Q&A with DONOVAN LEITCH – Talks AXS TV Series BREAKING BAND, Go-Go’s Inspired Musical “Head Over Heels” with GWYNETH PALTROW, And His Band ROYAL MACHINES!
Posted On 22 Jan 2016
Tag: #TCA16, #TCAs2016, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Andie Case, AXS TV, AXS Tv PR, AXSTV, AXSTV.com, Belinda Carlisle, Ben Lee, Billy Idol, California, Camp Freddy, Cheap Trick, Dave Navarro, Donovan, Donovan Leitch, Electus, Enid Karl, Go-Go's, Gwyneth Paltrow, Head over Heels, Hollywood, Insurgent Media, io/LA, Ione Skye, Jane's Addiction, John Cusack, Langham Hotel, London, Maker Studios, Mark McGrath, Microsoft, Moby, MTV, MTV Networks, Myspace, New York, Ozzy Osbourne, Pasadena, Red Hot Chili Peppers, RHCP, Robin Zander, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Royal Machines, Runaground, Santa Cruz, Scott Weiland, Sebastian Bach, Set The Charge, Sick of Sarah, SKID ROW, Stick Figure, Sugar Ray, TCA's 2016, TCAs, TCAs Winter Tour, TCAs Winter Tour 2016, Television Critics Association, The Go-Go's, Tommy Lee, Twitter, Vogue, Vogue.com, YouTube
DONOVAN LEITCH has spent his entire life in the entertainment industry. Despite being born in London, he was raised in Hollywood, California, by his American mother, model Enid Karl, after she divorced his Scottish father, the legendary psychedelic-folk singer/songwriter DONOVAN.
He is also the older brother of actress Ione Skye (married to musician Ben Lee), who played the object of John Cusack’s desires in the 1980s classic Say Anything. Growing up in the heart of Hollywood, Leitch started his acting career as a teenager. He then moved to New York to pursue a career as a musician, where he also worked for 10 years in the fashion industry. Setting his sights on becoming a producer, he has made six feature documentary films.
Leitch has had development deals at MTV Networks, Electus, and Maker Studios, and has created and produced web content for Microsoft, YouTube, Vogue.com, and MySpace. He is also the co-founder of Hollywood’s first co-work/incubator space, io/LA.
In 2002, Leitch co-founded the All-Star rock ‘n’ roll cover band Camp Freddy (now called Royal Machines), serving as the super-group’s lead singer. ROYAL MACHINES has played over 200 shows over the last 12 years, and has featured many of today’s leading rock stars including Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Dave Navarro, Tommy Lee and the late Scott Weiland.
Donovan is currently producing a musical called Head Over Heels, with actress Gwyneth Paltrow, based on the music of The Go-Go’s; and is a development executive at Insurgent Media, as well as host of AXS TV’s BREAKING BAND.
AXS TV’s six-episode original music series BREAKING BAND pairs rock legends with emerging musicians, to provide guidance as they work to achieve their dreams of stardom. This season, mentors Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction / Red Hot Chili Peppers ), Moby, Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Belinda Carlisle (The Go-Go’s) and Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) share invaluable advice and collaborate with their protégés before deciding whether to join them on stage for a live performance.
Below is the broadcast schedule for the first season of BREAKING BAND. The show premieres Sunday, Jan. 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on AXS TV.
Jan. 24 – Dave Navarro / Andie Case
Jan. 31 – Moby / Runaground
Feb. 7 – Sebastian Bach / Santa Cruz
Feb. 14 – Robin Zander / Set the Charge
Feb. 21 – Belinda Carlisle / Sick of Sarah
Feb. 28 – Mark McGrath / Stick Figure
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to catch up with DONOVAN LEITCH during #TCA16 (Television Critics Association) Winter Tour held at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena on January 8th. Read more in their chat below!
Hey Donovan! What brings you to the TCAs (Television Critics Association) here in lovely Pasadena today?
Well, I’m here to today because I’m very excited to promote our new show “Breaking Band” on AXS TV which premieres on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on AXS TV. It’s a show where we bring emerging artists from the YouTube world and traditional “rock stars” and they come together over the course of one day and they perform together and learn from one another. These YouTube stars have the first opportunity ever to perform their music on television on AXS TV.
For those that are not as familiar with you and your background, what made you gravitate towards working on this type of medium?
I grew up in Los Angeles and I’ve been a musician, myself for a long time. I’ve also done a lot of producing and worked on a lot of documentaries as well. My Dad is Donovan, the singer, so naturally, music was always very much a part of my life. Through my experience working on documentaries and my love of music, I wanted to create a series for television that took the docu-series and combined it with music.
How did “Breaking Band” originate?
I’m very captivated by this new medium with YouTube and social media and the whole rockstar world that’s created from it, where these kids have no record labels, no managers, publicists…nothing and they go out there and they build, through their entirely own network, millions and millions of followers.
It kind of confounds the traditional industry thinking…like, “How do they do this?” So, I wanted to capture all that and bring it to television.
How did you go about choosing the mentors and bands?
These young musicians all have rockstars and idols that they look up to..I’m in a band myself, where I get to play with these rockstars and I started asking them,”Would you be interested in a show where you mentor these other up and coming bands?” They all seemed to be pretty interested in the idea, so we managed to put six episodes together with: Dave Navarro, Sebastian Bach, Mark McGrath, Belinda Carlisle, Robin Zander and Moby which is a very, across the board mixture of goodhearted people and talented musicians. We found six artists that we knew looked up to those rockstars and every episode has been totally unique and different. I think people are really going to enjoy the journey!
Switching gears every so slightly, I understand you also recently produced a musical called Head Over Heels, with fellow actor, singer and friend Gwyneth Paltrow, based on the music of The Go-Go’s is that right?
Yes! You got that right! We collaborated with former, Tony Award-winner Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q,” “Bring It On”) who signed on to write the book for a musical based on the Go-Go’s songs, produced by myself and Gwyneth, who I have been friends with for aeons. The production of “Head Over Heels” is based on works by British poet Sir Philip Sidney and it debuted at last year’s 2014 Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We’re going to do a workshop this summer in New York and hopefully it gets to Broadway!
So besides producing, hosting, acting and creating original content for the web and television, you are part of the musical “super group” ROYAL MACHINES. How’s that going?
Well, we now have Josh Freese as our drummer. Josh is in The Vandals, Devo, A Perfect Circle… everything, really, he’s played with everybody! Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray had done a bunch of shows with us as a guest and we finally asked him to be a full-time member. There’s six of us now besides Josh & Mark which also includes: Dave Navarro and Chris Chaney from Jane’s Addiciton, Billy Morrison and myself.
This year we’ve already done some great shows: we just played in Las Vegas with Billy Idol and Billy Gibbons, Fred Durst, Juliette Lewis and we have a bunch of different gigs coming up. We’re also playing a gig at Sundance and we have a lot of cool stuff going on.
It’s a lot of fun, for me, personally, because I’m like the only guy on stage who doesn’t have multi-platinum records, I get to live out my dream of performing with all these idols of mine. We had Jerry Casale from Devo play with us last week and I’m on stage singing “Mongoloid” and “Uncontrollable Urge” with him and this is my child fantasy come true! I cannot even believe this is happening!
Stay connected with DONOVAN LEITCH via his socials below:
Breaking Band on AXS TV / ROYAL MACHINES / TWITTER