.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Don’t be a dickhead.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
After listening to American Idiot by Green Day.
Hot Donnas is out now!