Donny Osmond talks to us one on one!
I saw that Pepsi commercial again last night [the one with Ozzy Osbourne].
They’ve been playing that like crazy.
Did you shoot that in a day?
Yeah, at Ozzy’s house.
What was that like?
Crazy. (Laughs) What did you expect?
Could you imagine living like that?
No. As a matter of fact he said ‘lets hurry up and get this over with so I can have my house back to myself’.
I heard you were going back on tour.
Yeah, February 26th is the first official date in Ireland. I’m doing a couple test shows here next week.
What is your preparation like?
The music is set. The last month I’ve been trying to figure out what to present, there will be a lot of multimedia and the repertoire has to span my whole career. I’ve got to do “Puppy Love” and all the records in between. I’ve got forty years to draw from.
What do you enjoy being most? Being in the studio recording or on the road touring?
I love being on the road because you get an immediate reaction from the audience while onstage. But it’s a whole different dynamic in the studio to create this work of art that you are working on. The nice thing about the way that we did this record was it was all done over the Internet. I went over to Manchester, England and cut some tracks and then I just told them I was going to record them when I wanted to so I took my laptop, mic, and preamp and I would set up in hotel rooms or wherever and recorded when I felt like recording. Then I sent my vocals over the Internet to England.
I bet you liked the fact that it wasn’t very expensive compared to holing up in a studio.
Exactly. More of the money went where it should go and that was into the record instead of flights, hotel rooms, and those sorts of things.
When did you come up with the idea of doing covers instead of doing originals?
I’ve been kicking it around for years. You sing these songs and you say to yourself ‘I wish I had that song’ and if I did I would do it differently. I guess most recording artists hear certain songs and have an idea of how they’d do it and would love to be able to.
How do you even pick a few songs out of zillions of songs?
That is the problem Charlie. We had a list of at least a hundred maybe even a hundred and fifty to two hundred. What is harder is trying to cross certain songs off because each song is on the list because you love them. So narrowing them down to thirteen songs, that was tough.
My problem, if I could sing, would be how do I pick one song from just one certain artist, for instance the Beatles. Let alone picking single songs.
You know I wanted to do some Beatles songs but then again you don’t want to touch classics like that.
Did you get any feedback from any artists you’ve covered?
Nope, not yet. I think Daryl Hall heard the Hall and Oates tune.
You know the most interesting song was the Crowded House song.
That was kind of gutsy. I didn’t want to do it the same way that Crowded House did it. I did it more like a love song. These two producers talked me into it because I didn’t want to do it initially. It’s such a classic and how do you redo something like that.
I know you see “Puppy Love” as an albatross over your career, what made you decide to redo it?
(Laughs) Yeah in a way, but when you are doing a show you have to do it.
I know that female singers voice often change into their thirties and forties, is it the same for men?
My voice hasn’t changed, well since I was a kid, but you know they say that men’s voices are at their peek in their forties so I’m feeling very lucky right now. (Laughs)
Do you get enough time at home with the TV show and now the upcoming tour?
Well I have the ultimate schedule with the show because I only have to work two days a week. We do twelve shows in those two days so it gives you time to come home and live a normal life and still continue to do music.
Is there anything you haven’t explored creatively that you’d still like to try?
I’m in the mode of slowing down right now, so I don’t really want to conquer too many more horizons right now. Andrew Lloyd Webber called me up and wanted me to join Phantom and I’d love to do that but had to turn it down because of this record and Pyramid. Maybe someday I’ll do that, but I’m forty-five years old, and I love this album. It might not be the most commercial thing, but I’m in the mode of just doing what I want to do. If I want to go out on tour I put together what I want to put together. I’m very lucky to be in this position. Although, you heard what happened to the record in England?
It’s unbelievable. It went gold in one day and platinum in eight days. So I guess it’s better to just do what you want to do rather than trying to be commercially viable.
Any idea on the demographics?
What is interesting is that I’m much more of a recording artist over there than I am here. Here in the states I am a television personality more so than a recording artist. Over there they see me as a recording artist and I think my association with Peter Gabriel changed everyone’s perception.
Does it matter to you what people’s perceptions are?
It does matter in the sense that you want people to appreciate your work, but I guess I’m having my cake and eating it too. I know it might sound egotistically and I apologize for that but its great to be able to pick and choose what you want to do.
I think here you are seen as a ‘celebrity’ and there its as an ‘artist’…
…And I’m sure that is why the record did so well over there.
Are you bringing a band with you on the road?
No, it’s a strip show. [Donny pauses for effect and then starts laughing which gets me laughing] I have a five-piece band and a lot of multimedia.
Live cameras, there is a film that I put together. I found footage of me singing “Go Away Little Girl” from like ’73 and now I’m doing a duet with myself thirty years later.
Is the fan reaction different overseas?
It’s crazy over there; over here people are more reserved when I do a concert. But to be honest I’m jumping the gun by assuming how crazy it will be over there. The tour was sold out months ago and I’m not even going until the end of February. I don’t even know who is going to show up. Will it be old fans or a young contingent? Will there be screaming? I have no idea.
If you sold that many records it can’t just be older fans.
No, it has to be a younger contingent.
How does it feel to be doing it for forty years and fans discovering you just now?
I did Joseph [and the Technicolor Dreamcoat] over there and it was the number one video for young kids. (Laughs) So I think there is going to be a lot of young kids in the audience.
I just interviewed Corey Feldman for the Surreal Life TV show he is on and I’m curious if you could do a show like that who would you want to be cast with you?
First I’d never do a show like that.
Theoretically, well just for fun.
Just for fun? I think it would have to be interesting after working with Ozzy to live with him for a week. Donny Osmond and Ozzy living together in a house together would be a comedy of errors.
Would you rather have him at your house or you at his house?
Oh, I’d rather have him at my house. I’d like to see how he’d react. (Laughs)
+ Charlie Craine