Meet Donnie

Personal Bio

Donnie Crisp is an electric virtuoso. This talented guitarist and songwriter is the perfect architect to give Horse a solid frame to build a skyscraper around. The way he transitions seamlessly from sheer brutality to a soft gentle dynamic, leaves the listener wide eyed and struggling for the words to describe it. His technique is calculative, deliberate and pinpoint to the finest detail. His fingers move so quickly that they don't appear to be moving at times and yet, every note howls out with crystal clarity. It is a rare artist that can weave exotic chords into a metal platform without forcing the issue. Donnie achieves this task with effortless grace and unapologetic ease. Always willing to greet with a smile and refreshing humility, a friendly face for fans that seems to be scanning the horizon constantly for his next composition. Never a disappointment and always something out of the ordinary for the fans of Horse. It is truly a pleasure to experience this phenomenal performer as he blends clever, articulate lyrics, with awe inspiring melodies and mind blowing solos. Carefully crafted and meticulously presented, it seems to come naturally to this one of a kind master of six string martial artistry. If you turn away you might miss something incredible but don't worry, it will happen again.

Interview with Joe Bullet

JB: What was your first instrument?

DC: It was a snare drum which I destroyed shortly after receiving it.

JB: What was your first guitar?

DC: A Sears Silvertone that was given to me by my uncle when I was 8 years old.

JB: So you have played since you were 8?

DC: Well sort of, I didn't really get serious about playing until I was about 15 but that was the guitar I started on. The action was like a mile high and it was very hard to play so it’s a miracle that I didn’t get discouraged from playing on it. I still have it on my wall at home. It is exactly like a Danelectro with the lipstick pickups, only made by Sears.

JB: Didn't those come with a case that had the amp built into it?

DC: They did! Very good! My uncle still has the case I believe. He played in a band with Tommy Bolin here in Denver when he was kid, and he told me Tommy played on it. I can't prove or confirm it but it’s a cool story.

JB: What influenced you to be a guitar player?

DC: Everyone in my family was musically inclined and I was exposed to a lot of great music from a very early age. My Uncle had this enormous record collection with everything from Robert Johnson to King Crimson and Yes. That was were it all started I guess. My step father had a band and they played in our basement where my room was. I used to jam along with them using one string and finding the notes. He’s always been one of my biggest supporters.

JB: Describe for Horse fans how you came into the band.

DC: My band Assassin had just broken up, I got a call from Doug who told me he was talking to a mutual friend that told him I was available, he said he hung up on the guy mid sentence to call me to come down and jam, they were called U joint at the time. When I got there they were playing in a storage shed that was about 600 degrees, well as I was dragging my equipment in and Uncle Nasty says to me “I hope you sound better than your stuff looks" I laughed and kept my mouth shut which was probably wise. They played me a song and I said to them I think we should reverse the order of the majors and minors in this song and viola! Galactic Kaleidoscope was born. They asked me to join right away and I agreed. Rest is Horstory.

JB: Who writes the songs for you guys?

DC: I do most of them.

JB: What do you think about when you write songs?

DC: I think it’s whatever is tugging on my coat tails at the time, it varies from song to song. Hard to nail that part down to a formula. Even harder to remember from song to song.

JB:  What is your philosophy when it comes to the heart of a good song?

DC: That also depends on the song but generally I think it should sound good with voice and guitar only first, or keyboard and vocal only, if it doesn't there isn't much point in adding drums and bass or anything else. I do try to cater to the strengths of the other guys though because if you don’t think everyone will have fun playing it after the 10,000th time you play it, might as well shelf it now.

JB: If you were not a musician what would you be?

DC: A marine biologist.

JB: Really?

DC: Absolutely! I love the ocean and sea life and scuba diving which I am actually certified.

JB: What do you like to do in your spare time?

DC: Travel and play in the ocean when I can, otherwise I am screwing around in my studio writing and recording music for myself and others.

JB: What do you do right before you go onstage?

DC: Pace, warm up, drink water, hyperventilate and wait. It’s a glamorous life.

JB: Who would you like to work with in a side project, alive or dead?

DC: Mozart and Jim Morrison.

JB: Wow that’s an interesting combination. Why them?

DC: One of the greatest composers of all time and one of my favorite poets with me on guitar. It would be hard to top that for me.  It would be like going to the moon musically. 

JB: What song do you wish you would have written?

DC: Nowhere Man by Lennon and McCartney. Incredible composition. That will change tomorrow I am sure. There are so many great songs out there.

JB: How would you describe Horses style to a potential fan.

DC: I don't know man I leave that up to the listener.

JB: Are you thrash, progressive, death?

DC: Sure.

JB: Not going to answer that one huh?

DC: I’m too busy trying to write songs, I don't really have a desire to try to describe it or waste time worrying about that. That’s for others to decide. You can call it whatever you like. Heavy I guess!

JB: What advice would you give a new band that asked you for guidance?

DC: Be honest artistically, and be sincere to your fans. Always take time to thank people when they come up to compliment you. And whatever you do, don't get caught up in what everyone else is doing! Better practice a lot too.

JB: What is your career highlight so far?

DC: The night Vinny Paul of Hell Yeah joined us onstage to play Pantera’s “Walk”. We were at the Fillmore auditorium in front of thousands of rabid fans. That was the only time I was actually extremely nervous to play a live show.

JB: Why were you so nervous?

DC: Because I didn’t want to be known as the guy who butchered Pantera live at the Fillmore. I had to stand in Dimes shoes onstage with his brother a year and a half after he was murdered, at a sold out show, and perform a classic song that everyone knew from top to bottom.  No pressure.

JB: I was there, you guys killed it!

DC: Thanks man. We pulled it off. That crowd was so loud it literally lifted me up off the deck of the stage. I got lots of pats on the back that night. I know the love was for Dime and Vinny but it was a privilege to be part of that. Very special moment.

JB: Was the Fillmore Horses biggest show?

DC: One of them. We Played Red Rocks with Godsmack and Fiddlers green many times on main stage and side stages. We have been very fortunate.

JB: What was it like to play Red Rocks?

DC: Amazing! Greatest concert venue on the planet.

JB: Tell us about it.

DC: I remember standing on the stage doing a soundcheck and looking around and saying to myself holy crap. The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix played right here and my rig was right behind the spot where Jimi burned a guitar, and the black mark is still there, and I stood on it through most of our set. I kept remembering back to my early days when me and my friends were there watching Ozzy and Iron Maiden and me telling them I was going to play here some day, and they all snickered at me and said yeah sure Donnie. ( He smiles)

JB: Guess you got the last laugh on that.

DC: I was very proud and excited.

JB: Didn't you get injured?

DC: Yeah I ruptured my ACL about three songs in. I was jumping up and down and pow it just exploded.

JB: Did you have to be carted off stage?

DC: I could have fallen off the rocks and as long as one finger still twitched I would have kept going. Funny thing is I really didn't feel any pain until we finished and I went to the side of the stage where my Sister was and I said I think I did something to my knee. Almost instantly it started howling with pain. So I got to blow my knee out right on the spot where Jimi burned a guitar. It was a long rehab but it's a great story I get a kick out of telling it.

JB: Your tone is amazing, what kind of rig do you play through?

DC: 1976 Marshall JMP Super Lead with two vintage cabinets and a Fender Stratocaster mainly. I use a Wangs VT-100H for a clean ghost tone too. I recently became an endorser for Wangs amps and after hours of experiments I discovered that was the ideal way to use it to compliment the Marshall. I also use several pedals for various things but the meat is the amps and guitar and I can't tell you how I set it up or I will have to kill you.

JB: What's a ghost tone?

DC: I run the Wangs VT-100H on a clean setting. No overdrive and just a little reverb for effect. The cabinet is turned round backward and mic'd so it is only audible through the house mix out front. You can't hear it onstage unless you go round back of the stacks. It is mixed in subtly out front and hence I call it my ghost tone. It is there in spirit only. ( He laughs) The Marshall sounds incredible by it self but when you add the clean ghost tone from the Wangs it just pops. Warms it up and adds space.

JB: Do you have any pointers for young players?

DC: Turn knobs, a lot! Find what works for you but try everything because as soon as you think you have it, you find something better. Took me years to dial it in. Practice, practice, practice. I tell my students that it takes 10,000 hours of practice for muscle memory to kick in. Probably a kind estimate too.

JB: You give lessons?

DC: Yes I do, helps keep the lights on at home.

JB: Expert lessons only?

DC: Any level. Look me up on my facebook page and I will be happy to help you. I have students from ages 6- 58. I love to teach. It's almost as rewarding as playing for a sold out crowd.

Speed round, one answer, ready? 

Beer or wine?

DC: Whiskey.

JB: Sushi or Steak?

DC: Steak.

JB: Beach or Pool?

DC: Beach of course.

JB: Football or Hockey?

 DC: Football.

JB: Cats or Dogs?

DC: Cats, lower maintenance.

JB: Coffee or Tea?

DC: Coffee.

JB: Comedy, Drama, or Horror?

DC: Horror.

 JB: Blonde, Brunette or Redhead?

DC: Yes!

JB: Canada or Mexico in March?

DC: Mexico.

JB: Movie or Book?

DC: Movie

JB: Coke or Pepsi?

DC: Whiskey.

JB: McDonalds or Burger King?

DC: Run away!

JB: Snow or Rain?

DC: Rain, very rain.

JB: The Beatles or The Stones?

DC: Beatles.

JB: Slayer or Metallica?

DC: Slayer, no contest.

JB: Would you like to say anything else?

DC: Yes! I would like to say thanks to my brothers in Horse for giving me a platform to express myself artistically. Also want to thank our fans for the love and support they have shown and to my family for everything. And of course, thanks to the coolest little woman in the world who let me build a studio in our living room for my music. Thank you Tara!

JB: Thanks Donnie and good luck to you guys in the years to come.

DC: It was my pleasure, thank you Joe. 

Donnie’s favorites:

Movies- Jaws, House of 1000 Corpses, Song Remains the Same, Dawn of the Dead, Chasing Mavericks, the Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Dirty Dozen, It might get Loud.

Books: The Stand by Stephen King, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, The conduct of Life by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

Bands: The Beatles, The Who, Experience, Pantera, Slipknot, Slayer, Jamiroquai, Sly and the family Stone. Too many to list, needs its own website.

Event in music history: Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop Festival.

Actors: Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Al Pacino.

Actress: Marilyn Monroe, Rachel Welch, Betty White, Sophia Vergera.

Singers: Corey Taylor, Bon Scott, Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Ray Gillan, Jason Kay, Prince.

Guitarists: Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Tommy Bolin, Tony Iommi. Richie Blackmore, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin, Roy Buchanan, Jerry Reed, Uli John Roth, Buckethead, Darrell (Dime bag) Abbott.

Bassist: Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clark, Larry Graham, Flea, Les Claypool, Stuart Zender.

Drummer: John Bonham, Chad Smith, Neil Peart, Dennis Chambers, Terry Bozio, Buddy (God) Rich, Gene Krupa, Vinny Paul, Simon Phillips.

Donnie's Gear:


Fender Stratocaster

Fender Telecaster

Gibson Les Paul

Gibson SG

Ovation Applause Acoustic

Washburn 12 String Acoustic

Fender Mandolin 


Wangs VT- 100H

Marshall JMP 100w Super lead MKll

Orange Dual Terror

Celestion Speakers

Wangs Cabinets

Marshall Cabinets




TC Electronics

Radial Engineering

Voodoo Lab




Monster Cables

Dunlop Picks

Fretrest Stands

Highway Straps

Snark Tuners