Exposed Vocals interviews Donnie Young

Donnie has had a long love of music dating back to singing in high school occasionally with a local cover band and learning some chords on his dad’s twelve string yamaha. He was interested in the guitar at an early age, and really started playing with friends in college at Memphis State University. Memphis Tennessee is where he gets his roots in Blues, Country, and of course Rock n Roll. Each of these styles show up in his original work as well as some of the special arrangements he does of popular rock and pop songs. In the late 90’s he helped start an acoustic Christmas caroling band along with fellow TrainWreck founder Bear Meiring. After a move to Colorado and several years of mixing Christmas tunes with rock and playing Christmas parties, ‘The Band’ started to take shape and were offered to play other parties. In 2006 the six members of TrainWreck embarked on a magical musical journey that gave Donnie the basis for most of his musical endeavors. Since Donnie has been splitting time between Colorado and Mexico since 2010 the band plays only occasionally these days .

Donnie has been playing in the Mayan Riviera since 2011 – at first collaborating with other musicians and later learning to play solo and still be engaging enough to fill a bar. He also DJ’d and hosted karaoke for a few years to pay the bills while the guitar act was taking shape. Donnie brings a wide variety of musical styles to his solo act. Being a singer/songwriter he is influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Roger Clyne among others. In 2015 he made the switch to primarily playing solo and has been regularly playing resorts in the Playa del Carmen area as well as the usual bar gigs. He released a few original single demo tracks in 2015 and has just released a debut studio album in September 2016. The album has 8 original tracks and 2 cover songs including country, folk, rock, blues, and funk.
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Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist?

Donnie Young: I grew up in a small town in Tennessee between Nashville and Memphis. I was raised on a farm and both of my parents played guitar and were really into John Denver – I guess that got me started in music. I picked up the guitar in college but it was always a hobby until some friends got together and started a cover band in Denver, CO around 2004. After that I started writing a bit and for the last 3 years I have been playing solo and writing more and decided to do an album.


Exposed Vocals: How did you come up with that name? What was your inspiration behind it?


Donnie Young: Well when I play solo I use my given name, so I suppose you are talking about our band name ‘TrainWreck’. That just kinda popped out one day, we didn’t know how to finish songs well so we usually spen them up until they wrecked. We played a Mexican themed party and called ourselves ‘Mexican TrainWreck’ – and the second half of the name just stuck.

Exposed Vocals: What do you think about online music sharing? Do you ever give your music away for free? Why?

Donnie Young: This is my first release, so I haven’t shared much onlin to this point, but I have been giving away music at my shows and on Youtube for several years. I think people need to hear you, and sometimes that means you have to give away your music to create a following. Obviously I would rather get paid, but I think its just something you have to do in this business.


Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?

Donnie Young: Keep trying. I spent so many nights going to bars and watching other bands to see what we need to do  and to feel out places to play. Then you have to convince them to let you play – sometimes that takes a lot of work. If you put your time in you will get gigs. I don’t mind playing for free the first time because I know I will be asked back – but that takes confidence and knowing your crowd/situation.


Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that?


Donnie Young: Ha – who doesn’t? I just saw the Rolling Stones last week and Keith Richards stopped playing and looked around confused and Ronnie Wood told him something then he started playing again – it happens to everyone. When I am playing with the band its not too bad because there is a lot going on and you know you can drop out for a second and catch back up. But when you are playing solo, you are exposed. You need to be on with you guitar and vocals or the crowd will know. But after a few hundred gigs you also realize that you are going to make mistakes, and to get back on track as quickly as possible. It used to bother me to the point that I would get mad and stressed out, now I just keep playing – and SMILE!


Exposed Vocals: Do you tour? Anything interesting happen on tour that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about?

Donnie Young: I don’t really tour, I play in Denver Colorado during the Summer months and in the Playa del Carmen Mexico area in the winter months. I have had some fun jamming with some other great musicians on stage, but no one that you would have heard of.


Exposed Vocals: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?

Donnie Young: Inspiration can come from anywhere. A t-shirt, a poster, an observation. My process is once I have an idea I try to come up with a beat and a melody line. The song can take turns directionally when you think about the tempo and what kind of bass line you are going to use.  I usually play around with it on the acoustic guitar until it feel right, then other instruments (horns, keys, mandolin etc) usually pop into my head – that’s when I know I have a song and not just an idea.

Exposed Vocals: Do you have a band website? What online platforms do you use to share your music?


Donnie Young: I have a personal website – I also use Youtube, Reverb Nation, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and CDBaby to get my music out there. I try to direst most people to the website where i have schedules, pics, videos, news, and all of my music. Of courser there are a lot more videos on youtube – mostly live cover songs. Through CDBaby distribution my music is also on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and many other platforms.

Exposed Vocals: What are some really embarrassing songs that we might find on your mp3 player?


Donnie Young: Well I guess embarrassing would depend on who it is played for. I know that there is one particular Blink182 song that I’m sure you can’t print the title that might be a little embarrassing. I have everything on my ipod from Frank Sinatra to Hank Williams Jr., to Run DMC, to Beyonce, to Kidd Rock. And a lot of others in between.

Exposed Vocals: If you were given half a million dollars and a year off, what would you do? How would you spend it?

Donnie Young: Wow, that’s a good one. I would probably travel a lot. If I had a whole year off I would probably do something charitable like help build houses in a third world country for a little while, but otherwise travel the world and look for material for new songs.

Exposed Vocals: Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now?

Donnie Young: The only plans right now are to get back down to Mexico for the Winter and line up gigs, and then start working on writing new songs. I hope to write enough material for another album this Winter and then get it recorded back in Denver next Spring.

Exposed Vocals: How do you find ways to promote your music? What works best for you?


Donnie Young: Well, up to this point it has been largely word of mouth, playing live (a lot) and Facebook. I am starting to use some other platforms as I mentioned before like Youtube, Soundcloud, and Reverb Nation, but I am pretty new to most of that.

Exposed Vocals: If you could perform anywhere and with any artists (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? Why?

Donnie Young: That’s a tough one. Can I give you a couple of answers? I could go a lot of different ways here. Lets start with venue is not important. If I could perform a duet with another acoustic guitar player it would probably be Bob Dylan because I love his music and I actually think I can sing better than he can so I might be useful. To play with a band There are so many, but It would be really hard to beat the Rolling Stones. For a more modern act that would be nice to collaborate with, I think Zac Brown would be a lot of fun to jam with – duet or with the whole band.


Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?


Donnie Young: Well as I mentioned before, I will get to work pretty soon on writing a new album. It might even come out as a couple of EPs depending on what type of songs I get down. The first album was kin of all over the place, and I would like to group some songs into categories going forward. I will br writting some Beachy songs and some Rock songs, and we’ll see what else pops up.


Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

Donnie Young: Probably sailing. I am still learning, but I really enjoy the ocean.

Exposed Vocals: Do you remember buying your first album? Who was it? What was going through your head?

Donnie Young: I do. Huey Lewis and the News – FORE. it was actually a cassette tape. I was in high school and more into pop at the time, my interest into classic rock came more in the college years.


Exposed Vocals: How do you juggle the rest of your responsibilities while trying to stay ahead in your music life?

Donnie Young: Its difficult. I still work other jobs to keep enough cash to keep the dream going. And the there is the fact that playing live often enough to make a living really gets in the way of life, but there are worse things that I could be doing so I guess I should count my blessings.


Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in the next year or so?

Donnie Young: Hopefully a few new albums and some new venues and possibly a tour or at least expanding the areas that I play. I would like to play at some festivals as well, that’s something I want to work on.