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Out Of The Mouth Of Belly

Lead singer Tanya Donelly answers our questions about Life Savers, learning to kiss, and more

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We know that alternative-rock goddess Tanya Donelly, the 5’2” founder of Belly, wears red platform shoes with big buckles. We know that she played , guitar with Throwing Muses for six years and helped form the Breeders as a side project before striking out on her own. We also know that Belly’s swirly pop debut, Star, became the No. 1 college album earlier this year. And that Donelly, who plans to marry another guitarist, Chick Graning, in August, is responsible for the album’s catchy lyrics, vocals, and sensual undercurrent. But there was still a lot we didn’t know about the 26-year-old native of Newport, R.I.

Have you ever written anything on a bathroom wall?
I once wrote something on the back of an airplane toilet seat. Ivo [Watts-Russell], the guy who runs our English label, sent me a quote, ”We disrupt the grace of living when we lie.” It was my favorite thing that day.

What did your third-grade teacher say about you, and is it still true?
That I was too quiet and tired all the time. I’m less shy now, but I’m still tired a lot.

How did you learn to kiss?
On my hand. I still do kiss my hand sometimes.

What record in your collection are you ashamed of?
I have every record that Paul McCartney ever made. I feel a combination of shame and childhood pride over that.

Can you drive a stick shift?
That’s all I drive. I space out with an automatic. I forget I’m driving a machine — not a good thing.

What ambition have you given up already?
I’ve given up on beauty. It used to be really important to me as a teenager, and I can honestly say it’s not a goal anymore.

In what ways are you still a virgin?
Religiously. I’m a very spiritual person, but I haven’t found God yet.

How long do you wait when people are late?
A half hour on the outside. I’m really bad at waiting for people. That said, I’m always late myself.

What’s life like on Planet Belly?
Scatological. We talk about bodily functions a lot.

What is your favorite flavor of Life Savers?
Wint O Green-because they sparkle when you bite into them.

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