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Don "Hollywood" Yates Interview from Today's Country Magazine
Official Don "Hollywood" Yates Website
Don "Hollywood" Yates Myspace
Don "Hollywood" Yates Showcase Review
1. A lot of people will recognize you from your time spent on American Gladiators as "Wolf." How do you feel your time on that show is going to help you the most as you dive into country music?
It opened up a huge fan base for me. I’ve got worldwide recognition from that show. We were the #1 show on TV and now we’re in 91 countries as well. I was just over in Italy and Korea and people were recognizing me over there, so I think that’s what will help the most from that show. It put my face out there.
2. As we said, you are taking the plunge into country music, which may surprise some people out there. Can you fill people in on what made you decide to make this career move now?
I’ve sung all my life. I started as a singer when I was seven years old singing in my grandfather’s nightclubs. I was an Elvis impersonator and stuff like that. Through the years I sort of just dabbled in it, as I was involved with all of my athletics knowing that it would eventually come back to singing. I just wanted to get all the beating the body up out of the way first and then use my voice once that was gone and my body is screaming out now go back to singing because we’re not going to hold up much longer.
3. What is it about the country music scene that attracted you to it?
It’s real. It’s everything that everybody lives. It’s just something that hits the heart deeper and means more to people. It’s just real life.
4. What is country music to you?
A good country song is a great story and I am all about stories; telling stories, living stories, etc…
5. You are really just starting to introduce your music to people so for those that haven't heard it yet, what can they expect from it?
They can expect an outlaw country, southern rock, mixed with the older and new so it will be some of the Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, mixed with Aerosmith. So it is going to have a little bit of an edge to it, but it is going to have the same old morals and same type of stories.
6. Which one of your songs is the one that you feel is a must hear for people to understand what your music is all about and why?
The one that I started with is called “Put Me In The Ground.” It is basically saying that there are a lot of changes happening in this world and I am going to let some of those go by, but there’s going to come a point where I’m going to draw the line and get in your face because if you mess with me or my family I’m going to put you in the dirt.
7. When people come to see you live what can they expect from your performance?
Once I get the backing to do it the way I want to do it they are going to see something that very few country artists have ever done. It’s going to be a stage show and it will be all about entertainment. I am a larger than life character and I’ve shown that with Wolf, and the rodeo persona when I was a rodeo clown and bullfighter. I love stage shows. I went and saw Michael Jackson’s This Is It. That was going to be a phenomenal stage show. Pink puts on a phenomenal stage show. Tina Turner I saw twice this year. They put on these incredible stage shows that are so entertaining. Garth used to be the man when it came to entertainment and I want to surpass that. I want to have all kinds of stuff going on. I want video. You might find me swinging out of the rafters or jumping out of a building.
8. Tonight you are showcasing in front of the music industry here at 3rd and Lindsley. How important is a showcase like this one for advancing your career?
This is huge for advancing my career. Everybody in the industry has heard that I was wanting to do music and I have had people like Shy Blakeman, Keith Anderson, Randy Houser, throwing me songs and helping me out. Even the labels have heard that I was wanting to do it so this is huge for me and hopefully we can get some of the labels out here tonight to see that I am legitimate. I’m not just a gimmick that is coming up and howling or anything. I am actually singing.
9. With so many artists in Nashville doing showcases like this one, what will make this one stand out amongst the pack?
I think I’m a larger than life character. I have a voice, and I hate to talk about my own voice, but it is a very powerful, very booming voice. I do have a lot of range. I like to have fun. I have never been out before to someone else’s showcase and it kind of made me a little nervous because I hadn’t seen what they do at one of these and then I was like it doesn’t matter what they do I have to do what I do and that’s entertain. I have been an entertainer for my entire life.
10. With so much experience across the board in the entertainment industry, what advice can you offer someone that is looking to break into it?
If you want to be in it find what you want and just stick to your guns. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do or discourage you. Don’t let them tell you that this is the way Nashville works or this is the way Hollywood works. I have heard that so many times that it makes me sick. My manager at one point said to me that Hollywood doesn’t work like that, and I said back “really, because my name is Hollywood and that’s how I work, so I guess Hollywood does work like that.” I say things sometimes that my manager doesn’t necessarily think should be said out loud, but I was always brought up with you say what you mean and you mean what you say. If you shake a man’s hand and look him in the eye; your word is your bond. If I don’t like something I am going to say I don’t like it because if you don’t want to help me out someone else will. I just say stick to your guns, believe in your dreams, and believe in yourself, then push push push.