My name is Chip Z'Nuff. I was born September 10th. I live in Chicago and I put the band together, Enuff Z'Nuff, with Donnie in 1983 in a little town called Blue Island. In 17 years we've went through six guitar players, two drummers, and we've made ten full length albums. And we've released them all worldwide. We've had a couple of hits in the past. Songs like "High On A New Thing", "Fly High Michelle", and on our new album there's 12 songs. Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins took time out of his busy schedule to perform and play a song with us. And we've got a video for the first single called "There Goes My Heart" which comes out January 22nd. And we'll be on tour supporting the record next year, hopefully throughout the year.
Your songs always seem to have quite a heavy Beatles influence. Who are some of your other influences?
There are so many to mention but just off the top of my head: Led Zeppelin, Queen, David Bowie, Mott The Hoople. And then on the American side of things: Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and countless Jethro Tull, love progressive rock. Real prominent era with real strong musical bands. Always liked the English stuff and then nowadays I like the new Stone Temple Pilots record. I think they're a terrific band. And I love bands like Lenny Kravitz and the Black Crows. I think they're great. I listen to a lot of different stuff. Of course I like Sly And The Family Stone and Stevie Wonder. Know the guy. I used to listen to that all the time. A lot of old blues and R & B. It's a lot of influences but you just try and mix them all up together so it's like a big potpourri of sounds. And those songs and those bands are timeless. Of course their music will be around forever so there's no reason to copy it but show me a band without influences and I'll show you a band without a record deal.
You were interested in a minor league baseball career and instead you wound up in music. Have you ever looked back?
Yeah I'm bitter and pissed off about that. With the salaries that pitchers are getting right now I could have financed this band forever. It would be like The Rolling Stones in our mind. We'd never envision ending. In all seriousness, though, I have more to say writing songs then throwing a slider, or a forked ball, or a curved ball. Still love the competitiveness of sports. I still follow it. I'm a ball player. A lot of friends are ball players too. Just love music.
You guys took off with "New Thing" and "Fly High Michelle" off your debut album. Was that a lot of luck or was radio airplay and MTV a big factor?
There was a big factor. Anytime you get played on the radio you reach that many more people and your odds go really much better. And of course throw MTV into the mix, you really have a chance. It was a combination of both of them. I'm very grateful to have that opportunity too because it doesn't happen a lot.
Is it hard to get your stuff promoted on the radio now and as far as getting videos played, how difficult is that?
I think it's hard for any band to get their records played on the radio and get their videos played. I don't care how great it is and who you are unless you have a novelty. Something that people react right away to like who let the dog out. It's pretty much going to be an uphill battle or you're in a band that's already huge like a U2 or you're going to get some favors. It's going to be tough for anybody I think. And for all bands, not just us. Every band that puts a record out and has a career like Enuff Z'Nuff does, you're going to be stygmitized. And the record companies are going to be looking for the newer stuff, fresh new material, new bands. That's the way the game is played.
You guys had to overcome the glam thing. Is it difficult to get people to pay attention to the music?
I'm not so sure if we've ever got over the glam stygmitism. We certainly haven't got over as well as bands like Pantera or Metallica when they came out and they were colorful and flamboyant and glam. No one said anything. They somehow walked through wearing their boots well and got away with it. I think that there'll always be people listening with their eyes instead of their ears. It's understandable. We're grateful for what we are and where we've gone so far and our music speaks for itself. And at the end of the day that's all that really matters. If you like the work you've done, the people like your work, it's great. Our job is a very glorified job but the life expectancy is very short. We're grateful that we've had the opportunity to make ten albums right now. When we put the band together we never cared about failure. We always thought we'd be like The Rolling Stones. It'll last forever. We'll be rocking until we're 70. Not that we don't feel that way now but we know it's much tougher out there. There's many more bands. There's not enough room on radio to get played. It's real tough out there. Unless you have a record company that's behind you that has a truck full of money, you're in trouble.
I've always liked the combination of the visual and the music. It was nice to see guys fixing themselves up and looking hot compared to how they look today.
Well we certainly didn't look like guys who had nine to five jobs. This is our life obviously, playing music. That's what we do. That's the gig that we chose. Please don't feel sorry for us. And those videos were great. I love colorful videos. I like bands that are flamboyant. I love rock stars. There's not a lot of them out there anymore.
The songwriting is always spectacular. Where do you guys get your inspirations from?
Donnie and I come from different schools. I think that the combination has been very special. With his Beatle influenced side and my progressive rock side mixed together. I think it makes a real nice combination and I would like to think that we have a signature sound when you hear his voice or you hear me singing. You know it's us when you hear our songs. Most of the songs we only write about stuff that we know about so basically we're writing about stuff that happens in our lives that we went through and it just so happens to be you people went through it too. You write what you know about.
I've always enjoyed the harmonies because you and Donnie blend so well together when you sing.
He's a good singer. I'll tell you anybody who'll sing with Donnie will sound good. He makes me sound good. He's got great pipes. He's one of the last of a dying breed because now it's a whole different trip out on the music scene. It's more about talking and about rapping. There's not really a lot of singing out there with rock bands. That's why I think we stand out. There's actually a lot of melody in our songs. Besides half of the bands that are out there singing, there's not many out there. I think that we're right up there with the best of them. And when I'm on the road and I run into guys like Stephen Tyler, one of the greatest rock stars ever, or Robin Zander from Cheap Trick or even Kid Rock, they all say that Donnie is an influence and a great singer. That's very special. And at the end of the day when these records are finished no one hears these songs unless we like them. They have to pass a test with us first. It's pretty special to be a writer, to be able to write songs. First of all, these songs have already been written. It's up to us as musicians and songwriters to pull them out and show you and how many more different things you can do out there, everything's been written already. I'm always scared to death of putting a record out, if our stuff is going to be vital, if it's going to hold up. But really, looking back, at our luck so far, I would hope that our stuff would stand the test of time. I listen to some of our music, I think it's really good stuff there. But unless people hear it, it's a futile effort. But as long as we're happy about it I guess we can't really complain. And we are happy with the records that we make. It's good to hear people like you acknowledge us because there's a lot of other things in the world going on right now, a lot more important.
Tell us a little bit about your new album Ten.
Well we called it Ten for lack of a better title. When we first put the record together we had no budget and no record company. We had deals over in Europe and Japan, over in another part of the world but we didn't have anything over here in the States. At least nothing concrete. So what we would do is we went in every single studio in Chicago. We went where Smashing Pumpkins were recording their record, a place called Chicago Recording Company. And we talked to the studio owner and he let us come in the studio real late at night at one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning and record during janitor's hours where we could do it much cheaper because we had no budget. We hired Chris Shepard who had done the last Filco record and Smashing Pumpkins. He came in and engineered. That was great. And then we went over to Gravity Studios where Brusal was and the studio really liked the band and he said "let's go. You guys come in here and record one song." So we went in there and recorded one song in one day. And then we went over to Mel Beschers Studios where Liz Phair is making her record and we talked with the studio guy who let us come in there late at night again and we recorded a couple of songs over there. We just kept hitting all the studios everywhere. All the great studios. We're friends with the guys from Disturbed, a band, giant. They're doing really well now. They're from the Oak Lawn area. And they were recording at a studio called Johnny K's. Groove Master Studio, Johnny K's the engineer. So we went in there and we recorded a couple of songs on Ten. And then last but not least we finished up the stuff at a place called Star Trax out in Crestwood, IL where INXS did their last recordings and Blondie was in there. We wanted to go where all the big leaders were making records but we wanted to do a shoestring budget and we happened to pull it off. And then we took the record after we were in considerable debt and we shopped the labels and Spitfire happened to be the one that signed us.
You had Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins on this album and I know you had some guest appearances on Paraphernalia. How do you get people interested in appearing on your albums?
Well it's a nice musical community here in Chicago. We grew up listening to Styx and REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick and Smashing Pumpkins. All the bands are from the Midwest. They've all left an indelible mark where they've sold hundreds of millions of records collectively. After we finished the ninth album, Paraphernalia, we didn't know what we could do to help elevate our perception except maybe get some of our rock star buddies to come down and play with us. So I asked them. I ran into Billy Corgan at the Metro in Chicago. He was speaking at a producers engagement and I literally chased him down the hall and handed him our record and said I'd love you to come down and play on this album with us. And he'd seen that we recorded "Everything Works If You Let It", the old Cheap Trick song. And it used to be in a movie called "The Roadie" and it produced a cult hit for Cheap Trick but not really known very well. And Billy said "listen. Out of all the Cheap Trick songs that were recorded, that's like one of my favorites songs ever". He'd just got off a tour and he said "yeah I'll come on down and play some". So he came down and played with us. Played on a couple of songs actually. Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick I just called him on the phone and I just started giving him the whole spiel. "Donnie and I are in the studio recording and we have a deal" and he said "Stop, stop. I'll be glad to come down and play with you guys". So he came down and played on like three songs. And that same day it just so happens that James Young, JY from Styx, came down the same day Rick was playing with us and I talked him into plugging in and playing a couple of songs. So in like a two day, in a long weekend, I got Rick Nielsen and James Young from Styx and Billy Corgan to come down and play guitar on the record which was a miracle. That's something that lasts forever. No one ever can take that away from us. Working with some of the greatest guys in the country. We've done records, Donnie and I, in the past with the guys from Journey and Steve Miller's band and Sly And The Family Stone. We've worked with some really, really good players. Steve Stevens, Billy Idol, and just to have these guys come down and plug their guitars in and play with us is really a miracle. And that's basically what we are is four guys from Chicago who play for miracles. It was only fitting that they came down and played and I listened to the record and I thought on this new album, the Ten album that we just released, I think it's great that everything works so good on the record. Having Billy Corgan's guitar way up in the mix because I know that the Smashing Pumpkins were ending their run after all these years so if you couldn't get enough of Billy Corgan you can put on an Enuff Z'Nuff album and check it out.
It was rather disappointing to a lot of people that Smashing Pumpkins all of a sudden called it quits like that.
Well it was the end of the run for him. It was time to let it go. He felt that after all these years he had made some great music with the band and it was time to take another road. He'll be back out there playing. He's too talented, too creative to not want to get back out there and play in some band. I predict his next thing will be real, real hard and heavy. He always leaned toward metal.
Three of the songs that I really like off the new album are "Wake Up", "Holiday", and "Your Heart's No Good But I Love Your Face". What are some of your favorites off of it?
I like that one. I'm happy with those choices. You have good taste. You have good ears. I mean if I'm going to go to rock radio right now with a song I'd probably go with "Fly Away" or the "Gene Genie" because those are good rock songs. But if you're going to take the stuff that's not as aggressive, it's pretty obvious that "There Goes My Heart", that's a smash hit. Take the name off it and you put Stone Temple Pilots next to it or Lenny Kravitz or somebody and that song's a smash and it still might be a smash next year. We don't know. Miracles do happen. But "Wake Up" is in a movie. It's coming out. It's a soundtrack of a movie. It's called "Getaway". It comes out next year. Stephen Baldwin and Michael Ironside are the main actors in it. And I forgot who the girl was. Some beautiful goddess. I think it's Rebecca Romain Stavos. Somebody like that is the actess in the movie. It'll be out next year. So that's nice for "Wake Up". "Your Heart's No Good But I Love Your Face" has been covered by a couple of other bands that are releasing that song next year on their albums also. We've had a couple of chances here getting our music out where other people are going to hear it. I always like to hear that. It's good for my ego.
You guys always sound great live and I've been told that a lot of people use overdubs to get a better live sounds. Is that just a lack of talent or do some bands need that more than others?
Well it sounds great when you use tapes and sequencers and have guys backstage. It always sounds better. It's more consistent because every song is great and there's less pressure on the band. I personally would love to do that if I knew how to do that. We don't though so we just plug in our guitars and we sing. What you see is what you get. What you hear is what you get. And that's how concerts used to be and they're always different. They're always up in the air. You don't know what to expect and I like that. There's a beauty to that. I'm a fan of tapes and sequencing whenever I see bands whether it's Def Leppard or Marilyn Manson or Kid Rock, Nine Inch Nails, Aerosmith. A guy backstage or someone who helps do the sounds so it sounds closer to the record. So you keep the authenticity of the record. I think that's good. It's always good to sound close to your albums. There's still a few of us who just play live and don't use anything.
And still sound close to your albums.
Still sound pretty close, yeah. I mean the bands I just mentioned, those people sound great live every night.
I had seen that you have a David Bowie cover and a Cheap Trick cover on the new CD. I've always felt that cover tunes are a good thing to have on CDs. It gives you a different perspective on the song.
Absolutely. And I think it's important to be aware of your influences. Don't be afraid to play some songs by bands that you've loved before. We didn't mean to have two covers on the record. Believe me, we have a lot of songs. We just wanted to make a ten song record basically. And adding in a couple of bonus tracks, that was great. It just so happens that the record company loved the songs. Loved the way they came out. The David Bowie "Gene Genie", it's always been a cult favorite. I can hear that getting played everywhere. "Everything Works If You Let It", well we've got Billy Corgan on that so there's an excuse to use that one too. So no you can't go wrong. You're absolutely right. Sometimes it's better when we open our shows, when we're opening for a national act, to just open a set with a cover song. Then people are more susceptible to hearing your songs after that.
I love the cover ya'll do of "Jealous Guy" by John Lennon. That's always been a favorite of mine.
Yeah we're big Beatles fans obviously. I love doing that song. It's great. We do it in concert. Donnie really sounds close to it. It's really eerie. He sounds just like Lennon. It's beautiful.
Do you find more success overseas than in the U. S. and do you get promote more overseas?
I don't know about that. We do well overseas because we don't live there. We show up every couple of years and play. We have a diehard cult following. I don't know where we're bigger. We're known all around the world. Because of guys like David Letterman and Howard Stern and Mancow and all those radio guys who talk about us whether it's good or bad. We're always in the press for something. Usually for problems. We're a band that has a tendency to get in trouble at any single moment. By the way we do. We're really good guys. It just so happens that we just slip and fall a lot. We always get back up though. I admire our strut.
I remember you talking about the tabloid issue a while back. When you paid for some gas and they thought you were taking a tabloid.
You guys are on the tribute CD Fire Woman which is a tribute to the Cult and you perform the song "She Sells Sanctuary". How did you get involved with that?
The record company called us on the phone and said "we love Enuff Z'Nuff. We'd love you to cover a song we have by way of the Thrill Kill Kult, Jake E. Lee, Jimmy Craspo from Aerosmith and a bunch of other really strong musicians to come down and play on this record. A lot of people really love the Cult. They've got more than a cult following that's for sure. So we went in the studio one night, late at night. Ten, eleven o'clock at night. It was right before midnight I remember. We recorded the song in a couple of hours. Finished it and sent it off to the record company. They heard it and loved it. They picked the song by the way. We didn't really know too many Cult songs. I knew that one from the Nissan commercial. Not that I didn't listen to the Cult that much because I'm sort of aware of what they were doing but I wasn't this huge, devoted listener. Then when I listened to their version of it, I realized that they're really good and that the singer had a real high range. They had their own sound. I should say they have their own sound. I think it's a nice little record that Versaille Records is putting together. And we're glad to be part of it. You can't go wrong.
I notice these days they put out a lot of tribute CDs. It would be nice to see one done for you guys.
You can't go wrong covering a band that smokes more than Peter Tosh or Bob Marley, okay?
Yeah I guess you're right about that.
They're a real rock and roll band and I hope they like the that version we did.
Paraphernalia put you guys on your first Japanese tour. How did that go?
Fantastic. We show up over in Japan. Fans waiting in the airport for you. Following you around everywhere. Every single show completely sold out. Just great concerts. Just a wonderful time. For all the beatings and all the adversity that we've had to deal with here in the United States, to go over there and be loved like we'd loved to be received here in the States was quite shocking and quite frankly we had no idea. We were pleasantly surprised. It was a great country to play. We'll be going back there again I'm sure.
Howard Stern has always been a big supporter of you guys. Are you guys still pretty close?
We love him. We just haven't heard anything from him in a while. Nobody in the band has fake tits or got an operation and nobody in the band has got any real stories to tell him right now for him to put us on his show to promote us. If there was a story I'm sure he'd have us back on there but consequently because we haven't had a hit in five or six years, he's already done a lot for us in the past. He's not about to step over the foul line to help us anymore I don't think. At least that's what Boy Gary Deldotti the horse toothed jackass tells us.
Yeah I've seen some of Howard Stern's shows on the E! Channel. Very interesting
Here's a guy we're pretty good friends with. He's done a lot for our career so we have to do something for ourselves before we can hope to come again I think. I don't know what that would be because we've certainly made great records and we've toured and promoted them but I remember when we were on his television show he said "don't ever turn your back on me and I won't turn my back on you guys". We haven't turned our back on him but obviously he's been too busy to get us on the show for one reason or another but I don't think there was ever any falling out and we're grateful for what he's done for us in the past.
It was said that you paid homage to John Lennon on December 8th which was the anniversary of his murder and I remember being in school when they talked about that and I was wondering where you were that day.
I was going to court downtown in Chicago. I had a traffic violation. That was a drag as it was and then eight o'clock in the morning they announced on the radio - 7:30, 8:00 in the morning and I was sick to my stomach. It was the first non-family member or really personal friend, somebody that I didn't even know, it was very emotional. It brought a tear to my eye, brought tons of tears to my eyes because he was such a profound, prolific writer. He left such an indelible mark around the country with his music and his songs were so strong. It was almost as if we did know him even though we didn't. I just went out to the Strawberry Fields to pay respect to John Lennon and his music and wave to Yoko Ono. She was waving a candle by the window. We all waved to her and to share time with all the people that were to pay respect to John. Everybody was smoking pot and playing guitars and singing. There was 5-6000 people out there easily. You have never seen anything like this. Twenty years after a guy's death and there's 6000 people show up on your doorstep to party with you? Elvis doesn't have parties like that. And promptly here in New York I heard there was 12 arrests that night out of over 6000 people they had 12 arrests. That's pretty good. Out of the 12 arrests, 11 of them were for smoking marijuana. Which is so ridiculous. Don't these guys have anything better to do?
You would think in New York they would.
I got away with it. I was hiding behind a guitar too with a bunch of people around.
Well I think they should have expected something like that.
I could have used Donnie there because he knows every single Beatles song there is. But I had everybody singing with me so it didn't matter.
You guys have re-released several of your CDs. Someone was wondering if Animals With Human Intelligence" was one of them.
Yeah we just re-released that. It just came out and they're doing a wonderful job re-releasing the record. It looks great. I have to thank Clive Davis at Arista Records. The people at Arista for giving us the opportunity to re-release the record. Of course you've got to thank Spitfire too for believing in the band and wanting to put the record back out again. It's one of our best records. It's really sonic. A great record that cost us years and years of our lives. Hundreds of thousands of dollars for that record. They pulled up with a truck full of money to make that record and we did it in Chicago and Los Angeles. It was during the L. A. riots. It was just so many stories that we got during that time. I don't want to bore anybody but a real tough time for us. We're real proud of that album and consequently it's the last album we've done on a major label since.
Well it's definitely a big favorite of mine. Someone wanted to know what it was like hanging with the BiSapiens at Philly Music Conference last year.
We had a good time with them. They smoke like chimneys okay? But we really had a lot of fun. That was a blur during the whole trip because we constantly were doing interviews and we played like three or four gigs out there during that little extended trip. Philadelphia has always been good to us. Last time we were in Philadelphia we sang the national anthem at the Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. They were playing the Boston Red Sox. So anytime we go to Philly there's a big smile on our face because it's a great rock and roll town and fantastic at sports too. We're 76ers fans. Oh my God I can tell you some really good stories about us partying with the basketball players. It's a real good down to earth city of brotherly love town.
This one Brazilian Enuff Z'Nuff fan contacted me. He was all excited about the interview and he had a couple of questions. One of them was is the Enuff Z'Nuff official bootleg video 1989-2000 video still available for sale.
It's being re-released again. We've decided to add some videos on to it. So it'll be out next year.
And he also wanted to know if you knew anything about Derek Frigo and Vikki Fox having a new band.
No. I know they've been playing together. Doing some recording. I know Vik was out with the Bulletboys for a little while. He was playing drums for the Bulletboys but he's no longer with them because I just talked to the singer of the band. They're back in the studio recording a record with Andy Johns who did all the Led Zeppelin stuff so that'll be great and last I heard Vik and Frigo were both doing demos and Derek was playing guitar for the UPN network.
I know that Monaco has a band called Low-Tek. How's that going for him?
Monaco's band Low-Tek? Recording all the time. A cross between Marilyn Manson meets Sweet. Really good. He's singing and playing guitar. No solos. Just really aggressive, really hard rock. Really angst but it is melodic. And I think people will be pleasantly surprised when they hear it. I wish he'd play more guitar because the guy is phenomenal with guitars but it's a whole different approach to Enuff Z'Nuff. And it's really good. I'm not just saying that either. He's pretty focused when it comes to his playing guitar. He's a GIT graduate. Just to play the old stuff from our older records is real difficult because there's some pretty good guitar playing on there but it's not a problem for him whatsoever. Real solid player. Real solid singer. I'd like to see that record get out next year. He's still finishing things up. He's been going to different studios and just recording songs. He's probably got about two albums of material right now and he's looking at next year releasing something maybe the middle of the year.
Well with everybody else doing solo stuff have you and Donnie ever thought about doing solo stuff or do you just like to stay together as a band?
We like to stay together as a band but Donnie did a solo record last year. And that might see the light of day next year.
That would be something to look forward to. Yeah it's real good. As far as myself goes, I've been offered the opportunity.
When can we expect a major tour from you guys?
February of next year we may be out with Michael Monroe and 23 cities. It starts in February.
Any other comments?
May the best thing that happened to everybody this year be the worst that happens to them next year. Go out and buy the Ten album. We want to get in people's houses. Got to take it to the street. Real primitive approach this time just like the old days. Get on the bus and go hit the road. Go as long as you can. Lot of sacrifices believe me. A very selfish life we have here. We make the records, tell our families and loved ones that we're leaving, and we go on the road. See ya when I see ya.