CHIP Z’NUFF INTERVIEW:
May 6, 2010
Websites: www.enuffznuff.com – www.myspace.com/znuff – www.chipznuffstudios.com
Interviewer: Grant W.
Ask people about Enuff Z’Nuff bassist Chip Z’Nuff and I’m sure some of the responses you’ll get will include phrases along the lines of ‘a real gentleman’, ‘a truly gifted musician’, ‘one of the hardest working guys in the business’ and ‘someone who likes his pot’. Along with Donnie Vie, Chip has been the roots of Enuff Z’Nuff since 1985, and they are probably more baffled than their fans as to why they have never enjoyed more mainstream success. Maybe that’s just the way it was meant to be with Enuff Z’Nuff – maybe that’s part of the magic – maybe being super famous isn’t in the script for them, but what they have achieved is album after album of continually strong material that is still as exciting now as it was over 25 years and 14 albums ago. In this exclusive interview, Sleaze Roxx’ Grant W. catches up long distance with his long time friend Chip Z’Nuff.
Sleaze Roxx: How are you doing Chip?
Chip Z’Nuff: Very good over here, it’s a lovely day in Chicago.
Sleaze Roxx: It must have been about two months ago now, but you guys did another European tour, this time with Faster Pussycat. How did the whole tour go this time around? Were there any stand out moments?
Chip Z’Nuff: Yeah, us travelling around in our old 1969 Rolling Stones tour bus, which was almost famous. There were 15 guys on the bus, Dirty Passion from Sweden, Enuff Z’Nuff and Faster Pussycat — all on the one bus. The first show was in London, a great night with tons of people, it just felt really great to go back out there and play. It always feels like a second home, and then right after that, that’s when we started running into all the trouble. We got to Paris and played the show but we got outta there late and got searched out there, then we got to Italy and got pulled over there and it seemed like every city we played there was some kinda turmoil or getting searched, but that’s all part of the tour though. Every night we played fans came out to see us, we have new record company and it was important for us to reacquaint ourselves with our British brothers and sisters.
Sleaze Roxx: I’m not surprised you got stopped all the time because I saw the state of that tour bus and it was a bit of a wreck to put it mildly.
Chip Z’Nuff: Yeah, but as terrible as it was everyone would rather have been out on a bus touring than back home. The bus was in such disarray, we had a great driver but the bus wasn’t up to date or up to standards. It was just illegal in every way ‘cos there were a lot of people on it and it didn’t meet the laws in Europe.
Sleaze Roxx: When you looked over on stage and saw Donnie Vie back on vocals again, how did that feel?
Chip Z’Nuff: That’s always great, it’s one of the reasons I do this. It was real important for him to get back out to Europe, as its been seven years since we’ve toured there with him and it was important for us to get back out there and let everybody know that we have a new record and we’re out playin’ it and the band hasn’t really changed much. The shows were just jammed packed every night and there was so much action out there it was like being back in the late 80’s early 90’s.
Sleaze Roxx: I met guitarist Tory Stoffregen for the first time and had a quick word with him after one of the shows. He seems like a really nice guy, how do you meet up?
Chip Z’Nuff: When we were recording the record with Jake E. Lee, we knew Jake wouldn’t come out on the tour because he has his own solo stuff, however we found Tory through a mutual friend. He’d played with Michael Wagner who did all the Ozzy Osbourne stuff and if Michael’s working with you it means you must be pretty good. He was the perfect fit, he came down and he knows the band’s history, he’s a great guitarist and singer.
Sleaze Roxx: I know drummer Randi Scott decided to stay at home this time around, obviously he has family commitments and I got thinking, nowadays how difficult is it to do a tour when you consider the finance, the transport, the hotels and the roadies. How do you even start to think about that and still break even?
Chip Z’Nuff: It’s all part of the gig my friend. Enuff Z’Nuff has had enough success that we’ve been through the mill and we know what we have to do to make it work.
Sleaze Roxx: Some of your fans follow you throughout the country, you have to admit that Enuff Z’Nuff have some of the most dedicated fans out there. What do you think keeps pulling them back to the shows?
Chip Z’Nuff: The songs I would hope… and we’re all pretty decent blokes without sounding modest, we have quite a discography, we’ve been around for quite a long time. We put out brand new fresh material every year and folks appreciate that we’ve stayed together through tough times. There’s always been a black cloud hovering over this band, so for us to still be going right now is a blessing. To quote my grandfather, “We’re not built to last, but hopefully our work is”.
Sleaze Roxx: It will, trust me! On the subject of fan loyalty, you’ve toured Japan a few times including fairly recently. What’s it like over there in terms of the fan reception and the whole hysteria thing?
Chip Z’Nuff: It’s just a whole different culture and one that we’ve embraced from the very beginning since we put the band together. I remember our manager Herbie Herbert saying that we just can’t stay here in the United States, we gotta get out there because its bigger out there and if they like you then they’ll love you forever. We’ve been going to Japan since 1989, and the same thing with Europe. When the record wasn’t even out there we went over and did a promotional tour, so we have a lot of loyalty to those countries. We can still do this for a while, there’s no reason why we should stop making records and touring, but there’s nothing like having your peers and the fans accept what you’re doing. If no-one cared we probably wouldn’t be making the records, except for ourselves. However, there’s still an audience out there and we’re grateful to still be making records. Because of the success of Dissonance in Japan, which will soon come out in Europe, we’re talking about doing another record.
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s talk about the new album Dissonance. It’s out in Japan at the moment, when can we see it officially released in Europe and the States?
Chip Z’Nuff: It should be out on June 5th I think.
Sleaze Roxx: I was lucky enough to get one of the guys on the Enuff Z’Nuff Board to get me a copy of Dissonance from Rocklahoma and I absolutely love it. How was it to record again with Donnie Vie, did you both fall back into it easily?
Chip Z’Nuff: It was simple, he came down with ideas and both of us sat down. In fact we rented a mansion and both of us came up with ideas together. Donnie is just very creative, has beautiful pipes and is one of the best writers I’ve ever worked with that’s for sure. Once we got in the studio it started off a little slow with all of us, but once we got the vision of what we wanted to do, instead of just making a record for making a record’s sake, then it became something special. I think we nailed it. We came up with twenty five or thirty ideas and then just put the best eleven on the record, but there’s a lot of other stuff in the kitty too.
Sleaze Roxx: Talking about what’s in the kitty, you have so many unreleased songs of great quality. I found eight CDs the other day, all of unreleased material, and I was going through them, listening to them, and thinking there are some amazing songs on here. You have such a massive catalogue of stuff that’s never even been released.
Chip Z’Nuff: Some of the stuff that we felt was strong slipped through the cracks, the rest are just demos, but evidently, like I’m a fan of Queen or Jellyfish or Cheap Trick, they want to hear our stuff too which is nice. There is a reason why those songs didn’t come out, we just didn’t feel they were ready sonically, or maybe they weren’t well written enough in our minds.
Sleaze Roxx: One of my favorite songs on Dissonance is Roll Away, and I don’t know how you manage it, but you consistently write ballads that are amazing. Songs like Downhill and Innocence, how do you manage to achieve that on every single album?
Chip Z’Nuff: Donnie’s got a great sense of balance, he comes out with these tunes and basically it’s finished when he shows me it. When he shows me on an acoustic guitar we could just record it like that as far as I’m concerned, it’s gonna be great.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s your favorite track on the album?
Chip Z’Nuff: I don’t have a particular favorite, but I’m a big fan of Dissonance because it shows a rougher edge to the band which you don’t often see with Enuff Z’Nuff. I love them all, I really do, but there’s other stuff on there that trips my trigger too, like Fine Line, and if you look at High, it really talks about today. I love the lyrics on it. On the UK version there’s a couple of covers on there too. We did a cover of Prince under their management’s supervision, When Doves Cry and also Run For Your Life.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you come to meet up with Jake E. Lee?
Chip Z’Nuff: We were in Las Vegas recording and there was a suggestion from one of the producers that we should look into a few guys doing a cameo on a song or two. So we asked Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses, but at that time he wasn’t available. However Jake E. Lee was and he came down and checked out the tunes and did a few songs. We gotta give credit to the producer on the record for that.
Sleaze Roxx: You mentioned Las Vegas, originally Dissonance was floating about on the internet, being bootlegged as Lost In Vegas. Was that where the title came from?
Chip Z’Nuff: Nah, that was just a working title that Donnie and I had. Then getting closer to the record, Donnie came down with a couple of heavier tunes, because the record was originally a little softer than anticipated, we thought it would be a little harder. I came down with a couple of heavy ones at the end of the record and that’s the way it shaped up and we ended up calling it the title track, Dissonance.
Sleaze Roxx: I know I’m probably jumping the gun a bit because Dissonance is just coming out, but can we expect to see more collaborations and more Enuff Z’Nuff albums to follow in the next few years?
Chip Z’Nuff: I’d like to see that, only time will tell. As long as Donnie and I can keep writing songs we’ll put out records.
Sleaze Roxx: What are the plans with Steven Adler then? On Adler’s Appetite you play bass right?
Chip Z’Nuff: Yeah, I recorded a five song EP with Adler and right now I’m not exactly sure what’s gonna happen. I’m sure we’re gonna put it out, I just don’t know in what capacity. Right now Steven is busy with his book My Appetite For Destruction, which is getting ready to come out, and he’s got a book tour coming up. So I’m sure through July and August he’ll be playing a lot of festivals and concerts.
Sleaze Roxx: I only spoke to you briefly in Newcastle and I said let’s do this interview and you said to me that you hoped to be back in the UK at some point, now I hear that you have some great news about a few festivals coming up.
Chip Z’Nuff: I think everyone will know about it, it’s one of the biggest festivals every year in England, which is Download at Castle Donnington. We’ll be playing there for two nights on June 12th and 13th on the Jagermeister stage — unplugged like the old MTV unplugged sets. We’ll also be playing Liverpool on the 10th of June and London at Barfly on the 15th. We’ve got this new agency who are terrific called X-Ray, they’re booking all these shows for us. We’ve got great agents and just a great team and we’re gonna come back to England at the end of the year for a couple more festivals.
Sleaze Roxx: I see you’re on the line-up for Hard Rock Hell in Wales too.
Chip Z’Nuff: Yeah there’s a couple of things, there’ll be more than that.
Sleaze Roxx: I don’t know if you know about Hard Rock Hell, it’s like a holiday camp. Have you ever heard of Butlins over there?
Chip Z’Nuff: No.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s like a holiday village, like chalet huts, so it’s basically going to be a rock community for several days which might be pretty cool. Anyway, I see you’re using Twitter now to keep in touch.
Chip Z’Nuff: Yeah, once in a while I drive around in my ’67 Mustang through L.A. at Steven Adler’s house and stop and chat to everybody and say hi. It’s just nice to be on there and let everyone know that I’m still out there. I’m not crazy about Twitter, but I appreciate it.
Sleaze Roxx: So how do we all sign up to follow you?
Chip Z’Nuff: It’s chip_znuff for Twitter and Facebook or get the details at www.chipznuffstudios.com.
Sleaze Roxx: Just winding up, I know you are pretty good friends with Bret Michaels because you toured a while ago with Poison over here. We should send our best wishes to Bret, yeah?
Chip Z’Nuff: You kidding me, I hail him. We go back a long way, we toured together, in fact on Poison’s only tour in Europe Enuff Z’Nuff was the support.
Sleaze Roxx: I remember it well.
Chip Z’Nuff: I remember one day I was coming down in the elevator and he got on at the first floor. We were getting ready to get on the bus and he said, “Chip would it be okay if I took a ride with you to the venue?” I said, “Why, what happened?” and he said, “The band left me behind”. I said, “yeah no problem, without you there’s no fucking show anyway”. So he got on the bus with us and we talked the whole way to the venue when he told me all about the condition he was going through and showed me what kind of medication he needed to take to get better. The last thing I heard right now is he had the brain hemorrhage, he’s in a special hospital in Arizona that deals with that kind of thing, and they’re concerned about why he’s not getting any sodium or salt. It’s also been speculated that there was a problem in his last surgery because it was major surgery and that could have caused a blood clot. I’ve even heard speculation that maybe he hurt his head when he got hit during the Tony Awards. Anyway he’s under 24 hour surveillance and the prognosis is day by day.
Sleaze Roxx: We wish him all the best. Anyway, I’m going to finish up, once again it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you and finding out a little more about Enuff Z’Nuff. I like to finish up by asking whoever I interview if they have one piece of advice that they would give to the folks out there at Sleaze Roxx?
Chip Z’Nuff: Yeah, don’t confuse motion with progress because that would be a shortcut to thinking.
Sleaze Roxx: Thanks once again, I hope to catch up with you in London on the tour and all the best with Dissonance.
Chip Z’Nuff: I didn’t get enough time to spend in London last time, so I hope to do a little shopping in Camden and a bite to eat ‘cos there are some great shops and restaurants.
Sleaze Roxx: If we meet up in London, we can sit down and have a bite to eat and I’ll buy you a nice meal.
Chip Z’Nuff: I look forward to it, thanks Grant.