Interview ~ Chip Z’Nuff of Enuff Z’Nuff

Enuff Z’Nuff seemed to come out of nowhere back in 1989 with their self-titled debut album. Their psychedelic and colorful videos for “New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle” were hits on MTV and the band’s fanbase exploded. (Then) frontman Donnie Vie was not happy with the band being promoted by the label as a glam band and the band toned down the look with their 1991 follow-up album Strength. That album, although hailed by critics, suffered the dreaded “sophomore slump” and it did not sell well. The band continued to record new material and there seemed to be revolving doors for band members. Lead vocalist Vie stopped touring in 2002 to pursue a solo career and the band performed as a three piece.

The band’s story sounds like an episode of VH1’s Behind The Music. Former lead guitarist Derek Frigo died of a drug overdose in 2004 and long-time drummer Ricky Parent list his battle with cancer in 2007. The shuffling of band members continued and bassist Chip Z’Nuff is now fronting the band. Here we are in 2018 and the band is creating quite a buzz surrounding the release of their new album Diamond Boy. It’s the first to feature Chip Z’Nuff on all lead vocals and the first to have no contributions from Vie. We recently sat down with the namesake of the band to talk about the new album, the new tour and more!

Chip, how’s it going buddy?

Chip Z’Nuff/Enuff Z’Nuff: I can’t complain; it’s a beautiful day here in Chicago. Lollapalooza’s here with 150 bands and eight stages. I’m here recording at Chicago Recording Company which is one of the greatest recording studios in the country. I’m producing a band called Mark Bon Jovi (Jon’s cousin) and Chance the Rapper’s upstairs recording his record. There’s a really cool vibe going on here.

It’s a stormy day here in North Carolina

There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in the house because of the weather when you want to do something. What do you do when that happens? You’ve got social media with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It’s all out there and it’s a way for everybody to keep themselves busy.

I’m sorry I missed out talk the other day. I had some health issues get in the way.

I hope you’re ok my friend.

Yes, I just need to slow down a bit and learn to stop taking on so much and learn to say no.

We live in a world where it’s hard to say no. For us, in the old days, we’d get on the tour bus and they’d be a couple of ounces of cocaine, a case of Jack Daniels and it was just packed with action. This happened every single night, so it was very difficult, but we got through it and I think you can too.

I appreciate that sir. You know this is becoming a tradition for us because you and I spoke right before Clown’s Lounge was released.

Unbelievable my friend; thank you again for all of your support.

So, how did you know it was time to head back into the studio to make a new album?

Well, we toured for a couple of years off of the Clown’s Lounge record. We went out with KISS and did the KISS Kruise and played four shows with the legendary band. Right after we got back from that, I got a call from Ace Frehley’s agent and they asked if I wanted to go out and do thirty shows with Ace. So, after touring all of last year and most of this year we figured out that maybe it was time for a fresh, new record. It’s a new chapter in Enuff Z’Nuff’s life. I’m fronting the band now and singing and writing all of these songs. So, it would only be fitting to give the fans something fresh and new. The last album Clown’s Lounge was archival with a couple of songs that were showcasing the band with how we are today. This album is a full length album with eleven songs bashed out in a major recording studio. To get a budget to do that these days is ridiculous. We signed with Frontiers Records and I feel like I’ve signed with the Godfather with Serafino (Perugino) over there and Nick Peter have really taken us under their wing. They demand perfection and we gave them a great eleven song album which is wonderful in this day and age of everyone writing for singles. The bands that are thinking about making full length records are the ones who are going to have success and be able to move forward. It just so happens that when we finished the album months ago that we got a call from Livenation. They asked us if we wanted to go out on the Sirius XM Hair Nation tour with Jack Russell’s Great White and the Bulletboys and we said absolutely! The album comes out in conjunction with the tour that starts in September and the new record is out next week. I’ll be doing the Howard Stern show and we’re going to hit every market that we can around the country promoting this album. It’s a great rock and roll record. Let me put it in a little picture for you; I’ll paint it for you right now. Picture David Bowie and ELO fighting in an alley and Cheap Trick come in and break it up. That’s the new Enuff Z’Nuff album!

 YES! That is perfect; I love it!

We’ve always been a band that wears its influenced proudly on its sleeves and this record is no exception. All of the songs are not necessarily auto biographical’ a lot are about other people and situations. There are songs about what’s going on in the world today. It’s a nice potpourri of past and present. I think it’s a solid rock record going back to the old days of the 70s where bands actually plugged in and played, left all their scars and tattoos and warts on it. That’s the beauty of it because we’ll be able to go out and do it just like that. We’re not bringing a symphony behind us or a bunch of guys beneath the stage playing. It will be the four of us plugging in, singing and playing these songs. We’ll mix it up really well on this tour. We’ll play some stuff from the early records and mix it up with the new record as well. I’m excited to see how the fans react to the new songs. Right now, over 40,000 have checked out the first two songs on social media. The response has been amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better response from the fans. Perhaps it’s because Enuff Z’Nuff have always been the critics’ darling which is real nice because we certainly didn’t ask for that. Anybody that has nice things to say goes a long way in my eyes.

There’s definitely a great buzz growing about this new album which, by the way, is pretty amazing. I hear old school Enuff Z’Nuff in it, but also with new elements making it sound current.

Thanks for your kind words bro; it’s a good strong record. When we started recording the first thing that we said was let’s make a 70s sounding record. It’s quite challenging in this day and age because you can’t do it with just pro-tools. We snuck into the studios at night after everyone had left, so it was very cost efficient that way. This band is very well rehearsed, so we went in and bashed the record out in about a month. We didn’t go crazy and do a bunch of overdubs. I do think the songs are melodic and there’s aggressiveness to this record.

I read in the bio sheet that you took on production duties on this one.

I’ve co-produced all of the Enuff Z’Nuff records and this one is no exception except that I went out and got a punk rock producer to come in and help me because he had a different sense of balance. I got Rob Pozen who has worked with Johnny Rotten and he also did the hip-hop stuff with Twista.

So, this is the first studio album without any writing or contributions from Donnie (Vie). What was it like stepping into that kind of situation for the very first time?

It was almost like making a solo record and obviously there were complications with anyone like that. If you pull a Joe Perry away from Steven Tyler it’s going to be a little bit different. If you took Robin Zander away from Rick Nielsen, that certainly would throw a wrench ion a lot of stuff. Jagger without Richards; come on! Obviously, I’m talking about the greatest guys out there but no different ion a band like us. It had its ups and downs and there was guilt by default. There’s only one guy left, me. I’m Chip Z’Nuff and I’m the namesake of the band. It’s either sink or swim and I chose to swim bro. I’m real proud of the contribution here and at the end of the day; we artists make records for ourselves. If they’re strong and we’re comfortable with them, then we share them with the rest of the world   and that’s exactly what I’m doing here with this Diamond Boy record.

It may be presumptuous for me to think I can speak for all of the fans, but I will and say thank you for choosing to swim. Let’s talk a little bit about videos. You put two video teasers out so far.

Yes, we put “Metalheart” out first and then “Where Did You Go.” I think they’re both great representations of where Enuff Z’Nuff is today and our new chapter. You need to hear the rest of the record together as an experience and that’s what I wrote those songs to be. I think it shows elements of pop, rock, alternative and metal. If you put them all in a blender together, that’s Enuff Z’Nuff my friend.

Back to the video aspect; are you guys planning on doing what I can an old school video for any of the songs?

You’re very astute my friend. The first video will be out next week and it’s for the title track “Diamond Boy.” We shot it in New York with a guy named Dave Steckerd who has done stuff with D Generation, Lucinda Williams and Paul McCartney. We shot of it in Vegas as well. We want to do a video for every single song on the record. Right now, the first two videos are ready to go.

Regarding the Sirius XM tour, I saw something on your site about a V.I.P. soundcheck meet and greet. We will put a link in here so fans can check it out. For anyone who is curious, what can you tell us about that.

You don’t have to do that because you’ll end up meeting the band either way because we’ll come out every single night and hang with the fans. We thought we’d do something different with the meet and greet where people pay $100, $200, $1000, $2000 to meet their favorite band. For a very reasonable price, you get to come in early and it’s called a soundcheck experience. We play two or three songs at soundcheck for you, we give you a beautiful little gift bag to say thank you for your support. It could be records, t-shirt, videos, guitar picks and strings, whatever, but it’s a nice little thank you gift and then you get to hang with us all night. It’s not like a five minute experience and then we throw you out of the room. We normally don’t do meet and greets, so I didn’t want to call it that. We’re not there to bamboozle the fans and take their money, but there’s a value to being able to come in early, watch your favorite band soundcheck and hang out with them. Hopefully, everyone will be happy with what we’re providing. This isn’t a five minute thing where we say hi, take a picture and leave. You’re all part of the family and we want you to feel that.

I know we need to wrap this up, so we mentioned the new album, the video and the tour. Is there anything else?

The new record will be out next week and I’ll be on Howard Stern. I’m also doing some in-store appearances leading up to the tour that starts on September 12 in San Diego at the House of Blues. We’ll be touring to the rest of the year in support of Diamond Boy.  If you’re looking for our music or merchandise, you can head to our website and we will accommodate you.

Interview by I’m Music Magazine Owner/Editor/Photographer Johnny Price

Order your copy of Diamond Boy HERE

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