Interview : Robert Cavuoto
Enuff Z’Nuff is the perfect example of what a rock/pop group should be as every album is packed to the brim with grooves and hooks. The band released their first album in 1989; 29 year and 21 albums later, they are still kicking ass! Their newest CD, Diamond Boy, will be released on August 10th via Frontiers Music.
This CD is the first Enuff Z’Nuff release where Chip Z’Nuff handles all of the vocal duties and also features longtime guitarist Tory Stoffregen, ex-Ultravox singer/guitarist Tony Fennell, and Daniel Benjamin Hill on drums. On September 12th the band will also kick off a 21-city U.S. Hair Nation Tour with Jack Russell’s Great White and the Bullet Boys.
I caught up with Chip to discuss Diamond Boy, taking the reins on lead vocals, and cementing their place in Rock & Roll history!
Robert Cavuoto: I recall seeing an interview with you a while ago, where you mentioned this CD was completed. How long has it been finished?
Chip Z’Nuff: It’s been done for about six months. We sent it to Frontiers Music and like any record company with a large roster of artists; they had to find the right time to release it. We have the Hair Nation Tour coming up, so it made sense to put it out in August.
Robert Cavuoto: Was it tough sitting on it for six months waiting for it to be released to the world.
Chip Z’Nuff: It’s frustrating for all musicians to have to wait. Nothing has changed with this; it’s what record companies and bands do. They make a record and then have to wait until there is a window. Back in the 70s and 80s, there were bands that would make a record which would never see the light of day. We are lucky to still be putting records out. During this time, I have been in the studio recording new songs, playing shows, and doing interviews. We have been staying quite busy.
Robert Cavuoto: The CD title, Diamond Boy, and the imagery of the exploding disco ball is unique, what does it represent and how did it come about?
Chip Z’Nuff: You did your homework I see! [laughing] The album cover incorporates the peace sign from our logo. When we were recording Diamond Boy, the first thing we said was let’s make a 70s/80s record; something that is Lo-Fi and Hi-Fi. It’s only fitting to add the peace sign, which has been our moniker from day one. The colors and image was the artist’s interpretation of the record. We saw some other cover concepts, but they were shot down. I think they were just as terrific. When you put a record on, you don’t see people shaking their assess to smoke machines; it’s just about the music. It’s a perfect interpretation of what we stood for in the past and moving forward.
Chip Z’Nuff: You are really good, and I’m not just saying that! That’s a great question! I wrote the song and wanted it to be androgynous, and you caught it. “Diamond Boy” can be any one of us, male or female. It could also be about someone in the past or the future. Someone that we are all trying to find more out about them or intrigued by. It’s good to leave the song vague and let the listener interpret the way they want to. It’s more their song as opposed to me putting a name, face, or figure on it.
Robert Cavuoto: My favorite track was “Faith, Hope, and Luv,” what can you tell me about its creation?
Chip Z’Nuff: The title speaks fChip Z’Nuff of Enuff Z’Nuff on New CD Diamond Boy –Straight out of the Box the Music Kicks Your Ass!
or itself. Those are three things that everyone in the world is looking for or at least most of us. It brings back that old school 70s vibe when we embraced everything that was around us. It speaks volumes, and they are three words that we all need. The music comes straight out of the box kicking your ass. It will be a fun song to play every night.
Robert Cavuoto: How does Enuff Z’Nuff evolve as a band yet stays true to their musical roots?
Chip Z’Nuff: In the 80s, it was tough for any band to get a record deal. There was a lot of competition, not as bad as it is now but there was too much pride and not enough demand. The bands that were able to deal with the cesspool of the music business were very lucky. Back in the 80s, we played clubs opening for BTO, Cheap Trick, and whoever came to town just trying to reach that audience. We were at a recording studio in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin when we were discovered. Doc McGee was in there with Skid Row who were making their debut record. Doc came into our room said, “I have three cassettes in my car; two of them were Enuff Z’Nuff.” I was flattered. He was the man who started everything for us. He took our music to Derrick Shulman at ATCO Records who signed the band. I saw a lot of bands come and go as the life expectancy for a band is only three to five years. Our first CD came in August 1989, and now we are putting out our 21st record: it’s a miracle.
Robert Cavuoto: Have you seen a resurgence in 80s rock?
Chip Z’Nuff: I have seen a resurgence in the bands of the 80s and 90s. People are looking for songs to take them away and let their hair down. If you look at ticket sales, people are spending money and want to see great shows. This year there were some wonderful tours like Def Leppard/Journey, Cheap Trick/ Poison, Foreigner/Jason Bonham/Whitesnake. I think it has been strong even in the clubs and theaters. You have to support the bands you love at their shows.
Robert Cavuoto: I read that Donnie Vie wasn’t involved in any aspect on this CD.
Chip Z’Nuff: He was not a part of this CD nor the last CD Clown Lounge; which was achieved materials and a couple of new songs. He’s working on either a solo CD or a CD with a band; I don’t really know. Whatever it is I’m sure it will be terrific. We’ve moved forward with a new chapter of the band and have a strong record, which is a solid representation of what we are all about. There are so many established bands out there like Foreigner, Journey, and STP with new singers making CDs. I intended it to be like Genesis when Peter Gabriel left, and Phil Collins took over singing all the songs. Instead of going all around the world looking for a singer who sounds like Donnie, I decided to sing lead. I sang background on most songs and lead on a couple so why don’t I take a shot at it. With the confidence of my band, management, and the fans; why not? It’s a rock record with pop overtones and tweaks of metal. Some of the songs are autobiographical while some are not. Songs that we can go out and play live without an orchestra behind us to perform it correctly.
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me about taking on the responsibilities of lead vocals. Did it come with any trepidation?
Chip Z’Nuff: Initially I didn’t know what the response would be. As an artist, I make records for myself. If I dig them, I’ll let everyone hear them. When Donnie left the band in 2013, my guitar player Johnny Monaco was singing the songs live. Then he left the band due to medical issues, and I had to figure if I wanted to put a fork in Enuff Z’Nuff. Maybe I could join Steven Alder’s Guns n Roses or Missing Person again? I decided to give it go with the confidence of my band. Everyone was pleasantly surprised how good it sounded. I ended up participating in the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Los Angeles, I was a counselor, and Paul Stanley of Kiss was one of the big stars there. We got talking, and he invited us to perform on the Kiss Cruise. He got on the phone with Doc McGee and made it happen. We played once or twice a day along with six other bands on the Cruise. Doc and Paul came to the shows and told me I should have taken the lead vocal responsibilities ten years ago. That gave me a nice shot of adrenaline in my arm. I got back to Chicago super excited on what the future held. I then get a call from Ace Frehley’s agent asking me to support Ace for 30 days on tour. We toured it in a small minivan with our equipment and bags in the back just like the old days. No big budget, no big tour bus, and no crew; just us four guys. We hired Tony Fennell the ex-singer of Ultravox on guitar, and that really changed the band exponentially. He is a great singer with great pipes, and we don’t step on each other’s toes. We knew we had something special and decide to take things to the next level and make a record. I really believe if you want it to make it have to work 24 hours a day. The band is focused and running on all cylinders with the new CD and Hair Nation Tour.
Robert Cavuoto: You have an upcoming tour this fall with Bullets Boys and Jack Russell’s Great White.
Chip Z’Nuff: It’s going to be a great tour, and Jack is singing his ass off. These bands really want to play as we all have new music out as well. Eddie Trunk will be hosting the show as well. I’m looking for a good turnout. There won’t be a tour bus on this tour either. Everyone was piling into passenger vans. Between all three bands, we have sold more than 20 million records! People will be blown away by what we bring to the party. After this tour, we fly out to England for another tour.