Obviously Donny is a very busy man these days--the interview below was conducted on his cell phone as he was on his way to one of his many DWTS rehearsals--but there seems to be a Donny Osmond renaissance going on these days, and he is certainly enjoying it. I suppose after all these years, Donny Osmond is still a little bit rock 'n' roll.
REALITY ROCKS: So I know you're on your way to dance class after this. What new dances are you working on?
DONNY: Well, the first one will be the Viennese waltz, and then the second one will be the paso doble, but done in an '80s style. Do you remember Adam Ant?
REALITY ROCKS: Do I! Of course!
DONNY: Well, it's going to be like that. I'm going to be in full makeup and everything.
REALITY ROCKS: Oh wow. You do not know how excited I am about this.
REALITY ROCKS: So what made you decide to join Dancing With The Stars?
DONNY: Well, Marie did it two years ago, and since then they've been calling me every season, saying, "When are you going to do it?" I just kept saying no, that I was not really interested. Finally I just said, "Oh, let's do it." But I picked an interesting time to do it, while we're doing Vegas. So I'm doing a full-production show in Vegas, on top of Dancing With The Stars.
REALITY ROCKS: That's crazy. How do you do it all? Do you sleep?
DONNY: I don't. Nah. I thought, "Let's put that on hold for a couple of months." Sleep is overrated.
REALITY ROCKS: So is there any sense of healthy competition between you and Marie, since she was on the show and went pretty far?
DONNY: Oh, what do you think? [laughs] Come on! You can answer that question!
REALITY ROCKS: Has she given you any pointers or tips?
DONNY: Oh, yeah. But you know, I don't listen. [laughs]
REALITY ROCKS: Brothers never do. So...you're not going to do a doll dance, are you?
DONNY: Are you kidding?
REALITY ROCKS: Actually, it would be really funny if you did...
DONNY: Um, I don't think so.
REALITY ROCKS: Yeah, I guess Marie kind of cornered that market.
DONNY: Yes, and I'll let her have that corner! [laughs]
REALITY ROCKS: Good idea. So, this is a question that's probably been asked of anyone who's been on Dancing With The Stars who has a performance background, like Mel B or Joey Fatone...do you think you have any sort of unfair advantage on the show because you've performed onstage and in concert and on variety shows for years? It's not like you've never danced before.
DONNY: It's funny you should bring that up, because when I first started on the show, that was the big controversy. Everyone said it just was not fair to the rest of the celebrities on there, because I've been dong this since, you know, dirt was created. But my reply was, and still is: Look at my scores! If I have some unfair advantage, it's not working! Because I've been third, fourth, fifth in the leaderboard. Yeah, I did make it to the top one time, but the dances are all so different. And I have such an appreciation for ballroom, because it is so technically difficult. And there nine or 10 different dances you've got to learn. So that's my spiel about that. I really don't have an unfair advantage--maybe to a certain extent I do because I've been entertaining. And even Carrie and Bruno and Len have said, "You're the consummate crowd-pleaser." But when it comes to the technicalities of ballroom, I don't have an advantage. Maybe the expectations are high for me because I've been in the business so long, but still, they have to judge on what they see. Now it's just down to how well you dance, and there's no other factor.
REALITY ROCKS: So in the middle of doing both Dancing With The Stars and the Vegas show, you are putting out a new single and relaunching that part of your career...
DONNY: Yep. Can you think of anything else I can do?
REALITY ROCKS: Hmmm. You could star in your own reality dating show! Donny Of Love. Except you're married. Or you could create your own perfume, since all celebrities have their own fragrance these days.
DONNY: Okay, I'll do that. [laughs]
REALITY ROCKS: You seem to have a pretty full plate already. So let's talk about this new song, "I Have You To Thank." How many years has it been since you released a solo single?
DONNY: The last major single and thrust at radio was "Soldier Of Love" in 1989. I have released quite a few albums since then, but as far as really focusing on a single at radio, this is the first time since '89.
REALITY ROCKS: So what made you decide to jump back into that fray?
DONNY: Well, I think it was the Donny & Marie album. The timing of this thing is right, especially with what's happening in Vegas. We knew there would be individual songs as well as duets on there, obviously, but when Gavin DeGraw's song came to my attention, that's when the lightbulb came on and I thought, "You know what? I'm really going to give this 110 percent. I'm going to go for this." Especially with doing Dancing With The Stars, I would be kind of stupid not to take advantage of this opportunity! I'm just trying to be blatantly honest about it. It makes business sense, and career sense.
REALITY ROCKS: So what's been the reaction to the single so far?
DONNY: Well, the way the record company did it, they wanted to do a very similar thing to "Soldier Of Love"...
REALITY ROCKS: Did they release it secretly, without your name on it at first? I remember reading that was how "Soldier Of Love" was marketed, so people would react more objectively.
REALITY ROCKS: I suppose. But you are still a little bit rock 'n' roll!
DONNY: Well, there you go. I like that. I haven't heard that phrase before in my life. [laughs]
REALITY ROCKS: Sorry, I couldn't resist. But hey, if there was ever any proof of that phrase, getting people like that to work with you is it!
DONNY: Yeah! I'd recorded another song that Richie wrote, and he heard the Gavin song and he said, "I gotta be a part of this." So he went in and did the solo. And then, interestingly enough, it was all done and ready to go and then Gavin said, "Please let me take one more pass with the piano track." I thought it was good and ready as a single, but he went back in and just added a little magic to it. It was kind of an evolving thing where everybody starting going, "You know what? We got something here!" It just took on a life of its own.
REALITY ROCKS: When we talk about stuff like your music being released without your name on it so that radio programmers will be more open-minded...does it kind of bum you out that that would even have to be done? You've been in the music business forever. You shouldn't have to do that.
DONNY: Yeah, but you said it right there: I've been in the music business forever. And that's the way it works. People can be very jaded, and they like something that's new. If something is preconceived, then they immediately have a judgment on it. So if that's the way it has to work, I don't mind it. It's called marketing. If you have to market it to get a great song heard, then market it to death! Just so the song can be heard and be judged...what was the title of that George Michael album...
REALITY ROCKS: Listen Without Prejudice?
DONNY: Yes. Listen without prejudice.
REALITY ROCKS: Speaking of listening without prejudice, and music in general, there was no way I could get you on the phone without talking about the Osmonds album Crazy Horses. We HAVE to talk about that.
DONNY: I'd love to.
REALITY ROCKS: That album comes up as an influence among many credible rock artists, many people in modern bands. I don't know if many laypeople out there are aware of this album, but it has a huge cult following among musicians and diehard music fans. How did it become this underground phenomenon?
DONNY: Well, I think it's kind of interesting how the Osmond name has been really seen on both sides of the pendulum. There's obviously the bubblegum side, but for people who really know about music, it's clear on the other side. As a matter of fact, I find it quite ironic that Metallica used to cover [title track] "Crazy Horses." It was a cutting-edge album.
REALITY ROCKS: How was it received at the time?
DONNY: Over in the European markets, particularly in the U.K., it was huge. But here in the States, once people locked their jaws into something, whether it be the "Puppy Love" era or the cartoons or whatever, then those people figured a band doing cartoons couldn't do rock 'n' roll music. The Jackson 5, now, were a different dynamic, because they weren't considered rock 'n' roll, that was R&B. But for white guys doing cartoons, people thought, "They can't be doing songs like 'Crazy Horses'!" I find it really interesting because we put "Crazy Horses" in the current Vegas show, and there's smoke and a video that's going like crazy and four dancers, and the place goes berserk. I find it fascinating how the audience reacts to this hard rock 'n' roll song, in the midst of a variety show!
REALITY ROCKS: Are you aware of this Chuck Eddy book that came out about 10 years ago?
DONNY: No, I don't know it.
DONNY: Are you kidding me?
REALITY ROCKS: Seriously! Number 66 out of 500! Of course he got a lot of flak for that, because there were a lot of metal purists who couldn't understand how an Osmonds record could be on that list.
DONNY: I think that's so cool that he would be willing to do that.
REALITY ROCKS: He had a strong argument for why it should be included, because one of the most metal or punk-rock things a band like the Osmonds could do would be to make a record like that.
DONNY: Wow. That is cool!
- Donny Osmond