Donnie Klang: Ten Minutes to Save the World

With everyone caught up in the excitement of American Idol, some might forget that before Fox’s reality competition, there was Making the Band. Even before Diddy got involved, the focus of the show was always on creating superstar groups and not individual artists. But in the most recent competition, Donnie Klang broke the mold by becoming the show’s first solo project. Always looking for the next big thing, Diddy saw that even though Donnie wasn’t right for the group he formed that year, he couldn’t let all of those screaming girls go to waste. Donnie was given a contract on Bad Boy and sent to Florida with Danity Kane and Day 26 to work on his album and grow as an artist.Like Idol, not every artist who came up through Making the Band went on to much success (Dylan, anyone?) and at first, it seemed like Donnie was off to a shaky start. While recording, he had trouble getting the attention he needed in a house with ten other singers. In addition, it took some time for Donnie to figure out just what he wanted to show us. He missed the boat and wasn’t able to get his album out this Spring with the others. But now, he’s ready to take advantage of the extra time and come back to prove that Diddy chose him for a reason. Donnie has spent his whole life learning to sing, dance, act and answer awkward interview questions about his personal life, so he’s not about to let all that training go unused. We talk to Donnie as he prepares to release his album Just a Rolling Stone on August 19th, hit the road for the Making the Band Tour, and film his last season of the current class of the show.AllHipHop.com Alternatives: With you being such a big fan of Bad Boy before Making the Band, what was it like to hear Diddy tell you that he wanted to be on your first single just because he liked the song? Donnie: Actually, at first he wanted the whole song for himself to put on his album coming out, but we talked about it and he was like “alright, I’ll do a sixteen on it.” It was crazy to be in the studio working with him. He’s a veteran and a huge legend, and I’m right there in the studio working with him.AHHA: Does he still think you can’t dance?Donnie: [laughs] No, but we’re having rehearsal for the tour right now, and I had two days where we just went in and he broke me down. I just wanted to prove him wrong, and the next time he saw me he was like, “Okay, you look a little better,” but now the first show is in less than a week and I’m at the point now where I feel like I’m killing it. He pushes you to that level where you wanna prove him wrong like, “A’ight, Diddy, you think I can’t dance? Check this out.” Even if he doesn’t mean it, he’ll say something to break you down just to make you work harder.AHHA: Does it bother you that you didn’t make the original plan to be part of the Spring Danity Kane/Day 26 release schedule? Donnie: I definitely feel like it’s better. We’re filming the new season of Making the Band and we’re going on tour. [The new season] is gonna air in August, and my album comes out August 19th so it’s like a perfect setup. If I had come out with Day 26 and Danity Kane, I possibly would’ve got lost in the crowd, so now it’s all on me. AHHA: In retrospect, do you think you really would’ve fit into what Day 26 eventually became anyway?Donnie: Looking back…actually, no. I think if I was with them, it might have taken the group in a different direction. But even with me finding myself as a solo artist, I didn’t always know what direction I was gonna go in. The phrase “Pop R&B” is very broad. I was just trying to find me because, well, there are people that I’m starting to get compared to (which is kinda accurate), so for the most part, I just wanted to create something fresh so that when I put the album out, people can hear that I did something different with it.  AHHA: At the end of Making the Band II, Puff basically got fed up with Da Band and broke them up. He was supposedly going to release solo projects from some of the members, but that never really happened either. What are you going to do to make sure that you don’t end up in the Bad Boy graveyard with them?Donnie: It’s really just about your own work ethic and how bad you want it. A lot of people say “you got your deal, you finally made it,” but that’s really not true. It’s just the beginning of all the work it’s gonna be. It’s tough, but you gotta get the right management and make sure everything’s right on the business end so you can just concentrate on making hot music and getting that live performance together. Beyond that, I really want to get into movies, TV and possibly some modeling to really make a brand out of myself.AHHA: Obviously, being on reality TV helps with that because fans get a lot of exposure to you, but that also means your personal life is open to the world…how’s it going with Aubrey?Donnie: Oh boy… well, you know, I’m there from Making the Band and she’s the outgoing one from Danity Kane so we just kinda came together. Yeah, we were kinda trickin’ each other out for the first couple of days and it was weird at first, but then we went on the date. AHHA: Yeah, the date…Donnie: The whole thing blew up because she thought I went on a second date [after I dropped her off] but just to clarify that, I didn’t go on a second date. I was just chillin’ with a few guys and a few girls in like, a bar with a lounge type situation. We fought, we made up, we got close again, but at this point, we’re just friends. That’s good though because I like being on the road with her. She’s fun to be around and she likes to have a good time so it’s cool.AHHA: Since you’re obviously being positioned for the “ladies man/sex symbol” image, is it good for business to have your female fans see you on TV kickin’ it with Aubarella?Donnie: Nah, I think it’s cool. [Danity Kane] has a broad fan base especially with females, so I wanna reach out to them too.  It’s actually good for them to see me in those situations. I grew up in a single parent household with my mom, and then my dad got remarried and I’ve got three sisters so I’ve grown up respecting women treating ladies right. I just want everyone to see that. That’s why I was so nervous like, when Aubrey thought I was going behind her back because I’m not that kind of guy at all. I think you can see who I am though and that’s the good part. The fans get to see us from day one and see us working and in the studio and rehearing so the really know us.AHHA: We saw on the show that you were working with Channel 7 for most of your early songs. Will he be doing pretty much the whole thing or are you going to mix it up with some other producers?Donnie: We’re mixing it up. [Channel] 7’s gonna kinda lead the overall project, but the lead single, “Take You There” is produced by the Soul Diggaz. I got to write a lot plus I’m working with Mario Winans, Brian Cox, Danja and The Clutch to get a diversified sound. Still, I’m taking what I learned with 7 to carry that into all the other songs and to keep it all in the same lane. I’m looking for something that’s big and different that doesn’t sound like a first album and more like a second or third album instead.AHHA: Kanye set the bar pretty high with the Glow in the Dark Tour and Puff has actually gone on public record saying that the show changed his life. Now that expectations are even higher, what are you, Day 26 and Danity Kane going to be doing to try to compete with that level of energy and excitement?Donnie: Since we do have a TV show, it’s kinda like our fans already know us and know who we are. We’re doing a lot of the smaller venues so it’ll feel more like we’re chillin’ with out fans and feeding off of that. There’s also a lot of energy in our competition [between the groups] because we’re all trying to be the best on the show. I’m opening and I’ve got ten minutes, so I really wanna make it hard for the next group to step on stage.

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