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ALL THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS: AN INTERVIEW WITH DONNIE VIE

by Michael McCarthy

I remember first seeing the video for Enuff Z’Nuff’s debut single, “New Thing,” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball and wondering what planet they were from. Sure, there were plenty of heavy metal bands – like Poison and Pretty Boy Floyd – who wore a lot of makeup, but Enuff Z’Nuff took things to another extreme. Talk about a glam slam. I wasn’t crazy about the song either, to be totally honest. However, I was always burying my face in music magazines, and they were getting rave reviews, so one day I picked up their self-titled debut so I could hear more of their stuff. The very first time I listened to it, I fell in love with the song “I Could Never Be Without You.” This guy was singing about loving someone so much he couldn’t even exist without them. At the time, I was a senior in high school and I was hopelessly infatuated with a girl who wasn’t interested and it was killing me. I felt like the band’s singer and songwriter, Donnie Vie, was the only person on earth who could understand what I was feeling. I grew to love the whole album, but it was that particular song that I played again and again and again. Cut to a couple of years later and the band released their sophomore album, Strength. I bought it the day it came out and was blown away. Of course, I had no doubt that they could deliver a great record, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that brilliant. Every song on the album was fantastic. Some were catchy, others sad, but they were all leagues above – and different from — what any of their peers were doing. I loved how the songs tackled topics like racism and war, things most bands I listened to wouldn’t touch. And those ballads! “Goodbye” and “Strength” still give me chills sometimes all this time later. And as the years went by, the band released one killer album after another and I became an even more dedicated fan with each release.

In 1994 when heavy metal bands were suddenly referred to as hair bands and many people renounced them in favor of grunge, I decided to start a zine to support the bands I always loved: ANT, The Only Cool Magazine That Bites. (I named it that because I loved WarrANT and ANThrax.) If I had one goal for the zine, it was to interview Donnie Vie. As it happened, I ended up interviewing Chip Z’Nuff, the band’s super cool bassist, who I’ve since interviewed about a dozen times. I was always asking Chip to get me an interview with Donnie, but for whatever reason, he never did. Mind you, I also tried getting an interview through Enuff Z’Nuff’s various publicists over the years, but they always said he wasn’t doing interviews or failed to get back to me. As the years went on, my inability to get an interview with Donnie only made me that much more determined to speak with him. I even put interviewing him on my bucket list. So, imagine how elated I was when I received an e-mail two weeks ago from a publicist asking me to interview him about his excellent new album, Beautiful Things, which is out now on Deko music. I couldn’t believe it. I’m sure my excited reply must have made me sound like an obsessive weirdo. Thankfully, I was given an interview in spite of that. I can only hope that reading it brings you half the joy that I experienced while conducting it. And I highly recommend you check out Beautiful Things if you’ve ever liked Donnie’s solo work or Enuff Z’Nuff because it has all the good vibes, irresistible melodies and spectacular colors that his music has always had and then some.

MM: So, everyone’s talking about the Pledge Music disaster. Do you remember where you were when you heard about their trouble?

DV: Where I was? I don’t remember exactly. You hear about it and first, it’s a rumor and then you talk to them, “No, we’re gonna be OK. We’re getting it together.” Then you start to hear it from everybody. It was like a month or two-month-long process. We just basically figured it out and it wasn’t much longer before they announced that they’re gone and everybody got screwed.

MM: If someone were to come along and start something similar, would you take a chance on it or would you just do your own version at this point?

DV: If someone had something similar, I always thought it was a great concept and a great idea and it’s been up and running for quite some time. Of course, when I get involved it’s just my luck, you know? [Laughs] It goes under. I mean, I think I would try to go more direct this time to the fans. With Pledge going under and everything, I’m like the only artist who did honor the pledge to the fans. Even though we were out 20, 30 grand or whatever, what’s another few grand to actually physically buy the CDs and get them to them and sign some posters and whatever you had to do and pay the postage and all that stuff. My sister helped me and we got that all taken care of and everybody got their stuff. So, we have all of the connections to the people that did Pledge. All the new fans and all the old fans. So, I think I would go with a more direct approach and just say the Pledge thing kind of fell apart last time, but you got what you paid for, and I think everybody’s happy with the record, so let’s just go direct and do this. We want to make a record, let’s do the pledge, just direct. You know, Paypal. There you go, there’s Paypal. [Laughs]

MM: How did you come to be signed to Deko Music?

DV: That kind of became an issue after the Pledge thing fell apart. They approached me a bunch of times and I really wasn’t interested in a record deal at the time. As time went on, it just became kind of necessary to. They kept coming back and the deal got better and better then they finally got something I could live with. And I came along with a Japanese deal and everything. So, we signed with them and so far they’ve been doing really good. They’ve surprised me. I’ve worked with the smaller labels in the past and it hasn’t been the most successful situation. Some of them just make this plastic CD and that’s about all they do. They [Deko] have been keeping me working. I’ve been doing a lot of interviews, getting ready to start doing some dates and stuff like that. It’s cool. It’s working out well. I love these guys.

MM: I was wondering if you had plans to tour in support of the album?

DV: Unless there was some drastic reason why I would want to, I don’t think I’ll quote unquote tour this. I’m not getting on a bus and riding around to play a couple nice shows a week then you have five days of shitty shows, you know? Just to pay the gas money for the bus. And it’s not healthy. I’m healthy now and I’m sober now. That could be detrimental to my health, and my sobriety, and my spiritual and just my psychological state of being. It’s very disheartening out there sometimes. It’s a whole new market that I’m stepping into. From out of one and into another. It’s been a while. I took some time to just get it together and rebuild myself so I figure now’s the time to be doing what I really thought I should be doing all along and make this record. This is the record I’ve always wanted to make.

MM: I know you had been hospitalized for a pancreatic problem. Is that something you’ve fully recovered from or is that something you have to deal with for the rest of your life?

DV: They told me that I’d be dealing with it for quite a while but I’m absolutely, one hundred percent fine. It happened a couple days after Thanksgiving. It shocked the hell out of me. I knew something was wrong. I had been sick for quite a while. My stomach was just tore up all through making the record. I just felt terrible and I started slipping a little bit with the drinking again because I just felt so terrible and I had no enthusiasm or drive. It’s like my old habit of medicating something and then I had to nip that in the bud. God works in mysterious ways. He put me flat on my back for a month and a half in the hospital, starving to death. I lost 43 pounds. I got out of there and I started out doing what I’m supposed to do, eating fruit and berries and shit like that, you know? No coffee and no cigarettes. And I said, the drugs are gone, the alcohol is gone, most of the chicks are gone, the touring – all this and that. What’s left? I’ve gotta eat fruit and berries for the rest of my life? I started slowly eating a couple of things. Before you know it, I’m back on my feet.

MM: I know you had some trouble with your hands from your Facebook posts. I was just curious – if it ever reaches a point where you can’t play guitar or piano, would you still perform as a vocalist or would you feel too naked without playing an instrument?

DV: Well, the last years with Enuff Z’Nuff, the last two or three years or so, the guitarist in there – his name is Tori, he’s still with Enuff Z’Nuff now – he was very competent and he played very full and covered everything. When I started picking up the guitar again – because I had been off for like six years – it was unnecessary. The parts were unnecessary and so I figured my main thing is [being] a singer. When I’m in the studio, I play guitar. I play the keyboards. I do everything. When I’m out there, I really need to sing. That’s the thing. And with my songs, they’re good songs but they also need my voice to power through them and, like you said with the hands, I don’t know exactly yet what’s going on with them. I haven’t really had any success and it’s kind of traveling up my left arm a little bit. I’m still demoing. I’ve demoed thirty new songs now for the next venture. But you can play for half a minute or a minute then the hand gets too tired and you rest for a minute or so then go back. And you can’t do that live, obviously, so my plan is for that possibly to be the case. That’s what my plan will probably be. The more I think about it, that’s what I should be doing, you know? Just get a good, solid band so it sounds like the record. Because I wouldn’t be able to play all those cool parts that I play while I’m singing lead vocals anyway.

MM: On the new album you worked again with Mike Tholen, co-producing the album with him. Did you keep in touch all these years or did you have to look him up?

DV: Well, like I said, I went through a big recovery program and as I was reaching the end of that I started venturing back into the world. I mean, I kept my world very small. But I started to venture back into social media and things like that. Just to have something to do and get back in touch with people. And there he was. I seen him and I’m like, Mike Tholen, I always loved him. He was one of the good ones. He’s so good at what he does. I think he’s better at what he does than I am at what I do. He wanted to do it and he said let’s do it and I said OK. So, we got the Pledge thing going because, obviously, he needed to be paid. And so did some of the other cats that played on it. Some of the all-star cast that played on it didn’t want to be paid and a couple of them did. It was very cheap, but Mike’s great.

MM: How did you and Johnny Monaco and Erik Donner come to make that “Troublemaker” track?

DV: There’s still some animosity between Chip and myself. Some unresolved issues. Especially with his new Enuff Z’Nuff record. Some of the things were I guess aimed at me. And I’m like, well, yeah. And I had that song. It was called something else, but Mike and I both thought this is a little Enuff Z’Nuff-y, and doesn’t really fit on my record. I said, hey, I’ll do it as one last Enuff Z’Nuff song. And I love John – he’s a friend – and Erik Donner is just a sweet guy. And they’re both so talented. So, I figured I’d call them both. I said, do you guys want to do this song? They came down and we banged it out in a day. I thought it came out well. We didn’t push it or anything because it’s pretty strong jabs, you know? But it was all former Enuff Z’Nuff guys so it was fun. It’s a funny song. I was gonna call it Enuff Z’Nuff, but Chip trademarked the name. He owns all that stuff now. I don’t know why or how he did that but I don’t care. As the main writer and vocalist for the band, I would use it if I want to.

MM: How did you connect with the guests on Beautiful Things? Like Paul Gilbert and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. from Jellyfish and so forth?

DV: Well, Paul has always been a friend of mine. Our first national tour was with Mr. Big and so we gained a lot of respect for each other then, and through the years we kept in touch, and he’s always been a really good friend. He’s always been really supportive of what I do. He’s amazing. So, I just reached out to him and said, “Hey, would you be interested in playing on a track?” He’s like, “Can I hear the track?” So, I sent him “Beautiful Things” and he said, “Absolutely, I’ll play on that.” Of course, he’s not gonna ask me for any money, you know? He did a great job, too. The drummer that I used for most of the record was a drummer named Matt Walker who played with Garbage, Morrisey and Beck. He’s a pro and so Mike suggested him and I’m like, OK, yeah, I like that guy. So, he came down and did an amazing job. He was on tour with the Morrisey, and he’d just finished Beck, and some of those guys travel in the same circle. He was out there with Roger and he said I know Roger well. And I’ve always loved Jellyfish and I thought that guy was amazing. So, we contacted him as well and Roger got right back to me and said, sure, I’ll do it.

MM: That’s the first thing I’ve heard of Roger doing in years and years. Was he out of the music business before that?

DV: I don’t really know. I asked him if he’s still working with Andy [from Jellyfish] and he says, “Well, our relationship, when it’s successful, it’s with us having nothing to do with each other.” [Both laugh] I can relate to that, you know? I understand that. But he was very professional, man. He did it basically out on the road. He had his stuff with him and when he sent it back it far exceeded my expectations. That was “I Could Save the World.” I was like, oh my goodness, that’s very good. You did a very good job. I would like to use him much more on the next record. Maybe incorporate him into almost everything.

MM: I’ve always wondered how you approach the songwriting process. Does it start with a lyric idea or does the music come first – how does the magic happen?

DV: You know, you just hit the nail on the head. It’s the closest thing to actual real magic that I’ve ever experienced in my life. Like with “I Could Save the World,” I hadn’t written a song in the whole of three and a half years I was down, getting it together. Wherever my ideas come from shut that valve off on me for a while. And when I was ready to go again, I’m like, I don’t have any songs and they’re not coming to me like they usually do. An idea will just beam into my head, just like you turn on the TV, and I hear it and it’s like a hook or something like that that I can work from. Then I follow the song until it’s finished. But they came back and the floodgates opened, one after another, and it’s my job just to not fuck it up. And do it justice. Just like a child. You’ve gotta raise it well and give it its best chance when it leaves to roost.

MM: So, during that period, you didn’t sit down and try to write a song? You just waited until one popped into your head?

DV: I think the best songs – even throughout history – nobody sits down and tries to write a song. You can hear a lot of music where it sounds like somebody sat down and tried to write a song. Then there’s me. And other guys just like me that don’t sit down and try to do it. You’ve got no choice. It’s just what God, or the higher power, or the higher energy, has put you here to do, and it gives you the ammunition and that’s my job, you know? And, no, I don’t sit down to intentionally write a song. I’ll sit down after the idea comes and work it out. So, that’s the way it works. It’s a labor of love.

MM: You’re certainly one of the most prolific songwriters of your generation. Do you know approximately how many songs you’ve written?

DV: [Laughs] I never thought of myself as prolific. I think I’m your typical Southside thug. A Chicago thug, you can tell by my accent just like I can tell you’re East Coast. I always write a big batch and then the good ones make it to the top and the other ones kind of fall out of the bottom. I would say I’m in the ball park of probably somewhere in the neighborhood of between five hundred and a thousand with all kinds of unreleased stuff.

MM: That’s incredible.

DV: And still counting. Like I said, when the songs came back, I finished that record and I’m still going. Usually, there’s a down period after you finish a record. You’re exhausted from it all and the ideas won’t come until next time, but they started coming back. So, I’ve been sitting, demoing, just slaving over that demo equipment, but it’s the thing I love to do the most. Without my other addictions, my addition has applied itself to what it needs to be applied to and everywhere I go I have that stuff with me and I just can’t seem to not be doing it.

MM: So, when you’re out and about, do you sing into your cellphone or jot things down in a notebook – how do you make sure you don’t lose them when they pop into your head?

DV: Can I tell you something off the bat?

MM: Sure.

DV: Out of all the interviews I do, and I probably do twenty, thirty a week, you’ve got the best questions.

MM: Really?

DV: This is really fun because you’re asking me things that I want to talk about. But, yeah, I use my cellphone. I hum into it and sometimes I can understand what it is because I usually don’t have a guitar with me when it comes. Sometimes I can understand what it is. Sometimes I don’t. But they’re there for safekeeping if I’m busy at the time. That’s how I do it.

MM: What was the first song that came to you for Beautiful Things?

DV: Like I said, “I Could Save the World.” That was the first song that I got when the valve opened. There was that then came the third song then I believe the fifth song, “Fly,” the ballad. One after another, they came. And, of course, when you get into the studio and that vibe’s going, and you’ve got the energy, you always write a couple more there. But, yeah, “I Could Save the World.” A great way to come back into this thing.

MM: Yeah, that one’s a great one. What songs would you most like to be remembered for like fifty years from now or what have you?

DV: Well, I can tell you what songs I definitely don’t want to be remembered by and those are the ones that I’m kind of remembered by, you know what I mean? I would say, I don’t know, there’s a lot of good ones. But I would rather go with this record. So far, yeah, I would go with this record. “I Could Save the World” is a pretty good one. Either that or “Fly.” They’re both really good messages.

MM: Was there any particular story behind “Fly”?

DV: Oh, absolutely. It’s a song that’s giving back to God and to the way that it saved my life. And the program that I got in, Celebrate Recovery in Michigan, it was just such a wonderful thing. My energy came back to life and everything. And I’ve always sang with a message to people. My dark message saying here’s what happened to me, I hope it doesn’t happen to you. But then everything turned around and was positive. And that’s the thing. It’s not the money that I care about. It’s not any kind of fame or being a rock star. I’m not any of those. It’s giving the message. It’s here I am now, I’ve been through this, how are you doing? If you’re still struggling, then check it out, I’m probably the biggest buffoon in the history of music, and if I can do this, and this happens for me, then this can happen for you as you put together the good moments instead of the bad moments. The good things snowball and I want people to know that that happens, and you can be happy again, and you can get out of that dark, lonely, ugly world.

MM: That’s great. On another note, Enuff Z’Nuff released quite a few back catalog albums like Peach Fuzz, 1985 and Clowns Lounge. Are there plans for any more of those type of releases?

DV: Well, obviously, nobody cares about my approval or permission or any of that stuff. So, that’s a question for Chip. From what I hear, he’s still doing that and I give him my blessing; go do that if that’s still what you want to do. I need to evolve, you know? I need to go to the next level with what I do. I don’t want to just cut that loose and lose my entire life and career, but pretty much I kind of have to. To move forward, you have to let go of the past.

Before Enuff Z’Nuff made their major-label debut,
they made this fun, pop-minded album.

MM: I’ve always wondered, was that ? [Question Mark] album another back catalog album or was that an official album?

DV: Well, that was another one. I was not in the band at the time. I had no choice in the matter. Yes, those were, obviously, old things laying around. As you can tell by the sound of the record and everything. Rejects or whatever. Not rejects, but never finished or this and that. And for some reason or another I never thought they were ready. But, you know, I don’t know where his agenda lies, but he sometimes can confuse motion with progress. But in all fairness to Chip, he kept us working at a small capacity when we were down and nobody was working with us. But it’s like, what are you gonna do?

MM: I do have to say that one of my favorite songs that you’ve written is on that album and that’s “How Are You.”

DV: I was just gonna mention that! There is one good song on that record. [Laughs]

MM: What’s the story behind that one?

DV: Just like it sounds. There’s a break-up, and then when you start writing the song and you start getting into it, and you start feeling the emotion coming from it, you want to enhance that. You want to intensify that emotion so it can be a generalized thing and before you know it, I almost missed that bitch. [Laughs] Through writing this song, you know? She’s the last person I ever wanted to see, but you’re still writing a song and you start feeling like you were actually in love. When you’ve written five hundred or seven hundred fifty songs, obviously, they can’t all mean something to you. But that’s what I have to do. I have to write the lyrics and I have to make them clever and they have to roll off the tongue. They have to sing right and sound right, vowels and syllables and such, and so you tell stories. Just like a book writer. Some of it’s fiction. Like little plays or little stories that you’re telling.

MM: I know Nelson did two of your songs on their Imaginator album and I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but The Wildhearts covered “Time To Let You Go” about twenty years ago as a B-side to their noise rock sort of album called Endless, Nameless. Did you ever hear that one?

DV: I did. I did hear it and that’s what turned me onto The Wildhearts. Number one, you can tell they’ve got good taste in music. Cutting my stuff. [Laughs] And, number two, when I heard it, I actually liked it better than my version. I am a punk and I have that really rebellious, aggressive side, but it doesn’t really fit what I do. I’ve tried so hard and to hear them do their version of it, it’s like they pulled it right out of my soul. I loved it. I don’t know about the Nelson stuff so much, you know. [Laughs]

MM: Gotcha. Have any other artists ever covered your songs that you know of?

DV: Yeah, yeah. A lot of it escapes me right now. But some artists – like hip-hop artists –they take a chorus or something and they build around it. I’ve heard “Right By Your Side.” I’ve heard “Innocence.” There’s some tribute albums to us. There’s a bunch of stuff out there. I really don’t pay much attention. I don’t listen to too much music. I kind of watch Netflix and watch TV and stuff like that.

MM: What have been some of your favorite series on Netflix these days?

DV: Oh my goodness. Well, I’m catching up because I missed a lot of the stuff because I was busy or too busy trying not to do anything. I watch whatever there is and I binge it until it’s over because that’s how I am. I’m an addict. Right now what I’m into, and I know it will sound stupid, is South Park. I love South Park. It’s so clever and there’s nobody safe there.

MM: You mentioned “Innocence” and I have to tell you when Vikki Foxx was touring with Vince Neil, I talked to him for quite a while outside the tour bus and the guy kept telling me lies. He told me, for example, that he wrote “Innocence” and half of the Animals album and didn’t get credit for it. Which I knew was bullshit, you know? Was that typical for him to go around saying crap like that?

DV: [Laughs] Vik Foxx, as good as he was, and as pretty as he is, and as good a showman, he slithered under the door into my life and slithered back out of it. [Laughs] That’s all I gotta say. And, obviously, he didn’t write anything. Not a thing. I tried writing a song with him and what a piece of shit that was. You can ask anybody he’s worked with what the deal is with that, you know? He’s got to steal. All the drums and mics and all that stuff, but whatever. I let the music do the talking.

MM: During the years when you weren’t doing Enuff Z’Nuff as actively, were you ever asked to join any other band like, say, Skid Row or Warrant, for example?

DV: [Laughs] Not really. There’s been some other things that I’ve been asked to join, but those bands? No. All those bands thought I was a pretty big asshole and don’t want anything to do with me. That’s also because of my tastes in music and stuff like that. My inspirations all came from something far greater than those bands. Eventually, when you tour with them and you meet them and get to know them as people, you have a lot more respect for them and the band. They’re just out there trying to do what I’m trying to do. Jani Lane, who was a good friend, he told me a secret. He said there’s writing stuff that you love and there’s writing stuff that you can make money with. And he did that, but he hated those songs. He was embarrassed by “Cherry Pie.” He hated all that stuff. And he was miserable and he ended up drinking himself to death in a little hotel room.

MM: He was actually the only other person on my bucket list that I wanted to interview before I die, but, unfortunately, I didn’t get to do it.

DV: I don’t think he would’ve been a very good interview toward the end. But my voice is so unique, and so you associate it with my writing, and the only reason to get me in a band would be for my writing and my voice. And that’s basically [more like] they would be joining me. The ones that don’t think I’m a big jag off probably would’ve, but that’s probably never crossed anyone’s mind. To get me in their band. I was hell on wheels.

MM: You did “Instant Karma” as a bonus track for the new album and you did “Jealous Guy” on Brothers so I was wondering if you ever thought about doing a John Lennon or John Lennon and The Beatles type of tribute album?

DV: You know, it’s funny you should say that right now because I’m out with a very dear friend – he started out as a fan and became a very dear friend – and I spent the summer here. It ends today. He’s bringing me home today. He always had a dream and it didn’t happen because he went and got married and did the right thing. So, I figured the least I could do is show him how to put a song together. He started doing old classics, old standards, and before you know it we’ve got a record worth of it and they sound really, really good. The actual sonic quality, they’re not mixed properly because I couldn’t mix chocolate milk, you know? [Both laugh] But the tracks are there. I’m belting the shit out. There are a couple of Beatles songs. There’s Del Shannon’s “Runaway.” We just started “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 yesterday. It’s called The St Joe County Dope Whores.

MM: There you go.

DV: We’re having an issue keeping stuff up, but you can check it out. There are two songs up on Youtube right now. I think one of them is “Runaway” and the other one is “Bad Boy” by The Beatles. I don’t know who actually wrote it, but it’s a really, really good version. Check it out.

MM: I will. Definitely. Have you ever met anyone from The Beatles?

DV: I did meet Ringo once and Paul, I was supposed to meet and the night of his concert I went to, he slipped and fell on stage or something. So, he was not seeing anybody. I know if anybody met me, they’d probably be disillusioned. There goes half the mystery. But I didn’t get a chance. I just met Ringo. He was very cool. They’re awesome. Those guys are magical human beings. God aligned the stars for The Beatles. The moon and the stars lined up in a perfect thing with George Martin and everything with those guys together. That was just a once in a lifetime thing that will never happen again [with] the state of the world and music these days.

MM: This might be an odd question, but since they were also inspired by The Beatles, I was curious what you thought about the band Oasis?

DV: Well, obviously, I loved Oasis. I thought they were great. They were rough around the edges, especially the singer. Basically, like I was. But they were a gang that grew up together so it all made sense. They worked together. Not working but rubbing against each other, they worked together. I thought they had great ideas. There’s a lot of really good songs. I always liked them. It’s a shame they’re not playing. I always wished I would’ve done that. That’s not an odd question. You’re asking great questions. You can ask me anything you want.

RANDOM QUESTIONS:

MM: When you’re depressed, do you tend to listen to depressing songs that provide companionship at the time or do you listen to happy stuff to cheer yourself up?

DV: When I’m depressed? Like I said, I really don’t listen to anything basically except what I’ve got to do. And I sometimes listen to my back stuff to feel better when I’m feeling pretty down on myself. I’ll say, well, you did deliver. What I’ll do when I’m depressed is write one instead of listen to one. And you kind of get it out that way. You vent it that way. You’re venting it to a lot of people and you also use your pain and depression and stuff as a good thing. You spin it and use it to be able to connect and empathize with other people who are going through the same thing. When you’re depressed and you’re down, you feel like you’re the only one it’s happening to. But that’s not true. So many people struggle with depression. I’m a manic depressive, bipolar. Functional autism. I have ADHD. I mean, you name it, I’ve got it. So, it’ll come in swings. But that’s what I do. That’s what I do from everything. I write a song.

MM: Who are your favorite lyric writers?

DV: Oh, man, I think the best ones are probably Elvis Costello and Squeeze. The Beatles wrote really smart lyrics. Aerosmith. When Tyler sits down to really send a message he’s great. Great artists write the lyrics as part of their job and get better at it. There’s a lot of great writers. A lot of great lyricists. I think I’m becoming competent at it. God knows I’ve written enough of them, but I’d say Elvis Costello. Squeeze. Led Zeppelin wrote some cool lyrics. Rush. Rush wrote some intense lyrics. They’re one of the first heavy bands that I got into. The 2112 record. But [I’d say] the same people anybody would think are prolific. As long as I can understand what the hell they’re talking about. [Both laugh]

MM: If the world was going to end in an hour and you only had time to listen to one more album before you die, which would it be?

DV: I think if the world was gonna end in one hour I’d be busy doing some other things besides listening to an album.

MM: OK. [Both laugh]

DV: I’d take a little peek back at all the things I seem to have enjoyed so much. I’d probably die with my pants down. [Both laugh] High as hell. [Both laugh]

MM: If you could resurrect any one musician from the dead and they’d be happy to be back and make new music, who would you bring back?

DV: Geez, I have passed away a few times and the experience I had was so, so overwhelming that I couldn’t even put it into words. Where we go is just… We’re energy. And energy doesn’t die. So, I wouldn’t do that to any of those guys. I wouldn’t wish that. That’s the goal, where they’re at. They would hate my guts if I tried to bring one of them back, but I’d say probably Lennon.

MM: If someone was giving you a million dollars to give to charity and it all had to go to the same charity or cause, which would you give it to?

DV: Well, it used to be me. [Both laugh] I would keep it. [Both laugh] Anything that I, at the time, could see it actually helping. There are so many things out there. Like with “Instant Karma,” I chose anti-bullying because there’s not really much awareness. You don’t hear much about it. One third of all youth deaths in the world – at least in the United States – are suicide and half of those are from being bullied. And you can see, there’s nine-year-old kids and ten-year-old kids that are killing themselves. My nephew’s eleven and I don’t think he even knows the meaning of it. He walks around saying that stuff just to get a rise out of people. He’d never even think about it. So, I would go with whatever I could possibly do. Because if I had a million dollars, I would definitely give three quarters of it away and save the rest of it for my family. I would just do that to help because that’s what it’s about. That’s what life is all about. Connectivity and not being greedy.

MM: I’ll ask you one last question. What is one question you always wish interviewers would ask but they never do and how would you answer it?

DV: That’s a great question. Let me think about that for a second. A question interviewers would ask… Probably, do I believe in God? I mean, I don’t know if people would believe me but I sure would like to take the experience that I had and put it into some other people’s heads and hearts. It would change everything so drastically for them. Everything changed for me after that. I lost my fear of death. I lost my sorrow and pain when I lose someone. All of that stuff. If it was a question they asked me, it depends on if anybody would listen to the answer.

MM: How long were you down for when you died and that happened?

DV: Well, one time I drowned. It seemed like it was a lot longer than it was. There was a trip out that was starting. And then there was a trip back. And we don’t go up. We go out. We go out and become like energy [that] kind of spreads out and starts to be all part of something else. So, with the drowning, I woke up obviously naked on the side of a golf course. It was questionable circumstances that happened, but I don’t know how long that was. But I woke up in morgue one time. They were toe-tagging me in the morgue. Thank God they didn’t cremate me already. Or do the autopsy. But, yeah, that was nothing. When I woke up I was trying to recap. Uh-oh, what did I do? Where was I at? Where am I at now? I was like, you sons of bitches, you already fucking put me in the damn morgue?

MM: That must have been terrifying. Waking up there.

DV: Not really. That’s not something that surprises me. [Both laugh] I wasn’t surprised. It would’ve been terrible if they got to the next part. They were going down that process. I would’ve been put in a freezer first. Next comes the let’s cut him open. It says penis on my organ donor thing on the back of my ID. I’d think I’m funny until they’d be whopping that off. They’d be giving that to some poor guy. [Laughs]

Special thanks to Donnie Vie for being such a pleasure to interview and to Hannah Wolfram of Chipster PR & Consulting, Inc. for hooking us up!

Donnie Vie’s new album, Beautiful Things, is out now via Deko Music and we give it an A+ with ***** and two thumbs up.

Buy Beautiful Things on CD from Amazon

Buy Beautiful Things on vinyl from Amazon

Guests on Beautiful Things include:

Paul Gilbert, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., Matt Walker, Ed Breckenfeld, Jonny Polonsky, Casey McDonough, Phil Angotti, Jay O’Rourke, Alton Smith, Mike LaPond, John Monaco

Connect with Donnie Vie:

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Official Site

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Written by

Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

5 Comments to “ALL THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS: AN INTERVIEW WITH DONNIE VIE”

  1. Jack says:

    What a great, great interview!

  2. Roger says:

    Best interview with Donnie I’ve read so far this cycle.

  3. LoveLoveRachelle says:

    What the above two commenters said for sure! Thanks for this and I hope you interview him again sometime. Peace!!!!!

  4. Adir says:

    Man what a great read. Donnie is the best, and this interview was super-well-done.

  5. OkyDoky says:

    It makes me sad that Chip went behind Donnie’s back and trademarked the name. Donnie wrote almost every song entirely by himself and was the singer so the name should belong to him if you ask me.

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