Donnie Vie first made an impact on me when I saw the New Thing video which led me to go straight out and buy a copy of Enuff Z'Nuff's same titled debut album. Since then, I've followed his career like a stalker during his time with legendary Chicago outfit Enuff Z'Nuff and more latterly during his solo career. He is, in my mind, one of the most underated singers deserved of bigger and better things and a truly talented singer/songwriter.
Donnie, its been a number of years since you parted company with Enuff Z'Nuff and relocated to LA in which time you've gone solo, got married, started your own website and released a number of CDs.
Has the move from Chicago to LA been everything you expected it would be in terms of getting away and launching your solo career?
Well I didn't really set out to launch a solo career and it has been everything I hoped it would be, getting a way from Chicago, there was a lot of bad memories, friends dying, a little drug thing, past relationships, just everything, it makes me sick thinking of even going there, I haven't even seen my family in years, I just don't have it in me to go to Chicago I don't know why. I love it out here in LA, the weather's always beautiful and I've just done nothing but spend all my time learning how to play everything and do everything myself. I had to go from being the singer, rhythm guitar player and piano player to doing everything, engineering, producing, writing it all, singing, playing all the instruments, learning how to use a computer, learning how to use a recording studio, all that stuff, there's a hell of a lot to it and this six song record is the first record that I've mixed myself and if it doesn't sound the best well, I gotta start somewhere.
Has married life made you change your outlook on any aspects of your career?
Yeah, its affected my career quite a bit, married life takes over everything. Ya know I spent a lot of time on the road, for about 15 to 20 years I hadn't been home for more than a couple of months at a time and Joni takes care of me and looks out for me, she mothers me quite a bit, I guess somebody's got to.
There's been rumblings on your website that a UK and European tour just might be on the cards. Given some personal difficulties in the past with travel, is it finally safe to say that we can expect to see you over here at some point in the near future?
Yeah absolutely, I love to come and tour the UK and Europe as soon as I can get a band together, a decent band, I've been checking out different things. Ya know the next thing I do has gotta be better in my opinion than what I've done before and so its like I gotta have the right guys and so when I have the right guys and the right situation and everything, the first place I'll be is the UK.
I didn't have any personal difficulties with travel, I think Chip said that and made that shit up, I have no problems with travelling, I just have problems with travelling with Enuff Z'Nuff.
Do you think your website www.donnievie.com has given fans the opportunity to get more involved with you directly and get up close and personal?
That's what I set out to do. I've spread myself kinda thin with a lot of different things that will all make sense to people as they start to round up. I have ADD so I tackle 15/20 projects at a time and then when they get finished they all get finished at the same time so its not like I take one thing and finish it. It seems like I don't get involved in a lot but I'm definitely hands on and everything its just that there's a lot of other things to do as well but believe me I'm checking up on things.
How closely do listen to the fans requests for old material and requests?
Well as a matter of fact I'm recording a live record next month and its gonna be strictly just an acoustic record of my old favourites and some of the requests that I've checked out of favourite Enuff Z'Nuff songs, intimate versions, acoustic guitar and myself, maybe a couple of surprise guests.
You obviously got close to Derek Frigo again just before his tragic death, how would you rate Derek as a friend and musician?
Well as a friend he was closer than a brother, I loved Derek and I hated Derek at the same time but at the end it was wonderful to finally get to see Derek and the whole time I've ever known him, I never got a chance to see him like I did at the end, straight and with a personality and like a human being. I've only known the inebriated and intoxicated Derek or the 'shaking it off' Derek, ya know, hung over and sleepy so there's no personality in that, its like that was never his personality, he would lay it on extra thick, it was a put on façade when he would get high ya know everything was made up for him, I don't know what the deal was why he just felt so insecure and not content to be Derek. So as I said it was great just to see Derek pick me up in his car and stop at a gas station and put in gas in his car like a human being, that blew me away but we got everything worked out at the end there so it was good, it made it harder in some ways but it made it a lot better.
One for the Road features a reunion gig with yourself, Derek and Vikki Fox, tell us more about that release.
Yeah that was great gig, we had a great time doing it. Who knows what we were planning to do. We were gonna see where it went from there but unfortunately Derek died and that was the end of it and Vik is now doing his own thing. I don't know what's happening with playing with Vik, I certainly have no problem with it, it seems the ball's kinda like in his court with that one, if preparation meets opportunity we'll see what happens.
Was the plan for the three of you to reform and tour or was it just a case of playing a few reunion shows for old time's sake?
Yeah, well we were even gonna pull Chip together, we wanted to do the whole thing, we were gonna do an actual reunion but Chip blew that one, you can ask Chip how he blew that one - and tell him Viper Room, that's all you need to say - Viper Room and Chip Z'Nuff, blew the reunion.
I see you've released a DVieD, is that just Donnie Vie material or does it feature some unreleased Enuff Z'Nuff footage?
Oh man its got all kinds of Enuff Z'Nuff shit on it, its got all the Enuff Z'Nuff videos, all the ones that you don't get on the others, its got the very first gig we ever played as Enuff Z'Nuff back in the old days, its got . you gotta check out the DVieD, its not just like an Enuff Z'Nuff one its jam packed with all kinds a great shit. There's some guest star stuff on there, you just gotta buy that one, trust me on this one. If you like me and you like Enuff Z'Nuff and stuff like that you'll like this DVieD, its a lot of fun.
Just Enough put you firmly back on the map as a truly gifted singer and songwriter but This and That featured some older unreleased material from Enuff Z'Nuff days. When will we most likely see the next release from you as a solo artist?
Well that'll be this next six song thing I'm putting out I guess next month, there's three originals and three cover tunes, its just something to put out in the time being that I did just by myself, the next thing I do I don't plan to do it completely by myself, I'll work with other guys, I'll not say who right now, but this one was something I did completely by myself, written, played, performed, recorded, engineered, mixed everything by myself.
Ignoring all the past reports of bust ups with Enuff Z'Nuff members, I think its true to say that there is a real loyal fan base out there.
I love the Enuff Z'Nuff fans, they're the best man, the fans and the friends that I've known throughout the years they really just stuck with us and there's not the most amount of them but they're mighty.
I guess one of the burning questions on all fans' lips is will we ever see Enuff Z'Nuff reform and tour or is there no question of that?
Absolutely, I have no doubt in my mind that we'll probably do something, I don't know what the line-up will be but I know Chip and I will be doing something again and hopefully we'll get Vik in there and maybe Gino Martino or even maybe Alex Kane, he was in Enuff Z'Nuff too right before Derek, he's in a band called Anti-Product now, he's their singer, he was our guitar player.
In your own personal opinion, why, if so many people list Enuff Z'Nuff as one of the most underated bands of all time, did you guys never make it bigger?
There's a long story to that, I'm getting ready to do an interview, its gonna be more like a short book, I got the guy right now I'm gonna do it with and I'm gonna tell the whole story right from the beginning of Enuff Z'Nuff all the way up to the present date of everything that exactly happened, how we got fucked, we just completely got fucked, we were at the wrong place at the wrong time, we couldn't have been in a more fucked up situation and it was real unfortunate but who knows what god's plan is and why god works in mysterious way, someday maybe it'll all make sense.
Looking back, which part of your career would you most like to have changed?
Probably the look, I would have definitely have changed the look and to make a long story short, I think I might have really capitalised on the Clive Davis period, I think I might have taken more advantage of that situation where I was more loyal to my guys and really ignored the self beneficial type, eh, I mean I didn't really look out for myself whatsoever, I had a situation where I could really have capitalised and I didn't take advantage of it and I regret that a lot of times.
You've accomplished quite a lot in your career, if there was one thing you could do outside of music, what would it be?
Maybe act or something like that, or win the Lotto - win the Lottery - that would be great.
What's your favourite and least favourite EZN song?
I could never say my favourite Enuff Z'Nuff song and my least favourite, probably Something For Free, that's one of my least favourite, Kiss The Clown, My Heroin, Yankee Rose, or Gorgeous.
What's your favourite and least favourite Donnie Vie song?
Alice In A Jam, I can't stand that, I don't mind the song, I just hate the recording I did of it, its a terrible version, that's not how I wanted it to come out at all, I came out real fuckin' tweenky, I came out sounding like a little pansy and my favourite Donnie Vie song, probably this new one coming out called Code Red.
Donnie, thanks for taking the time to talk to Glitzine. If you could leave Glitzine readers with one parting piece of advice that you've picked up along the way, what would it be?
Stay off drugs, that's my number one advice and if you've got a goal in mind, stick to your goal and work towards it, and anything that your doing that's not working towards your goal is working away from your goal, remember that.
Donnie finishes up with a real surprise. When we chatted, he asked me what my favourite Donnie Vie song was to which I told him Wasting Time. Donnie continues by performing an acoustic version of the song that once again reminds me why I think he is one of the most underrated musicians out there. The song is available at the Vie Club for members.
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the DVieD and CDs, go to www.donnievie.com
Interviewed by Grant W.
Visit Donnie Vie's Website