first saw ENUFF Z'NUFF at a club called HAMMERJACKS in Baltimore back in 1989. I was fourteen years old and more or less immersed in much of what would become known as hair metal. I tagged along with two older friends, not knowing what I was in for. I had read the positive notices that the band was getting for their 1989 self-titled album which featured the singles FLY HIGH MICHELLE and NEW THING. In a rock n roll climate that was filled with such bands as GUNS N ROSES, DEF LEPPARD and POISON to a lesser degree, ENUFF Z'NUFF stood out from the crowd with a sound that owed a heavy debt to such seventies rock acts as MOT THE HOOPLE, CHEAP TRICK and DAVID BOWIE and their willingness to go against the grain earned them something that was seldom doled out to any band who teased their hair up in those times - critical acclaim. Almost thirty years later, ENUFF Z'NUFF has continued to soldier on, looking and sounding no worse for the wear, but with some noticeable changes. Lead singer DONNIE VIE split in the early 2000s, leaving co-founder and bass player CHIP Z'NUFF to pick up the slack as lead singer while former ULTRAVOX front man TONY FENELLE steps into the role frontman. Their new album DIAMOND BOY is classic ENUFF Z'NUFF. Despite all of the nods to some of rock's more glamorous and colorful legendary acts, the band after all these years still find ways to make it all sound signature. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with CHIP Z'NUFF regarding the new album. Here is how the interview went.
The new album DIAMOND BOY has been out for a few days now. How do you feel about the finished work?
I'm certainly happy about it. Anytime and artist can finish a record and then find a home to where we can bring it to the people is a gift in itself. For us to be going out there with what is actually our twenty-first record, it's absolutely a gift from above that we get to release this record and get out there and play live for people. It's also a great record. I'm really proud of it. It's rock solid all the way through and there is no filler on it whatsoever. It's a great throwback to the seventies. We've got the hi-fi and the lo-fi mixed very well on this record. We've got the guy who works with OZZY OSBOURNE mixing this record. I think it's another chapter in ENUFF Z'NUFF's career.
What has inspired this set of songs from a thematic standpoint?
The inspiration comes from everywhere nowadays. There are a lot of things to write about. You've got a ton of stuff in the news and in our personal lives as well from mothers working two jobs a day to support their family to people trying to pay their bills. As a band, we're trying to provide that service where you we allow you to let your hair down for an hour and not worry about any of that stuff. You can just listen to the songs and they'll take you wherever you want them to take you. There is plenty of subject matter out there to write about and I think we've nailed it.
THE ARTiCLE WiLL CONTiNUE
FOLLOWiNG THE ADVERTiSEMENT BELOW
LOVE IS ON THE LINE is a great single and it sounds like everything that I would expect from you guys.
We didn't really earmark it as a single. As far as I'm concerned, we put a record out there with a bunch of good songs and chronologically, they all work well together as songs. I think there are some nice stories in there. It's not really an autobiographical record. It picks off of the bones of a bunch of different stuff. It's all about the music. As far as singles go, we write the songs and then we leave it up to our record company and we're with a great label called FRONTIERS. They have NIGHT RANGER and ALICE COOPER and I think they've just recently signed STEVE PERRY. The label is potpourri of bands. There are so many good bands on the label that if I had a list in front of me, I could talk for half an hour about how strong the label is and how many great bands they have. For them to fit ENUFF Z'NUFF onto their roster is really quite flattering. When you hear the record, you just get the essence of what ENUFF Z'NUFF is all about. It's a miracle that we're still going after all of these years. For us to be putting out an album in this day and age is really sobering.
And what kind of reactions have you been able to gauge from the release? Have their been any reactions to the album that have surprised you or that you didn't see coming?
There's been a lot press. The reaction is about the same as it's been for all of the records. When I look back at the barometer of ENUFF Z'NUFF's success, we've always been the critic's darlings. The albums have all been a combination of heavy metal, hard rock, pop and alternative all mixed together in a blender. Its a big potpourri of sound because those were our influences. We grew up listening to BLACK SABBATH and LED ZEPPELIN and QUEEN and then we also listened to American bands like CHEAP TRICK and AEROSMITH. And then we were big fans of things like NIRVANA, THE FOO FIGHTERS, SOUNDGARDEN and ALICE IN CHAINS. We like all of that stuff and sometimes you've got to be careful to watch what you eat. All of those bands are a big influence on what we do. When people ask me what the record is like, I just want to save myself time by telling them to picture DAVID BOWIE and THE BEATLES fist fighting in an alley and CHEAP TRICK comes in and breaks it up. That is the new ENUFF Z'NUFF album.
ENUFF Z'NUFF is a band that has been through some line up changes. In the band's later years, you stepped into the lead singer position when DONNIE VIE left. Talk about the current lineup and what it is that you think each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work?
Line up changes happen to bands because relationships fall apart. But with ENUFF Z'NUFF, the reason for these changes was because I lost the great DEREK FRIGO in 2004. He was a wonderful guitar player. He started with a band called LE MANS and worked his way through his career all the way up to ENUFF Z'NUFF. In 2007, we lost my drummer RICKY PARENT. So that just left DONNIE and myself out there to tour, which we did and then I hired TORY STOFFREGEN to play guitar for us. He also plays guitar for a band called BLACK MOLLYS and now he plays with a new group called NEW BLACK 7 and they are absolutely phenomenal. They're like a BLACKBERRY SMOKE type band and they've got a couple of albums out. He's a great guitarist and a wonderful singer. He's been with me for a while. About three years ago, I was lucky enough to find the former ULTRAVOX lead singer TONY FENELLE, who took MIDGE URE's place years ago. He was off and I asked if he'd like to sing with ENUFF Z'NUFF. He and I were label mates back in the early years. He had a band then called BIG NOISE and they were absolutely terrific. He was kind enough to come down and he loves ENUFF Z'NUFF's legacy, so he joined the band in 2015. To round us out we have DANIEL BENJAMIN HILL from Chicago. He's a rock solid drummer and a great writer. He joined the band and we jumped on a tour and did the M3 FESTIVAL and we havent' stopped since. We're chasing that carrot and we have wonderful opportunities right here for us. Not only were we able to go out and make a great record, and go out talk on press junkets and talk to great guys like you, but we get to hop aboard the OSCAR MEYER weiner wagon and tour and play these songs for fans. This next tour that we're going to be on is going to be an absolute juggernaut of a tour. It's going ot be coming through every single city in North America.
Tell me more about this tour.
LIVE NATION is putting together the HAIR NATION TOUR featuring JACK RUSSELL's GREAT WHITE, THE BULLET BOYS and ENUFF Z'NUFF and we've got EDDIE TRUNK who's going to be co-hosting a lot of these events for us. I think that LIVE NATIONS has a contest out there looking for a band in every single town to win, where they can open up the show. JACK RUSSELL's GREAT WHITE and THE BULLET BOYS all have new albums out so it's not like we're touring on our old hits. This is all fresh new music with a fresh new sound and we all have labels. Everybody is excited about taking this to the street and I'm looking at this as one of the best deals for a tour around the country. Most people pay $50 to $150 to $300 to go see a concert, you can see three bands that have sold collectively over twenty million records playing in your hometown for a very reasonably priced ticket. It's going to be a great show. I can't wait to go out on this tour. We're not going to leave one stone un-turned.
Well, I'd love to see you guys make it to Albuquerque.
The last time we played there it was with the band CANDLEBOX.
Love those guys! KEVIN MARTIN is fantastic!
Who doesn't love KEVIN? It was just a one off gig for us, but there were like ten thousand people that were there. They loved it and then we went over to the border and started some trouble and embrace our promiscuity and substance abuse. That was a lot of fun! The country is starving for rock n roll and Albuquerque is no different. The last time I was in Albuquerque, it was with STEVE ADLER from GUNS N ROSES. We spent a day out there and gave a radio interview and then we did this big theater gig. It was jam packed and we played nothing but APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION. It was STEVE ADLER, myself and MICHAEL THOMAS from FASTER PUSSYCAT and ALEX GROSSI from QUIET RIOT. It was a great little mini all-star band.
Bring me back to the beginning of ENUFF Z'NUFF. How did this whole thing get off the ground?
We both put the band together in 1984 in a little town called Blue Island, Illinois. I was sitting in a club. We were hanging out with some nice looking girls and this guy comes up to us and asks what we do for a living and we tell him that we're in this band called ENUFF Z'NUFF and we're trying to get some funds up so we can go into the studio and record some songs. Then he said "good luck with that!" and then he hung out with us for a little bit and he split. About a half hour later he came back and threw five hundred dollars on the table and said 'Hey will this help you start your recording?" It was a guy named LT. BOB EARP! He was such a great cop! Real pot friendly too! If you were smoking a little bit, back then you were in trouble, but he didn't care about that. He just wanted to take care of his buddies as long as you weren't on the streets causing trouble and breaking the law. Small little things like that were just a slap on the wrist. We got on a payphone, cause there were no cellpones back then, and we called up the studio STAR TRACKS. The owner answered at 1:30 in the morning. I told him that my name was CHIP and that I was with ENUFF Z'NUFF and that we wanted to come into the studio and record. He asked me 'when' and I said 'now'. An hour later, we went into the studio, I handed him five hundred bucks and we recorded our first three songs from our first album in 1985. The songs were CATHOLIC GIRLS, DAY BY DAY and NO SECOND TIME. I still remember it like it was yesterday. That started everything off for us. There was a station in Chicago called WBBX and a guy named JOHN GORNEY added the record to his playlist and we started getting some action there and then I start taking gigs anywhere I could find them. We opened for BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE or THE GUESS WHO? or LOVERBOY and CHEAP TRICK and we started making some fans and then we were discovered by CAPITOL RECORDS. This girl came up form CAPITOL RECORDS and said she wanted to do a deal with us. We thought this was going to be fantastic. A couple of months before we signed the deal we were at Lake Geneva Wisconsin making some demos and DOC MCGHEE came up to us. He had one of our cassettes in his car. He had friend who had a label called POLYGRAM RECORDS. They had just signed BON JOVI and CINDERELLA. This friend of his wanted to see us, so he flew to Chicago to see us. It was a debacle of a rehearsal. It didn't go well at all, but the guy saw something in us. DEREK SHULMAN ended up signing the band and everything got started for us. From there, the first two hits were NEW THING and FLY HIGH MICHELLE and we've been chasing the carrot ever since, my friend. I've got a book that I'm writing. It's not ready yet, but it's a couple years in the writing already and it shows all of the warts and scars and the tattoos of the record industry and most notably, my life. I don't sugarcoat anything and I talk about the cocaine abuse that we had and all of the drinking and more pills than a pharmacy. It was a party back then. Music came first and foremost but right behind it came the extra curricular activities and I'm not afraid to show that at all in this book. It's a good story, but to make a long story short, it's thirty years later and we've got twenty one albums and we're still touring the country. We just got off tour with KISS so we were out there with ACE FREHLEY for thirty dates. We've done a lot of work to get ourselves back into the game again and it's a different avenue with internet and social media. In some ways it's really good that with a touch of a button you can reach out to hundreds of thousands of people but more than anything, we want to keep rock n roll out there in the forefront. There are some great bands out there, that are keeping it going like THE STRUTS and GRETA VAN FLEET and RIVAL SONS. These are all really strong groups that are keeping rock n roll in the forefront.
THE ARTiCLE WiLL CONTiNUE
FOLLOWiNG THE ADVERTiSEMENT BELOW
From the album, are there any songs that have you particularly excited to get people to hear? And if so, why?
The record starts off great. It's like the BEACH BOYS at ten with TRANSCENDENCE and then it goes right to the opening cut DIAMOND BOY. I don't like bringing up what the songs are about because the listener might have a different interpretation and take on it and I don't want to wreck that for them. It's a song that could be about anybody out there right now. It's very androgynous. It shows the best elements of ENUFF Z'NUFF. It's got shades of BOWIE and CHEAP TRICK and THE BEATLES. It really comes right out of the box. This record leads you through a nice little story about everything that's been happening in the world through my eyes. You've asked me to pick certain songs that I want people to hear, but I want people to hear all of them. WHERE DID YOU GO is our teaser single as well as METAL HEART, which is another strong rock track. I love WE'RE ALL THE SAME. It's a wonderful pop song with shades of ELO. I was worried about all of these influences under our sleeves but at the end of the day, you can listen to these songs and realize that it's ENUFF Z'NUFF. We have our own sound and our own timbre and you go all the way through this album with songs like IMAGINARY MAN to DOPE SICK to FAITH HOPE AND LOVE, which are three words that I hope we all aspire to and you'll find something on this album that will trip your trigger.
With DIAMOND BOY, what is the big idea? What would you like for people to come away with after they hear this album?
At the end of the day we're just another rock n roll band out there. Maybe there is some inspiring message to the music or an answer to one of your questions about life, but at the end of the day we just want to put a great record out and leave an indelible mark on the audience and maybe there is a movie out there or a TV show or commercial that could use a song or maybe a band out there wants to record one of these songs for their next album. That's cool with me. At this point in my career, who cares who drives the bus? I just want to get to the picnic. There are a lot of good things that have provided a wonderful opportunity for ENUFF Z'NUFF and to be able to go out on tour and play these songs live is the biggest, best thing that I can give back to the audience.
CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: firstname.lastname@example.org