After making it through the grueling audition process on Making the Band 4, Donnie Klang was the first contestant in the show’s history to be awarded a solo record deal instead of becoming part of a group. Donnie took some time to chat with MTV Reality World about his upcoming album, the new season of Making the Band, his friendship with Diddy, and his brief romance with Danity Kane’s Aubrey O’Day.
MTV Reality World: Tell me how you initially found out about making the band and what your initial audition process was like.
Donnie: When I first found out, I actually, I wasn’t even going to go on the audition because I had been singing a group for about eight or nine years before that and we had broken up. We had deals on the table, we were signed with different managers, and we had gotten so close so many times, but we just got our hearts broken so many times. Then I auditioned for American Idol twice and didn’t make it and just a bunch of stuff that basically broke my heart as far as music goes. I wasn’t even going to go on the audition because I didn’t want to get let down again. What happened was somebody entered my MySpace into a contest where I could cut the line at auditions. I won that contest so I was like, you know, I might as well go. My family was telling me to go and stuff. I went and then basically after that it was like audition after audition and it felt like a dream ever since that day.
That’s awesome. As fans of the show know, you’re the first solo artist to come through Making The Band. When you found out that you weren’t going to be a part of Day 26 and instead would be offered a solo contract, what was going through your head?
Well, first and foremost, it was just a relief to finally get signed. That finale was crazy. It was live; we had Times Square packed out. I found out there were like 60 million people watching. That night was the first night that I ever played piano live for anybody so it was a very emotional, roller coaster night that was up and down. And then, when I thought I was cut and then I found out I made it, my parents were there and stuff, it was a crazy night. I feel like that it worked out better that I got signed as a solo just because it fits, like Day26, I feel it’s perfect the way they are and I think I’m better off as a solo artist.
What’s it like behind the scenes preparing for touring and practicing and everything?
Behind the scenes, it’s rough, especially working for somebody like Diddy. He’s a perfectionist, not only just the media stuff but when it comes to the live shows, he turns it up a notch. It’s rough; it’s a lot of hours of rehearsing. But the cool thing is Making the Band kind of gives fans a glimpse into what it’s like. They get to see rehearsals and behind the scenes and Diddy coming in and yelling at us. It’s really not for TV; it’s real, like he’s coming in and yelling at us like even when the cameras leave, he’s still going off. So it’s cool that the fans get to see first hand like what’s going on.
So with Diddy, when the cameras are off, is he still around just as often, and how much time do you really get to work with him?
Yeah, he’s basically like any other boss. It’s kind of different for me because at this point, we are friends, like we’re cool now. Once we did the song together, we kind of just like starting getting along. We started going out to clubs and stuff, which is crazy that I’m going out and partying with Diddy. It’s weird to like really actually say that and think about what I’m saying. Me and him kind of vibe more than I guess he does with the groups because it’s tougher to get along with different personalities and stuff. And it’s way easier for me to just like, Diddy I’m going to come by, could I use your studio, whatever. So, we are cool at this point, but he’s still the boss and when it comes down to getting to work, he still as tough as he was from day one.
Do you spend a lot of time with Day26 and Danity Kane outside filming the show? Are you guys all friends?
We’re all friends. Now that Aubrey is doing Hairspray, she’s been in New York and I’m from New York so I get to see her once in a while. Then just a lot of stuff is based out of New York so when everybody comes through, they’re like you know, we’re in the City, come by and let’s go out or whatever. So it’s like I get to see everybody once in while but for the most part, we really only see each other on the show or when we’re doing shows together. Besides that, I’ve been out on the road a lot doing like radio promo stuff. It’s a catch-22 being a solo artist because half the time you are by yourself but then sometimes I get to meet up with them, so it gets rough.
Speaking of Aubrey… there was some drama between you guys last season. How is everything now?
Well, we made up. We’ve already filmed a whole new season; it premiered last night. So, it’s on Tuesday nights now; that’s a new night. We’re cool; we get along good. We did TRL together yesterday. And like I said, she’s in New York now so we’ve been more in touch than we were in the past. It’s really like…we all got so close. To me the feeling is the same way Bad Boy was like ten years ago, how they had 112, Diddy, Faith Evans, Biggie Smalls and it had that kind of like family feel. It’s kind of giving me that feeling that we have that kind of, like if we take the music industry by storm together, then we’re way more successful than if we take it separately. So we’re just close, we’re like family.
When you guys are filming, what footage that doesn’t actually make the show would fans be most surprised to know about?
There were a lot of times we played basketball and I was kicking butt, and they never showed any of it. I’m really upset about that. But, I think on this new season, I was like please show us playing basketball bcause we had all this footage of like…I was really whooping people’s butt and they weren’t showing anything. So, that was a rough spot. I think people would be surprised to see that because I can actually dunk, so I was trying to show off for America. (laughs)
I understand you have a new album coming out. When is it released and what can we expect?
It’s called Just a Rolling Stone and it’s being released September 2, finally. I did the single, Take You There featuring Diddy. It’s crazy; it’s on YouTube now. It’s starting to get played on MTV and stuff. Besides that, we got songs, I worked with the producer, Seven, who, if you watch Making The Band, he’s a very crazy producer. His vibe in the studio is very crazy but his music is hot so we have a bunch of hot songs from him. I worked with Brian Michael Cox. I worked with The Dream; he’s all over the place right now. We worked with just a line of hit producers. I wanted to get involved with producers that are up and coming because those are the ones that have the most drive and they’ll put the most into their music because they still have so much fire behind it. We reached out and said, okay, anybody who has music, send it in; they sent it in and I was able to write on every track. It was a great experience.
When the album comes out, you’ll have to send us a copy so we can have a contest for the fans.
Yeah, absolutely. We’ll send a couple of copies.
That would be great! One last question for you, the new season just started, what kind of sneak preview can you give us? What do fans have to look forward to this season?
Well, aside from the drama stuff – I was trying to stay out of the drama this season and keep it more about the music, especially since I have an album coming out and everything. I just want to stay clear of that and make it more about music. The fans get to see us go on the road and go on tour. You know, like the stuff behind the scenes, us going back to the hotel, at the parties some of the nights and then we were in Vegas for five days.
Oh, I can only imagine.
Yeah. What happens in Vegas is on this season of Making the Band.
It didn’t stay in Vegas?
No, not at all. We had a really good time and there is definitely a good amount of drama, as much as I tried to stay out of it.
You can see Donnie, Danity Kane and Day26 on the new season of Making the Band 4 on Tuesday nights at 9 pm ET/PT.
Donnie’s album, Just a Rolling Stone, will be available from Bad Boy Entertainment on Tuesday, September 2.