Vincent D’Onofrio needs no introduction. The “actor’s actor” lit up living rooms for 10 years as Detective Robert Goren in NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and has been a featured player on both stage and screen. This week, he will will invade your earbuds with the release of his collaborative spoken word album, Slim Bone Head Volt.
Deals & Dollars Weekly editor Brandon De Hoyos caught up with the performer to discuss working on the album with Dana Lyn, how the Internet has changed the world, and why education makes perfection.
Brandon De Hoyos: Vincent, it’s a pleasure speaking with you today.
Vincent D’Onofrio: Thank you, I’m glad to talk to you.
BDH: Now, on March 3rd, we’re celebrating the release of you and Dana Lyn’s new album, Slim Bone Head Volt. If I understand correctly, this album of spoken word set to music was conceived through text messages?
VDO: [Dana Lyn] and I were doing a play with Ethan Hawke—Clive—I guess a year and a half ago. Very successful. It is an adaptation of a play called Baal. During the rehearsal period and I guess as a product for moral, to keep up moral, I would write these fake journals from the perspective of animals or something when I was in line for things, like the taxi. I would just take my phone out and write these journals, and we would pass them around. Most nights, we’d read one aloud before the production.
Dana had the idea that, ‘Hey, maybe we should put these to music,’ and asked me to come in a record them. Since then, we’ve had three sell-out performances. Everyone is having a blast listening to them.
BDH: Take me into the process of working on this album. What does the creative and the collaborative process look like on this album?
VDO: Of course, you’d have to ask to Dana, but from my point of view she would have these journals, and I think there are over a hundred of them or so, more coming all the time. Now I write them all the time. I send them to her, and she composes the music. She’s an amazing musician and she’s quite the composer. And then she’ll send me the music, or invite me to record some, and try different things. I sit in the studio and read these journals that she wrote set to her music. So far, we’ve gotten them all in one take, sometimes three.
BDH: How has Slim Bone Head Volt compared to the great body of work you have done on screen? What are the differences? The similarities?
VDO: I don’t think there are any similarities. This is just my stream of consciousness spilling out. It’s not directly based on anything, it’s just whatever is influencing me at the moment I don’t want to add any weight or worth to it at all. I don’t consider it worth anything, because it is total stream of consciousness. What you hear is what affects me at that moment, minus incorrect punctuation at the time. [Lyn] corrects some of the punctuation, but when I’m typing there is no going back. It just comes out, and people either like it or not.
It seems to make hundreds of people smile, and laugh at loud. As far as what it does as an actor, 99 percent of the time, I am speaking with someone else’s words. And then, working on a character can help tell the story they wrote. It’s a very different process, but it doesn’t feel like when I’m acting.
BDH: Since the album was based on your text messages, I am curious: do you use any other apps or technology to keep you efficient or effective in your craft?
VDO: On the Internet, I use language apps sometime. Dictionary for writing. Music apps, and search engines. When I was a kid, there were libraries, and I use it like you would a card catalog. For example, I used it the other day to try and find somebody who is shooting a documentary. Search engines are the new library.
BDH: You are known as an actor’s actor, and your work spans genres and generations. Now you’ve got Slim Bone Head Volt. What drives you to succeed in your career, and what advice could you give to someone who might have a dream of their own—be it a business, or a career in entertainment– that is not yet realized?
VDO: It’s always been that I work very hard at whatever I do. I’m not lazy when it comes to work. What happens when you put all your homework in and you’ve done all your research and you approach things with a never-ending preparation, if you approach it like that, you build yourself with the confidence to succeed.
You don’t have to put on any airs, or pretend you are something you are not. You can then really enjoy what you are doing because you are so present, and so prepared. I find that I learned to do that mid-way through my career. I’ve had a very long career now, and midway through it, when I was in my 30s, I discovered this. It freed me up. That’s the best advice I can give.
Learn more at SlimBoneHeadVolt.com.