Hot Donnas are one of New Zealand's most exciting acts today.
Fusing the anthemic indie rock of bands like Catfish and the Bottlemen with surfy undertones and just a hint of grunge for good measure, the Dunedin four-piece have slogged it out around New Zealand’s live circuit for years to build their fervent fanbase, snagging support slots with Lime Cordiale and Drunk Mums and honing their songwriting talents along the way. If you’re a fan of Violent Soho, Hockey Dad, Skeggs or The Beths, it’s fair to say that you’re going to lap these guys up.
After releasing two full-length efforts with 2017’s Greek Yogurt and 2018’s Dirty Paradise, the Kiwi four-piece have now unleashed Adventures of E-WAN: a new EP that sees Hot Donnas at their very best. Clocking in at 22 minutes, it’s an incredibly digestible and addictive offering from the band, with the project’s clean production, heavy riffs and concise songwriting hinting at huge things to come from the group.
To find out more about the band and get the low-down on their new EP, we linked up with Hot Donnas for a track-by-track rundown of Adventures of E-WAN.
“This tune was written in my head during a heavy night on the piss. It started with a thought pattern that was triggered by some expressed displeasure with my choices that night. It was made obvious to me that other people in the house wanted two different things from me, but so opposed to each other that I couldn’t find a middle ground to exist in.
“I was left feeling like I have two brains that one body that simply can’t seem to agree on anything, and possibly the only option for me is to wait for sleep because that’s the only way the madness will end. My frustration with this scenario led to the aggressive nature of the track, and the grungy riff allowed this feeling of imbalance to exist in a song. Somehow this satisfied my chakras for the month…”
“We wrote this song just after our 2nd album Dirty Paradise during 2018 and it was the benchmark of how we wanted the new album to sound. We had experimented a lot more with the use of pedals which affected the direction we were heading with our new sound which was a more matured and developed sound than our last album.
“Since it was the first we were pushing ourselves to create something quite complex as we played around with using different time signatures. The song lyrically is about the connection between man and musical tools. ‘Tube Socks’ is a reference to the pedals at my feet which our tone is almost dependent on, and subsequently, ‘I’m not hoping to break this chain’.”
“After two albums and three years as a band, we have finally started to settle on a “Hot Donnas sound” We believe that ‘No Money’ is the Hot Donnas sound we have been searching for. The upbeat drums and the melodic yet dirty guitars is our aim.
“‘No Money’ started as a three chord song before we added melodic intervals to flesh out the progression. It fleshed out to be one of our most exciting tracks, even though the entire song was written in about 20 minutes. The reason for this being that Jake wrote the words/melody at his job which was literally, sitting in his car, in a hi vis for 12 hours at a time. Boredom can produce gold sometimes!”
“This track is quite obviously one that has more of a surf-rock type vibe to it – the genre that is more suited to our first album Greek Yogurt. The popular song by the Australian band Skeggs, ‘LSD’, had a pretty heavy influence on the intro and verse riff you hear, as well as the 4/4 drum beat that bounces away on the toms. It definitely has a ‘beer in the sun on a hot summer’s day’ sort of sound to it.
“We really wanted to have a grunge type tone that the rhythm guitar plays behind the lead guitars high notes to keep grit and energy into the track. This energy is definitely lifted in the chorus and bridge sections as the drums begin to crash the cymbals.
“Heading to the studio, our expectations for this track weren’t quite up there with the rest of the tracks, but we were still keen as to add it to the list. Further down the track in the mixing stages we really found a love for this song. The rotary emulator that had been added to the lead guitar parts in the verse gave the song a new and experimental vibe – one that we enjoyed the sound of.
“The song describes the relationship between a young person struggling with inflated expectations and naturally follows a melodic storyline. This song definitely represents a more sensitive vibe that we really like to include in our releases, even though our sound is naturally getting heavier.”
“The anthem. This is a song which was written by Mitch on the guitar, where he brought his idea to us at a jam session. It very quickly came together as our hype grew, the tone we were achieving with a fat collection of Major 9th chords had us all wearing our stank faces.
“It was then paired with the opening riff and the bridge, which blended together to make what we all agree is one of our finest compositions to date. The setting the lyrics try to paint describes the classic boozy scene that we live on a by weekly basis.
“This track may be one of our finer pieces, so it would only be fitting to write about our filthy habits and questionable behaviour. Apparently that’s Rock’n’Roll.”
“This is the last track that we wrote for the EP, and our first thoughts were to keep it as short and punchy as we could. Jacob came up with the intro and verse chugs quite a while before we ended up actually constructing the song together.
“We did originally have second thoughts on using it for the EP, but once we added the post chorus breaks with the amps cranked up to 11 we began to put together a solid structure and bang it out. Though we like to keep things loud, we all felt that having a switch from quiet to loud added heaps of variety to both the track and the EP as a whole.
“In terms of the lyrical content, ‘Beach’ describes a very interesting night that us boys embarked on, that we quite frankly have no memory of – a song for the dancing shoes and having a damn good time.”
Adventures of E-WAN, the new EP from Hot Donnas, is out now.