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Chip Z’nuff – Enuff Z’nuff

Chip Z’nuff – Enuff Z’nuff

When Enuff Z’nuff first hit the airwaves in 1989 with their debut, self-titled album, they raised the music industry to a new level with their top ten singles “New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle.” Now, Bassist Chip Z’nuff along with bandmates Guitarists Tory Stoffregen and Alex Kane and drummer Daniel Benjamin Hill are releasing their latest amazing album Brainwashed Generation.

Catching up with Z’nuff while still deep in this Covid 19 pandemic, he revealed details about the album, what fans can look forward to, and the fact that he has added DJ to his resume of extraordinary talents.

Chip Z’nuff: How are you today, everything good out there?

SFL Music: It is, thank you. How about you?

Z’nuff: I can’t complain. Nice warm weather. I’m hidden in my studio here in Chicago. I do everything here. It’s pretty self-sufficient where you got your food and you got your laundry facilities and then you got the recording studios. Make records. Every single day, and do my radio show.

SFL Music: Wow, you have a radio show?

Z’nuff: Yeah. I’m on Dash radio which is the new, I guess you could call it, satellite radio. So, dashradio.com. Download the APP. I’m on six days a week. MONSTERS OF ROCK on the Dash radio network, and It’s massive. Sixteen million subscribers. I got a half a million people a day listening to the station. It’s great. I got a chance to play and celebrate the finest hard rock and heavy metal imaginable. I play all the bands from A through Z. The whole vocabulary. So, it’s a fun station to go on, and there’s other artists that are on the Dash Radio network as well, like Kylie Jenner and Snoop Dogg and B-Real, Rudy Sarzo. It’s a lot of cool people on the station that I hear, and I play for a lot of different guys. Eighty-three stations on Dash, and that’s what I do all week right now while we’re sequestered in our homes Lori.

SFL Music: Good for you. That’s awesome! Do you talk with people on the air?

Z’nuff: The other programs on Dash Radio, they actually do interviews. I’m just basically playing music and talking. That’s it. Nothing else. I’ll have seven songs in a row and I’ll just talk about the different bands that are coming up with things that are happening in the music industry that I know about, that I can share with the audience. The show exposes all my works and scars that I carry ok, (he laughed). It’s a good rock show. People love it and it’s real. It’s like me and you talking on the phone right now.

SFL Music: I’ll have to definitely look for that. Thank you for sharing this information.

Z’nuff: Dashradio.com. It’s real easy to find. Download the APP. It’s free and it’s on 24/7, 365 days a year. Commercial free.

SFL Music: That’s awesome. I’ll definitely share that and look for it myself. So, tell me about the new album Brainwashed Generation. How did it come about? What was the inspiration?

Z’nuff: Just writing songs. Last year, at the end of the year. We toured a lot. We did over 103 shows last year. Wonderful year for Enuff Z’nuff. We were on the Live Nation Tour with Jack Russell’s Great White. Before then we were out with Ace Frehley. Then we were doing a lot of dates where we were headlining. Did the Monsters of Rock Cruise. We were really staying busy. So, many wonderful things were happening for the band at the time of the record. We just came off the record Diamond Boy which was our first album to break the Billboard top 200 charts. It was a miracle for Enuff Z’nuff after all these years to finally get a chance to go out and tour. Play in conjunction with a brand-new record. So, at the end of the year, we were slowing down. I had a bunch of songs. A lot of mine was writing when I was on the road on tour with the band. Whether it came from Italy, or the UK or United States, I was just coming up with stuff and I would hum it into my phone. I had a great engineer, producer a guy named Ron Proesel. Does a lot of punk rock records, and I said, I’m gonna take a different approach on this record. I’m going to start off with him and see how it goes. By the way, I made the record in November, Brainwashed Generation. Didn’t just do that recently. Then we finished our tour over in Australia in March of this year. My lovely label Frontiers said, hey, we need that new record, and I went right in the studio. Just finished it all up. I called some great friends of mine to come and play with us, and when it was all said and done, we had a solid ten song rock record. I asked the label, most notably a guy down there named Nick Tieder. Just a genius guy in the business. He’s been doing this for a long time. Running a bunch of record labels, and he’s the big guy at Frontiers with Serafino (Perugino). Nick was the guy that told me, he goes Chip, don’t wait until the end of the year. Put the record out now. When things open up, you’re gonna look like a genius on this where you’ll be able to go out and tour, where everybody else is sitting back relaxing, waiting because of what we’re going through right now as a country. And low and behold, he was right, because the record comes out in July. We kick it off with a beautiful show. The Monsters of Rock Cruise live streaming on Facebook on the 11th of July and then a couple of days in August, they set us up for this massive tour we have starting in early September called the 2020 Quarantine Tour with Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z’nuff and a special guest to be announced later on. I think we’re doing everything just right considering what’s happening in the country.

SFL Music: Definitely something that fans can look forward to. About some of the songs when you wrote them like “Fatal Distraction” with your signature style rock and “Broken Love” is more of a ballad. What were the inspirations for the songs?

Z’nuff: Well Lori, whenever it comes to writing songs, and Donnie (Vie) and I wrote a lot of them in the early days, but we didn’t really talk about because I remember Robert Plant saying he doesn’t like to say what the songs are about because what it means to one person, might mean something else to another. So, he likes to leave it non-linear. Leave the interpretation of how they feel what the song is about up to the listener, but I will say on those songs very quickly that on “Fatal Distraction,” that was an old tune that Donnie and I wrote 25 years ago. Never seen the light of day. It just sat on a demo tape. It was called “Fatal Attraction.” I changed a couple of words on it. I changed the title and voila’, there’s the first Donnie Vie, Chip Z’nuff song put out in, you know, six years. I think that’s a nice little thing for the band. It was good for Donnie and I. It really healed any wounds that any of us would be holding onto. Then on “Broken Love” it’s very close to the heart that song. It’s pretty self-explanatory if you look at the history of Enuff Z’nuff, you’ll know what that song is about. There’s another one too that Donnie and I wrote on the record called “Strangers In My Head” and I feel that people will be pleasantly surprised when they hear the contributions that we both lend to another Z’nuff track. So, I think there’s a couple of nice things on this record that we can actually celebrate, and it just goes to show you that, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, you know? There’s a chance in life where if you have any kind of discrepancy with somebody, it can always get better. Just talk about it, and sometimes that’s the great common denominator. Biggest businesses in life go down because of communication. So, you talk things out and you can come up with an answer, and everybody can be in a good place at the end of the day.

SFL Music: Would you say that was sort of a theme to this record?

Z’nuff: No, the theme to the record basically is what you see on the cover which is everybody on computers and their telephones and social media and missing out on life. If we can take you away for one hour of your day, one time, just to get away from all the rigmarole that’s in the world right now, we did our job, and that’s what rock and roll is all about. You go out there, you make a record and you turn it out. It’s your art. People are putting songs out one at a time right now, but I’m still a firm believer of full-length records, and I know my constituents in Cheap Trick, Aerosmith and Foo Fighters and all those great bands, they like making records as well. It’s one piece of art. You can look at little different pieces of it anyway you want to, but at the end of the day, nothing like a full-length record.

SFL Music: How did you get the special guests that are on the record? Mike Portnoy, Daxx Nielsen, Ace Frehley, Brian Ray, Tony Fennell, Steve Ramone. How did that all come about?

Z’nuff: Usually you need about a hundred thousand dollars to get guys like that ok. They cost that much. They’re very expensive, ok, because we’re talking about the crème de la crème of rock players, musicians, not only coming from great pedigrees, but wonderful souls. My old man from Herbert Herbert used to say ‘those are all citizens.’ Those good quality people. The first guy I went to was Mike Portnoy because he’s my cousin. I said, would you be interested in coming down and playing on the record? And he says, Chip, you know I cost a lot of money on that he goes, but considering we’re family I’ll do it for nothing, and he came down. He sat up his Beatles drum set, he’s got an old kind of Beatles drum kit. A Ringo Starr kit, and he played the song, one time! Went through it one time. That was it! This guys a big leaguer. A great way to go! One of the best tracks on the record as well too. If you listen to that song (“It’s All In Vain”), it’s got ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) in it, Cheap Trick, Carpenters, a little bit of (The) Beatles. I really took all of my influences, and it was just so much fonder to write about. That was one of my favorite songs to write about on that record, I gotta be honest with you. Right after I got Portnoy, I said, I gotta call some other friends. That’s how I got the other guys to come on down. I love that Daxx Nielsen of Cheap Trick came down and played on “Fatal Distraction” because that song sounds like a Cheap Trick from one of their earlier records. It really is paying homage, respect to our forbearers on that song right there, and to have a Cheap Trick member playing on it with me. Total honor and I love the guy forever. He’s on a bunch tracks by the way.

SFL Music: He’s on “Help I’m In Hell” and “Drugland Weekend” and “Go…” correct?

Z’nuff: Can’t go wrong there. All those tracks are strong beyond belief and they wouldn’t have sounded like that unless he played drums on them. My drummer Dan Hill, solid as a rock. Great writer, does a lot of movies and soundtrack work around the country. Terrific, established musician, but he walked in on Mike Portnoy on the record, he was a huge fan. He grew up listening to this stuff and Dream Theater, and he loved Daxx Nielsen. He loves Cheap Trick, so everyone’s happy right there and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Making a great record. A real celebration, and I hope people want to go out and hear these songs because I’ll be playing them live every single night on my next tour I go out on, whenever it opens up.

SFL Music: You also had Joel Norman playing piano on “The Gospel” right?

Z’nuff: Yeah, Joel Norman came down. He played on that. He also played on another track too. Wonderful piano player, but a great guitar player and singer as well. Chicago musician. He’s got a couple albums out. You can check out his stuff on YouTube or Facebook, Joel Norman.com. You’ll see what he’s all about. One of the better musicians I’ve ever worked with. I put him right up there with guys like Billy Joel. Just a great writer. Wonderful piano player and a fantastic singer. To add him on the record was really great. It really shows the diversity that Enuff Z’nuff has. We’re not a band that you can just throw on dispose and say well, yeah, it’s a pop band. No, it’s pop, alternative, hard rock, heavy metal. We got elements of everything in our music and that’s maybe why we’re hard to categorize, and I think those guys came down there and they’re carrying a tradition with us. Listen, at the end of the day, I think I made another good record. It’s up to the fans though to decide what they feel about this album.

SFL Music: What influenced you in general to go into music as a career? Was it being from Illinois, the Chicago area?

Z’nuff: Well my dad served in the military. He actually smoked a cigarette he said, which was probably pot, with Jimi Hendrix. So, growing up I had all the Woodstock records. I had Are You Experienced, along with Black Sabbath and then Queen. You know, I was mixed up as a kid where I loved Aerosmith and Cheap Trick as well, but I loved bands like Squeeze. I loved pop stuff, but I played aggressively. So, I think what tripped my trigger was those early records that my mother and father had in the house. Mirror, Crack the Sky. It was a plethora of bands that my family loved that weren’t really big, but left an indelible mark because of the songs and the style of music that they played. A lot of this stuff that you didn’t hear about when we were kids because we were in a time where it was too much supply, not enough demand. Just like today actually, but just different, and those bands just slipped through the cracks, but that’s what started me into music, and then of course watching Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and (The) Midnight Special. Watching Alice Cooper and all those great bands that were on the show. On the program. That was my kryptonite. So here we are. I graduated from Brother Rice High School and what did I do? Jumped in the car, said goodbye to my mom and dad, and went out and started touring around the country.

SFL Music: Did you teach yourself bass?

Z’nuff: I guess you could say I’m a self-taught musician, but there was a guy on my block his name was Keith Kenston. Wonderful bass player. Great singer. Could play guitar. He was a great writer. A wonderful man and he would let me sneak down in his basement and watch his band rehearse. I remember a couple other players. These guys were all great musicians. I think they had a band called Mad Dog, but that was my first learning experience watching bands play, until down the line where I actually joined that band. We were called Milo Brooks. We did a plethora of recordings until everybody went their own way and I said, maybe it’s time for me to put together my own band. I put together Enuff Z’nuff and the rest is history, or so they say. All those guys should have been big. You know, at the time I was growing up, those bands like Pezband, D’ Thumbs, Off Broadway (USA). There was a lot of really good groups that were playing around the south side of Chicago and they just didn’t get a break like I thought they deserved. I gotta be honest with ya. I’m pretty blessed because for some reason we slipped through the cracks and got a chance because of the powers that be, and of course some of the people in the music industry. We were able to at least be a footnote at the end of the day.

SFL Music: What would you say is the secret to your success? The longevity?

Z’nuff: A lot of prayer ok. We had tons of problems. Listen, in the old days, I’d show up to the studio and there’d be a quarter pound of pot. Big huge bags of grass and five sheets of blotter acid, and salt and pepper shakers packed with cocaine and downers and uppers. Cases of beer and all kind of ether and quarter rum. It was ridiculous ok. Out of control in those early days, and Lori, I didn’t partake in it. I certainly was a part of it. So, you know, guilt by association, and we somehow were able to continue to move forward, and after years and years of substance abuse, we were able to knock it out of the park, but not without losing a couple of soldiers along the way. Most notable Derek Frigo and Ricky Parent. Two wonderful friends and great musicians. So, a lot of stuff that we went through, and then Donnie leaving the band again for the last time in 2013. It’s really a blessing from above. That’s why we’re still going. Survival of the fittest. I stayed away from the drugs. I wasn’t bad with that. I wasn’t bad with the drinking. I didn’t do any of that stuff. I really focused on the task at hand which was getting up early in the morning. Doing all the radio stations. Doing the interviews and then playing great shows at night time. If you watch your intake, at the end of the day, wine seems to be a little more comfortable, and that’s it. A real blessing for our band no doubt about it, and you know, I’m not a religious freak or anything, but a lot of prayers. I gotta be honest with ya. I wish I could say something else. Friends just coming through and taking good care of you. Being a good person at the end of the day. My grandpa used to say to me son, kindness to other people cost nothing, but what you give is so much, and that’s the template I use for my life.

SFL Music: That’s a very good lesson. What would you advise up and coming bands?

Z’nuff: Listen to as many bands as you can. As many styles as possible, and pick what trips your trigger and work around that. Try to find guys with the same head space, and please be careful what you’re experimenting, that’s for sure because nowadays, all these different things that are going on in the world. You know, drugs have changed. Now instead of all the stuff I just mentioned to you, now we have OxyContin and Xanax and Adderall, Ambien. They’re all like in the wholesome family drugs. No, they’re not! People ought to just stay away from anything you can and just look forward to trying to make music, and that’s going to be your drug. If you look at it that way, I think you’re going to be ok. Make great records, and if you do the hard work, they say that money will follow.

SFL Music: That’s great advise and does seems to work for bands that are doing well. As for the shows coming up, how did the Monsters of Rock show come about? Great idea!

Z’nuff: Yeah, they are. There’s a couple of guys that are doing it, a few different promoters now that are coming out of the woodwork that are trying to use the Monsters of Rock Cruise live streaming as a platform, and there’s going to be big bands doing it. So, you’re going to see bands like Metallica. They’re doing it for sure. So is the Foo Fighters. The Struts. A lot of bands are going to be doing these live streaming shows coming up until the gates open up and we go back out there and play shows like we’re supposed to. You see a lot of tours that none of them have canceled. You notice the word canceled is not in anyone’s vocabulary because all the promotors, they all want these shows to go on, so they’re all postponed. Next year they’re saying where all the big concerts are going to happen and I’m telling you right now, this year, maybe September, October, you’re going to start seeing smaller shows coming in there and they’ll be very well attended because everybody’s been sequestered, handcuffed in their houses for the last three and half months. They’re jonesed to get out there and have a life, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. This is where, land of the free, home of the brave. There’s live shows that go on with social distancing guidelines and wearing masks. You should still be able to go out and see shows and enjoy each other. That’s what I’m hoping for and in 2020, I’m on the Quarantine Tour with Faster Pussycat, Enuff Z’nuff and a very special guest, and I think that the people have spoken. They want to see rock concerts, and boy what a great time we’ll be able to go out and tour with a brand-new record. Just like I’ve done in the last couple of years, and I think it’s very special, and the live streaming shows, we’ll be doing those too, Lori. Not a lot of them, but with the first ones scheduled, our record Brainwashed Generation comes out July 10th and then on the 11th we’re playing a live streaming show for the Monsters of Rock Cruise on Facebook. So, a lot of people can go on there. You can get merchandise; you can download. Just support your favorite bands. Not just Enuff Z’nuff. All the bands that are out there working because everyone needs support. The live streaming shows are quite frankly much cheaper than a concert where you have to go and spend $200.00 to go sit in a downstairs area and you know, you want to buy some cocktails and some food at the gig and maybe get a tee shirt. It’s quite expensive. I’d like to see these concerts where it’s a little more understanding for the fans because we’ve been out of work for so long. Maybe we give everybody a break, everybody gets a better feed for purchasing their favorite music and records from their favorite bands. Wouldn’t that be a nice little thing to see where bands actually, not saying that they give it away, but do something very nice for the fans, and at the end of the day, that’s everything because without the people, there is no bands.

SFL Music: True. Was there anything else that you wanted readers to know? Any videos coming out?

Z’nuff: Yeah, the first video off the Brainwashed Generation Enuff Z’nuff album is a song called “Broken Love” that will be out next week or so on YouTube. Then, you want to follow Enuff Z’nuff it’s Enuff Z’ nuff.com. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Check us out there. Any dates you want to see. Its real easy to find me on dashradio.com MONSTERS OF ROCK. Come check out my show. It’s pretty good. Cool cats listen to me, and I play the greatest hard rock and heavy metal imaginable.

SFL Music: That’s awesome. Congratulations on that. Was there anything else you wanted to add?

Z’nuff: My last thing I’d like to add is a shout out to all our doctors, our military, our first responders, police, Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines. All the great guys that are helping this country move forward. A lot of people out there in the trenches working every single day, and I send my prayers to everyone out there that they all get through this and we get back to a normal life of celebrating hard rock and heavy metal and everything else in between.

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