Described as "Talking Heads meets Rocky Horror" Donna and The Aspinauts formed began playing extensively throughout Melbourne in 2009.
Imagine delivery shifting gears between the likes of Laurie Anderson, Liza Minnelli and Edith Piaf. Imagine lyrics and spoken word pieces evocative of writers as vast as Lou Reed, Jim Morrison, T.S Elliot, Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Dr Seuss. Now wrap that in theatrical atmospherics which conjure up flavours of of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in a diversity-friendly package of powerful pop rock intertwined with powerful Avant Garde poetry, gestural signing and characterisations.
The term"Aspinauts" is a derivation of "Aspie" and "Autie". The name came about when the founding members, Donna Williams (who has autism) and Earl Wollff (who has Asperger's) formed the band in 2008. Future Aspinauts included those on and off the autism spectrum but have always included those who are diversity friendly. We're happy with challenging stereotypes, breaking down social barriers, promoting equality and tackling the tough subjects with theatre, surrealism and satire. We can do all this and still so love to have fun that our audiences really join with us.
The lyrics of the songs and the avant garde poetry and spoken word monologues that form our shows are influenced by both the theatrical and macabre, by a love of surrealism and by the existential angst of irrational 'rationality' around us - environmental destruction, global warming, oil wars, senseless conflicts, inequality, discrimination, mental health, isolation, alienation, homelessness, exploitation, the contortions of the concepts of love and caring. Other influences include sociology, Taoism and a deep celebration of utter silliness and dagdom.
The music is influenced by vast backgrounds of the different members of the band who bring influences which range from Ska to funk to jazzy blues, to pop rock and from avant garde, to comical, to theatrical, to educated cabaret to gothic and classics.
Our members bring together a vast range of musical tastes and styles, from jazz, blues, funk and rock to pop, folk, theatrical and satire. Several of The Aspinauts are also composers, have decades of musical experience and have played with other bands and produced recordings.
The Broken Biscuit album features live rehearsal recordings featuring Donna Williams (vocals), Paul Spears (drums), Derrick Nuttall, Earl Wollff and Mark Winston (bass), Russell Edwards and Anthony Julian (keyboards), Andrew Sherman and Mark Winston (guitar). Paul is also the producer of the Broken Biscuit album which was recorded at his studio, PV Studios, in Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia ( www.myspace.com/pvsounds )
grew up being a real life version of LV (Little Voice). At age 2, she was left a pop up portable 60s record player and a bunch of 45s and by age 4 had a repertoire of singing voices ranging from Jerry Lee Lewis to singing classical symphonies by Tchaikovsky. At 9, she was left another record player and a pile of 78s. Singing in voices from Louis Armstrong to Bing Crosby, Mitzy Gaynor to Ella Fitzgerald, Donna even sang as Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse and in the voices of a multitude of 70s TV advertisements and in her teens swung from an Abba phase into a penchant for Alice Cooper and his gothic theatrics and off into Melanie Safka. In her 20s she began to dare singing her own voice.
Donna is known internationally as an author (author of bestsellers Nobody Nowhere, Somebody Somewhere their sequels, Like Colour To The Blind and Everyday Heaven, the poetry book Not Just Anything, and four text books all sold through Jessica Kingsley Publishers. As a screenwriter several of her screenplays are represented by Bicoastal Talent, Burbank, CA. The film rights to her first book, Nobody Nowhere ( www.myspace.com/nobodynowherethefilm )were acquired by Hollywood producer Beverly Nero. The film is now in pre-production with award winning Australian director, Garth Davis to direct. An international public speaker, she has spoken before 1000s of people with her audiences captivated by her expressive gestural signing (home sign) which she also uses in her performances with The Aspinauts ( www.aspinauts.com ). She is also an artist (painter and sculptor). She also works in the autism field as a public speaker and consultant. Her home site is at www.donnawilliams.net .
As a singer-songwriter Donna recorded two solo albums. The first was produced by UK music producer, Paul Farrer, and titled 'Nobody Nowhere' after the title song ( http://www.cdbaby.com/donnaw ). The second album was produced by Australian producer, Akash, and titled 'Mutation' ( http://www.cdbaby.com/donnaw2 ), two tracks from which feature in an international TV series, 'Things You Taught Me'. Two tracks from her first album made the top 50 of Artist Underground and a track from her second album, Beautiful Behavioral Mutations had 20,000 hits on You Tube in a year. As a writer/producer, Donna has produced a number of one-woman rock-musicals which are musically supported by The Aspinauts. Broken Biscuit is Donna's first album The Aspinauts.
As we lounged around in front of the stage at the Rock n Rebuild Concert, Donna and the Aspinauts sauntered in and had the audience looking up from their snags to see what the hell had hit them front and center between the eyes and ears.
A-ha! These were no ordinary folk songs to be kum-by-ya'd around the campfire, no way! As the guys in the Aspinauts band changed gear quicker than a red Ferrari, front-woman Donna kept apace brilliantly with her phonetically charged lyrics and mesmerizing hands shaping the melody like an artist at the easel. I watched, captivated like the crowd around me. Each song blurred deliciously into the next with Donna's spoken word etching out the poetry of human condition, always so very eloquent and astutely connected to the song the band was about to launch into, such a poignant moment when Donna painted the scene of a blackened landscape, burnt by the very fires this benefit concert set to quell.
The set itself was just the right amount of time for Donna and the Aspinauts own musical genre to be smacked firmly into the hearts and minds of the audience. As a muso myself, I intuitively looked around to see the reaction of people who might not have had the chance to experience such a richly flavoured ensemble before, and as a muso, I can confidently say that The Aspinauts had the crowd in the rather elusive 'palm of the hand'.
I've seen this band a few times now and I thoroughly recommend an audience with a Donna and the Aspinauts event if you are ever given the chance. I say event because they are so much more than just a band playing music, each of your five senses will be buzzing before the end of the first song, and by the end of the show, you'll be definitely Aspi-fied."
- Heidi Everett
What an eye-opening night I had at The Butterfly Club, watching Donna and the Aspinauts! Amongst the rhythmic beats and uplifting tunes were embedded lyrics that move the soul. Through poetry and raw emotion I could not take my eyes or ears off this band. Explanations and perspectives that I have never thought to explore, bombarded me and lifted me to a higher place.
One minute I wanted to dance in the aisles, next I was dumbfounded by Donna’s ability to express. The Aspinauts stage presence is one no other band can contend with. I was taken on a wacky rollercoaster ride that spat me out at the end feeling empowered and inspired. This band explores world issues, personal conquests and how difficult it is circumnavigating the social world. A must see band for all!
- Adele Kristens
Donna and the Aspinauts at the 303 Bar. What a funny bunch. The lady is a true entertainer. She told amusing tales of life on the edge of society and made me envious I didn’t join her there. Real life? Social norms and expectations? Pah! Look what fun I’m having! She expressed herself even more with flailing arms and facial expressions than her voice, and began each song with a poem quickly captured by interesting and mischievous music. Tongue-in-cheek? Perhaps not. It cannot be genre-defined. I sincerely hope the lady is available for children’s parties.
- Jo Robinson
As remarkable a spokeswoman, activist, artist, author, and musician Donna is, her humanity is what really sets her apart; her humor, passion, wit and insight into the world around her; her ability to see beauty in everyday things, her playfulness, her way of being in the world. Donna changed the way I see everyone.
- Stina R.
"Confronting, amazing and informative". "Great, wonderful, get her back here." "Very informative, entertaining delivery with a great sense of humor. What an incredible lady."
- Audience members, Wodonga, Australia.
Donna being so lively, human, funny and so true to herself , sparks of the same in me. Her standing up for everyone's right to their individuality, her celebration of differences, and her joy of simply being, allows me to be more of myself and to discover rich inner worlds.
- Malai Sontheimer, UK
Don't forget to visit the Aspinauts site at www.aspinauts.com