Since the last GAWTMY show at Yugong Yishan, there has been talk of the band breaking up with the departure of lead man Natan Doron and multi-talented Luke Tweedy despite the shocking announcement made at the time which clearly stated that the band would go on with a new voice: Aaron Bronson Rosa.
BeijingDaze caught up with Drummer Donna Renae to set the record straight:
1- What’s going on in your world? This is your chance to plug your stuff:
Well, since I’m a university teacher, I’m off for the National Day holiday and enjoying the downtime, returning emails, watching DVDs (TrueBlood, season two!) and tidying up my smaller-than-life apartment. I’m also the campus CCL (crazy cat lady) so I’ve been feeding and playing with our collection of adorable homeless moggies. But I’m not allowed to bring them inside and anyway, I’m allergic.
2- Talking about GAWTMY, how are the Album sales going? Where can people buy the record in Beijing?
Quickest place to get it would be online, provided you have an Amazon or iTunes account. But we do have some special-edition CDs that include the Zombie Girl video. Contact us if you want to buy one!
3- The last show for the video release was a memorable one for many reasons, chief one being that towards the end of the show, Natan announced that Luke and himself were leaving then introduced the Aaron as the voice of GAWTMY. What was going through your mind at the time?
Keep the drumbeat going while Natan talks…I wonder how this is going to sound in the recording?…damn, it’s hot back here…go, Aaron, go!
4- What plans are in store for GAWTMY in the immediate future?
I posted a couple of classified ads looking for new GAWTMY members and we’re scheduling auditions. The general plan right now is to carry on with Natan’s songs, maybe write some new ones of our own and cross other bridges as we come to them. We have Natan’s blessings for all of these things but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he and/or Luke come back during their break at university. Or if another version of GAWTMY pops up in London..or Tokyo…or New York. We’re not just a band, we’re a franchise. You want in?
5- what’s up with the red & black theme? will you keep that going forward?
That was Natan’s idea and we still like it. I’m so over bands that look like they slept in their clothes.
6- Word association. for each one of these words, write down the first thing that comes to your mind:
- Beijing: A surprise every day. Usually good.
- Shanghai: Big. But with different noises.
- Baijiu: Cough-cough.
- Drums: Switch ’em around so I can play ’em (I’m left-handed on drums)!
- Zombies: Republicans.
- Phil Collins: Crowded Streets–one of our songs off the album. I try to channel a little Genesis whenever I play it.
- Tommy Lee: Dirty. Eww.
7- Who are your musical references?
I’m really just a simple rock/classic rock drummer. I’m best at playing basic beats, a few fills here and there but nothing showy. I don’t want to steal the show. I can channel other drummers like Ginger Baker, Keith Moon and Mitch Mitchell when I play their songs but I don’t need to be out in front. I watch and feel what all the other musicians are doing and try to complement them. I’ll even try to complement the singer like John Densmore used to do with Jim Morrison in the Doors, but I’m not always that good.
8- Name 3 high points and 3 low points of your musical career:
High points: actually getting paid to play drums (best night: 1,000 RMB plus exepenses); jamming with Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd (and later joining him in a performance of Hendrix’s “Little Wing”); and releasing a CD (I have two under my belt now).
Low points: the hours and hours between sound check and showtime (no wonder rock stars abuse so many substances!); dropping sticks or smacking the rims during shows (which I seem to do a lot); and the lack of hot male groupies (most people incorrectly assume I’m lesbian).
9- Seems to me like Beijing’s music scene has exploded over the past few years with veterans and new comers and It’s getting harder to keep track of the bands/shows now; Any particular gems people should be aware of in your opinion? Some bands or singers that pretty darn good but can’t seem to get recognition?
The only CDs from a Beijing band I’ve actually purchased are from “Arrows Made of Desire.” Joewi is a phenom, getting better and better as he matures. He is truly inspired to write and play, unlike a lot of other front-men whose inspiration is drinking and looking cool. I think the rock scene in Beijing is rather wet behind the ears. There are still too many bands who think hammering their instruments and dropping the F-bomb is all that’s required.
10- What if: What if you just couldn’t be in Beijing doing the things you do… where do you think you’d be and what would you be doing?
I ask myself this question quite frequently but I’ve given up on an answer. I used to be a very driven and ambitious person. I spent five years in the US Navy and 15 years as a broadcast journalist, so I always had an agenda. I used each accomplishment as leverage for the next. I got very close to achieving my life’s goal but things changed and next thing I knew, I was teaching at Peking University (and now at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts). Who would’ve imagined? So if I couldn’t be here, I guess I’d simply be somewhere else. I don’t have goals far beyond meeting whatever challenges the day brings. Make friends, make music, make a tasty lunch. Oh, and maybe find homes for some of the cats around here. Know anyone who might be inerested?
Thanks to Donna for taking the time to set the record straight as well as offering to join the band.. I’m afraid I’ll pass because I wouldn’t want to cause them undue harm and get it to the point where people pay for them to get OFFstage