The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
ENUFF ZNUFF CHIP ZNUFF INTERVIEW 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - ENUFF Z'NUFF's CHIP Z'NUFF

CHIP Z'NUFF

TALKS TO THE

ROCKPIT

WE LOOK BACK ON 30 YEARS OF ENUFF Z'NUFF AND TAKE A PEEK AT THE NEW COVERS ALBUM 'COVERED IN GOLD'...

 

OCTOBER 2014

CHECK OUT OUR REVIEW OF 'COVERED IN GOLD' HERE

 

To me there were few bands that could ever touch Enuff Z'Nuff, and over the years they proved it again and again with album after album of gems. Earlier in the year I had an interview with a solo-again Donnie Vie lined up but it never materialised, so it was great to hear that the band he made his name with: Enuff Z'Nuff wee about to launch a new album of covers and were working on new material. We caught Chip at home in the lead up to the release.


Mark: Hi, Chip, its Mark from The Rockpit, in Australia, how are you?


Chip: Hey, Mark, how are ya? It’s about the new record? You pop the questions; I’ll answer every one of them!


Mark: Yeah, sounds good. First of all thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and it’s great to see you releasing some new material, I know a lot of what’s out on the new record has been previously available, but it’s great to mark the 30 years. It’s a long time! Take us right back to the beginning, what were you doing 30 years ago??


Chip: 30 years ago, I was a star on MTV!! Prior to that I was playing clubs, just like any other musician out there in the world, honing my craft. We were working enough and in 1985, we put a record together. A Chicago cop overheard me talking in a court room one night, and he came up to me and said what are you guys doing, and I said we were trying to get enough money together to go in to the studio and make a record, and he said, “well, good luck, kid”. Half an hour later he showed up, threw $500 in front of me, and said get in to the studio right now!! True story and I’ll never forget about it. I phoned the recording studio at 2am; a place called Star Treks and said, hi, my name’s Chip and I play in a band called Enuff Z Nuff, and we want to make a record, he said when do you want to come in? And I said right now!! He said as a matter of fact I’ve just been tweaking the drums, do you want to come in right now and we can start tracking, and that’s what started it all for us. We recorded the first record which was called “1985”, and we played the clubs for a while until we were discovered by a guy called Doc McGee, who managed Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Scorpions, and now he’s also the manager of Kiss. Back then it was cassette tapes, and he was recording in the same studio we were doing our demos, and he said I have three cassette tapes in my car, Chip, and two of them are your band, and I have a friend of mine who’s name is Derek Sholvin, and he’s running a new imprint called ATCO records, through Atlantic, it was a subsidiary, I want to give him your stuff and see what he says. He said, I think he’ll really like it. Anyway, Derek heard the cassette, flew to Chicago, came to our rehearsal, we played one song and our guitar player broke the string, and we said let us know if he blew the deal, and we’ll fire him right now, and he said, no, I’ve heard enough.  The next day he sent a fax to us, saying, I’ve got a quarter of a million dollars, will you guys do a record for us? That’s what started it all off for Enuff Z Nuff. Through the years we just kept putting records out, the first record was successful, and we toured all around the country. I remember leaving my wife and daughter, and saying I’ll see you guys in a couple of weeks, and not coming home for a year. That record did really well for us, selling 25,000 records every week, we went from having nothing at all to having the world by the balls, and it was a very exciting moment for us. And we continue to chase that for the last 30 years! We never obtained that success we had with that first album, we had the songs, and some of the biggest stars in the country were acknowledging our group, but we just couldn’t get over the hump, because we constantly kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We were promiscuous and had substance abuse problems, and through the years for some reason, the good lord above has watched over us, and gave us a living making records. And that leads me up to right now, 30 years later, I had a telephone call from a person at a record company, his name’s Brian Carrera, and he said I’ve always loved your band, I’d love to put a record out, and I said the only thing I have right now is a cover record, and he said that sounds terrific, why don’t you send it to me and I’ll listen to it. It was some of my friends here in Chicago, along with the guys from Cheap Trick, we put together this record of all these cover songs, and we recorded a couple of extra ones with Tony Fennell,  the singer with a band called Ultravox. He flew to Chicago and recorded three or four more songs for the album, sent it out to Cleopatra Records, and they loved it, and said let’s do a deal! So, here I am now, with a record that’s actually charting!! And I’m enjoying the road right now, everything that’s happening; I didn’t expect any of it, I was just grateful to be able to put a record out. I’ll be doing a club tour, and we’ll see what happens.

Mark: It’s a great story, and over the years I’ve managed to catch you a few times, and for me, Enuff Z Nuff is one of those bands that just had everything, you should have been so much greater, and when you talk to people, a lot of them are very passionate about the band. I guess it’s one of those times, when sometimes the breaks come, and sometimes they don’t, but, it’s great to see some new material, and also to see you doing some shows, and festivals.


Chip: I’ll tell you what, Mark, we looked at this, and with the agency, of course, we thought it would be in our best interest to just go out and do weekend warrior gigs! In other words, just Fridays and Saturdays, there’s no need for us to go out on a tour bus right now. I’m not a little kid anymore, when you’re 20 and 30 years old and you’re on those buses, you’re just focussed on what’s in front of you, and going out and playing your songs for an audience every single night, but the fact of the matter is going out on a tour bus right now, is a thousand bucks a day, the gas prices are astronomical, getting work permits to go out and play, it’s almost impossible for a rock band to go out, or any band for that matter, to go out and tour and support the record, unless you’ve got tour support. So, we chose to do the weekend stuff, and then I can still be in Chicago, if I get chance I’m on TV every single day, my Mancow TV show, which I co-host, we have fun and talk about daily events and what’s happening in the world. So, if something happens with this record or somebody wants to take us out on tour, we’ll consider that, but right now, I think it’s in our best interests to play to as many people as possible, and the way to do that is at festivals and clubs.


Mark: At the moment you’re a three piece, with Johnny on vocals, you’ve had over the years an on and off line up, with Donnie, who is at the moment off the radar, do you ever see him coming back to the fold, or do you think that chapter is over?


Chip: Let me say, without Donnie, writing these songs and singing this material, you wouldn’t be talking to me right now! He was a big part of our success that being said he decided he wanted to semi-retire, he got sick of the road, he got sick of the business, and he just didn’t want to do it anymore! He was never fired; he never got kicked out of the band, he made his choice himself, and we decided to go out as a band and work, because we wanted to play. Whether he comes back or not, only the good lord can answer that question!


Mark: I was just looking at some of the things you’re up to at the moment, you have a lot on! You have the TV show; you’re working on material with Steven Adler, X Guns N Roses, and also there’s talk of an album of originals at some point in 2015, can you tell us about these?


Chip: Sure, Mark. Besides the Adler’s Enough  record, which is a five song EP, I recorded with Steve at my studio, a couple of years ago I also had a solo record, I put it out last year, it’s called Johnnie Rotten Jr, but the record company’s asked me to put it out and call it Chip Z Nuff, so, I’ll have two records coming out this year, Chip Z’Nuff solo record which is called “The Death of Harry Potter” and the “Adler’s Enough”,  which is a five song EP, featuring  Steven Adler and Dale Bozzio from Missing Persons. Then I’ve decided I’m going to put out a new record next year, I’d love to have another Enuff Z Nuff album, I have a plethora of material, we have so many songs, I’m so used to Donnie’s voice on all these recordings that I’ve made, it’s going to be tough to figure it out. But Monaco and I have talked about it, along with Erik Donner, our drummer, and the guys are just totally stoked about putting together a new record. Next year will bring new opportunities, but, right now I just want to focus on these three records. It’s a lot of material to put out in one year, most bands put out one record every five years or something, and here I am with three records in one year! It’s almost too much, it’s pretty self-indulgent! However, I’m real proud of all the material; there are movie sound tracks, TV commercials, lots of opportunities out there, and for all the artists that are reading this, we are one hit away from being back in the game again!

Mark: That’s great to hear! How does creativity work for you? How do you write your songs, does it just come to you, do you constantly write, do you put time aside to write music, how does it work for you?
Chip: I write, when I’m inspired, Mark, I don’t constantly write, but let’s face it, I’ve written 3-400 songs for Enuff z Nuff! It’s real simple, it could be a cigarette, ash tray, a lipstick, a beautiful woman, there are really so many scenarios, I can’t really pin point, John Lennon, said it best , “all great songs have already been written, it’s up to us as artists to pull them down and turn you on to them!” Show me a guy without influences, and I’ll show you a guy without a record deal!


Mark: I guess for Enuff z Nuff, the obvious influences were bands like The Beatles, is that where it all started for you?


Chip: It started with my mother and father, who let me stay up late at night and watch King Biscuit Flower Hour or Wolfman Jack, they were old, old, television shows that were on late at night, and I’d see bands like Alice Cooper and The Kinks, and Queen.


Mark: It is timeless all that sort of music.


Chip: I want to say The Beatles because they were a huge influence, but I was too young then to appreciate that, I didn't discover The Beatles until they’d arrived!


Mark: Paul McCartney is going around at the moment I think, and he’s getting some pretty good reviews. The last time I saw you guys live was at Rocklahoma in 2008, just to take you back in time for a second, and that’s when I grabbed a copy of the “Dissonance” album, which I was listening to today. It’s a pretty good album; can you tell us why it didn’t get the original release back in 2008, and why it came out in 2010?


Chip: the reason it didn’t come out is because there’s a lot of baggage with Enuff Z Nuff! Our reputation is not stellar, we have great songs, we know that, without sounding modest, and our appearance didn’t always fit, however, our behaviour caught up to us, and the record company’s just wouldn’t take a chance. The ones that did said, yeah, we like the record, you guys are a great band, but we want it for free! Everybody wanted stuff for free, so we just had to hold out and wait, and sometimes you do that, and it works out to be in your best interest. We got two record companies, Rock Candy in England, and King Records in Japan, and they’ve kept us going over the past 25 years. Coincidentally, because those record companies grabbed on to the band, we were able to go out and tour and support those records, and that’s kept the band alive up to this point. It’s not like we’re like The Beatles where you can sleep walk in to another billion dollars, we worked hard beyond belief, to make these records happen, and let me just end this by saying God writes my songs!! Hahaha! That’ll cause some commotion, right there!!

Mark: That’s fantastic! Looking back over the 30 years, which albums stand out for you?


Chip: The “Covered in Gold” record, that’s our best record right now! All these cover songs are showing our influences, and wearing our influences on our sleeves, that’s our crème de la crème for our career  right now, sure the first record started it off, but this record, right here has got a lot of juice!


Mark: It’s a great listen! I was listening to it this morning, and it’s great to hear some of those songs, and especially some of the ones that you wouldn’t expect, I love the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Tears of a Clown”, and it’s always nice to hear a bit of Queen on there! The one I didn’t expect was the Nirvana cover.


Chip: The good thing about this record is that it’s new to the kids, the kids are digging what we have, they’re digging that scene right now, and they’re telling their friends about it at school, because these are songs they recognise, putting together a whole original record, why not get their attention? These songs have already been hits, hence the title on the record cover, because all these songs were gold records, they are all great bands that left an indelible mark, and we’re just wearing our influences on our sleeves, and America’s talking!


Mark: It is great to see the record charting this early on. If you could have been involved with the creation of any great album, at any point in time, what would that album be for you?


Chip: probably The Beatles, “White Album”, a very diverse album, showing all the different sides of the band, they really experimented with that and took a lot of chances. And, possibly early Queen that was a band that always tripped my trigger, Freddy Mercury, was probably one of the greatest singers of all time.


Mark: Our easy question, to close with. What is the meaning of life?


Chip: Frankie Yankovic, “Who Stole the Keeshka”! Hahaha


Mark: Very original!! We’ve not heard that one before! Thank you so much for talking to us.


Chip: How many people cite him as an influence, Frankie?? We would love to come out to Australia one day and play a couple of shows. Any promoters out there let ‘em know, as I would love to get on a plane, and fly for 20 hours to come and play!! I know we have some fans out there, and I would love to say thank you for all the years of support.


Mark: You have a lot of great fans over here and I’m sure plenty enough to make that happen, let’s see what we can do! It would be great to see Enuff Z Nuff here in Australia. I think you guys would enjoy it as well. Thanks for the music over the last 30 years, we’ve been with you all the way, and may that success continue with the new album.


Chip: Thanks, Mark; I appreciate your kind words, my friend. And my last parting words to everybody are, may the best thing that happened to you last year, be the worst thing that happens to you this year! God, bless you all.

 

 

Chip spoke to Mark Diggins October 2014

 

 

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