interview by Michael McCarthy
“The Magical Mystery Tour is coming to take you away!!!” That’s because Chip Z’Nuff and Enuff Z’Nuff have just released a truly wonderful new album on Frontiers Records. It’s a glorious homage to The Beatles called Enuff Z’Nuff’s Hardrock Nite (a play on The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night). It features Z’Nuff and company playing some of The Beatles’ biggest hits along with select solo cuts from the fab four. I’m sure you want to know what’s on it, so here’s the tracklist:
Magical Mystery Tour
Live And Let Die
Back In The U.S.S.R.
With A Little Help From My Friends
Suffice to say, there aren’t any bad songs in the bunch. And it’s out now so give it a listen while you read the following interview with everybody’s favorite rock star, Chip Z’Nuff, in which we discuss the album as well Never Enuff: Rarities & Demos, a three disc collection of out-takes that’s now available on Deadline Records. As the saying goes, it’s all good!
MM: So, first of all, where are you located at today?
CZN: I’m in Chicago today.
MM: At home?
CZN: Yeah, actually I had to take off. I’m doing my radio show on the Dash Radio Network on the radio six days a week.
MM: What time is that on at?
CZN: I’m on 10 to 2 on the weekdays. On the weekends, 12 to 4, on the Monsters of Rock.
MM: Cool, I’ll have to check that out. Now, I think you’ve done quite a bit of touring since the pandemic started at this point. You did a tour with Faster Pussycat called Straight Outta Quarantine, right?
CZN: That’s correct.
MM: How did that go?
CZN: It was fantastic. For the first time in 20 years we had a tour bus. We had the old Journey tour bus. And it was beautiful. We got back on the road where we were actually touring like we did in the early days where we were comfortable with the band and the crew all together traveling. Faster Pussycat, the same thing. And our very first show on the tour we got a call from Taime saying they had a problem with their trailer so we had to go pick their trailer up with our bus and take it to the first venue which I thought was kind of interesting. But then we showed up at the gig and even though we were going through a lockdown in the United States the show was jammed packed. There were tons of rock fans out there. We played an outdoor venue. Great set. We opened every night with “Magical Mystery Tour,” which was terrific. We’ve got quite a challenge right there, playing those Beatles songs, let me tell you. But the fans were just great. And every show went without a hitch, no pun intended. Tons of fans. Remember, we weren’t playing sheds and arenas. We were playing clubs and theatres. And all of my rock buddies showed up from all of the bands out there from L.A. Guns to the Steel Panther guys to Cheap Trick. Everybody wanted to go out and see a rock show and see how it went. I think, perhaps, it might’ve been the first tour, the first major tour, where bands were playing shows every single day because before that it was just weekend warrior stuff for most cats. Or doing live streaming shows. Perhaps we were the human guinea pigs on that. Everyone wanted to see what would happen with a tour. If it would work well and we could navigate these waters that we’re going through right now and I’d say it was a success. We were out for almost 2 months on that tour.
MM: And did everyone manage to stay healthy or did anyone come down with the virus?
CZN: No, first of all, most of the people that I know of on the bands and crews all took the jab, either with Pfizer or Moderna or Johnson and Johnson.
CZN: Listen, though, people say if you’ve got the shot you’re OK, but it’s not true. Listen, I don’t want to get into politics or anything but I’ll tell you this much, even if you had the shot, it will protect you from anything significant happening to you, however, you can still get the virus with the shot and that’s what people need to know. The shot’s good, yes, for some people. But for other people who have weakened immune systems or religious beliefs perhaps the pill will be the way to go in the future. You take the pill and it’ll help you get through the day without any bad side-effects but I didn’t see many people wearing masks at the shows. And I’m fine with that. How’s an artist going to perform with a mask on? Unless you’re Slipknot or Mushroomhead, most bands out there try to be as safe as possible and you want everybody to be healthy, of course, but nobody was asking for [vaccine] cards or anything. It was back to how it used to be in the world. Where you go see a show and you enjoy yourself. Of course, the masks were worn before shows and it’s good to do that. That’s why you don’t see a lot of colds out there or anything because people are masking up. But during the shows I didn’t see anybody wearing masks. They were enjoying the concert. They were drinking their cocktails. They were partying and celebrating like a rock concert’s supposed to be. I’m looking at concerts right now, and I’m looking at football games on TV, and I’m watching all this stuff go on and there’s 100 thousand people out there and it seems to be going pretty good right now. I believe that we perhaps are at the cusp of getting through all of this. And we just happened to be lucky enough to be one of the first ones out there and show everybody that it can be done.
MM: I know during recent years a lot of times you guys have been touring as an opening act. Have you thought about testing the waters with headlining again at all?
CZN: Oh, we’ve headlined, too, as well. In 2018 we went out with Ace Frehley and we did a tour around the states. And I was hanging out with Andy Feathersmith, who’s one of the guys over at Livenation and he said to me, Chip, the wave of the future is consolidation. Where people get a bang for their buck. You get two or three bands together and go out and play shows. And I believe that’s a really good template for moving forward. We’re not a big enough band to go out there and play arenas or theatres by ourselves. There are some markets that we could do that, but I believe it’s in the best interest of the band to get out there and play shows and consolidate and have two and three bands out on the tour with us. That gives you a bang for your buck and it certainly doesn’t hurt that I’m on Dash Radio every single week. Which is a huge station. I’ve got 800, 900 thousand people a day listening to me on Monsters of Rock on the Dash Radio Network. And I take the show on the road every single day so I’m out telling the audience that there’s a concert happening in every single town so that certainly helps a lot as well. Maybe in the future you might see that but for right now I like the fact that we’re moving forward and playing with a few other bands out there. It’s better for the fans to get a bigger bang for their buck anyway. In the old days, all the bands did it. I remember seeing Mahogany, Rush, and Kiss and Cheap Trick. Those bands you don’t think would all work together but it was a fabulous show. Everybody got a chance to hear different music during the night. I like that template.
MM: That seems to be the way to go. It was postponed again, but you’ve got that big tour coming up with Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett. That’s sold phenomenally well.
CZN: Yeah, people want to get out there and play shows. The bands want to play and the fans want to see the shows. And they’ll do anything they can to get out there. And that stadium tour is going to be absolutely massive. And I believe that Poison, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Def Leppard and Motley Crue and their opening act is Classless Act, a band that Tommy Lee’s management company handles, and I think that’s gonna be a real celebration. Just imagine all the fathers bringing their kids to the shows and talking about substance abuse and promiscuity. That’s a nice R rated show for all of the rock fans to go out and see. But there will be other concerts out there as well. That’s only one of them. Guns ‘N’ Roses will be back out there again playing. You’ll see The Black Crowes out there, Greta Van Fleet will be doing shows. Dirty Honey is going out. Then you’ve got Tom Keifer, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat touring as well. It’s gonna be like the wild wild west out there. That’s not even counting the other tours like McCartney and Lady Gaga and Elton John. It’s gonna be like the wild west, bro.
MM: I guess the only good thing about the pandemic is that we’ve gotten a lot more new albums from people because everybody had the downtime to make albums, which you’ve obviously done a couple yourself during this time. How many songs from Enuff Z’Nuff’s Hardrock Nite will you be doing live?
CZN: Good question. And you’re right about that. A lot of bands have taken time out. They didn’t sit on their laurels and wait. This is our lives. This is our livelihood. This is what we do for a living. All of the biggest bands and all of the smallest bands have been focused enough to go in the studio, record a record and know that that’s gonna be the next game plan that moves that band forward and moves that needle. I just read a thing recently where Lenny Kravitz said he did three albums this year. That’s fantastic. If you’ve got the money to be able to go into the studio and record three records, fantastic. First of all, you need the material. That’s a lot of songs. That’s thirty something songs to come up with. So, there’s a lot of fodder out there, a lot of subject matter to write about. And Enuff Z’Nuff took advantage of that for sure. But how many songs, to answer your question, I don’t know. If we go out as Enuff Z’Nuff and there’s a tour next year we’ve talked about that would start in March or April with When In Rome, Bow Wow Wow, Missing Persons and Enuff Z’Nuff. That would be a fantastic package, by the way. Different kinds of rock all put together which is something different that we haven’t done in a long time. We’ve always stuck with bands that are great bands but they’re rock bands but this alternative tour, I’d love to be part of something like that. Perhaps we might go out and just call it The Beatles Rock Show and do a bunch of shows like that, too, as well. Because the name is bigger and the sum is bigger than the parts. That record is a quality sounding record and we really took our time and spent not only our time but quite a bit of finances to put that record together and we might just do the whole Beatles show. We just don’t know yet. Until it gets closer to pulling the strings on this.
MM: How did you narrow down your options for Hardrock Nite with so many great songs to choose from?
CZN: Well, you can’t go wrong doing Beatles songs, Mike. Those songs are timeless as far as I’m concerned. Here we are playing songs from a band who recorded these tunes 50, 60 years ago. It’s ridiculous how old these songs are. And yet they still resonate with everyone around the country. We recorded 16 or 17 Beatles songs and some McCartney songs and some Lennon solo songs as well and we narrowed it down to the 10 that we thought not only represented us but what we loved about The Beatles from the beginning, showing all the different influences. But the one common denominator on the record is that it’s a rock record and we plugged into Mesa/Boogie amplifiers and SBTs and there was big drums and it was a solid production right there. All analog. That was the great thing about the record. And we tried to do it in the same room. Although a lot of stuff that Tory did was recorded separately and he sent it back to us but it sounds like a band playing in the same room together and that’s pretty special right there. We’ve got a concise hard rock record, showing all the bells and whistles but not over-produced whatsoever and really showcasing Enuff Z’Nuff, the eyes of what The Beatles do through my eyes, through my rose-colored glasses. We tried to turn the songs into Enuff Z’Nuff songs because The Beatles are one of our biggest influences but at the end of the day it’s a Beatles record and I don’t think there’s any rock band that’s ever put a record out that’s a Beatles record all recorded in the studio, recorded properly, like this. I think Cheap Trick actually put out a live record of Beatles stuff but I don’t think any band has ever done a proper studio record of all Beatles songs.
MM: Yeah, I can’t think of one.
CZN: We might be the first that’s ever done that. We’ve got elephant balls because it’s a tough task. If you don’t do it right, people are going to vilify you beyond belief. I think we took a great approach. It’s a hard rock record. If you listen to the album in its entirety, you’ll think, wow, it’s got shades of Cheap Trick and Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots and all those bands put together, how they would do the record if they were trying to record Beatles songs nowadays. We’ve really nailed it without sounding that modest. And we took it to our constituents when we were finished, the guys over at Frontiers Records, and we did The Beatles Rock Show on Sirius XM and the common denominator is that we made a great record because these are songs we didn’t have to write, they were already written by Lennon and McCartney with great contributions from with George and Ringo and those guys have left an indelible mark and we’re just proud to put a record out that shows one of our biggest influences.
MM: Are there any Japanese bonus tracks on this one?
CZN: Perhaps, there may be. I know we recorded a lot. We sent them all into the label. But I think we focused at first on the 10 songs to see how the waters would be and what people would say. Unwittingly, not knowing if anybody would jump at this and be excited about it but they certainly have been. It’s already sold out. If you try to get it online you have to wait a little bit. I think it comes out on November 12th. But pre-sales have sold out, the fans have spoken, and it’s a great rock record. And we’ll see how this goes and then we’ll make a decision as a result of all these people grabbing onto the record and we’ll figure out what the next game plan is going to be for Enuff Z’Nuff.
MM: Did you have to get permission from any of the Beatles or their estates to do these songs or were they published in a manner where anybody could do them?
CZN: Well, of course, you’ve gotta get permission to do it. That’s why maybe other bands haven’t done it. It’s not easy to get licensing deals nowadays. But Enuff Z’Nuff has always been compared to The Beatles in some capacity with journalists around the country. I’m sure Paul and Ringo know what we’re doing right now, absolutely, and it’s been signed off on. They’re gonna make all the money on the record. If anything, they’re gonna reach another audience who might not know who The Beatles are, believe it or not. Recently, when Kanye West was doing something with McCartney, people were saying on the internet, wow, this is really going to blow up that Paul McCartney. [Laughs] They didn’t know he’s already a huge star. [Both laugh] A new generation perhaps wasn’t aware of what The Beatles have done. Listen, this is a wonderful opportunity for us. I think it’s a nice massage to The Beatles and what they have done through their career. And maybe we can help them make a few dollars moving forward. Not that they need the money. But there will be an audience out there where some people will know who they are and embrace these songs because they are timeless and the recording process proves it when you hear the record. It’s not done in somebody’s basement. We’ve done it in recording studios that are legitimate and I certainly hope that it’s embraced by the masses out there because it’s certainly gonna help Enuff Z’Nuff’s perception.
MM: Now, did you produce the album again?
CZN: I always do. I did it along with my guitar player Tony Fennell and he did a fantastic job. He’s got a great sense of balance. He used to be the lead singer in a band called Utlravox. They were real big over in Europe, that’s for sure. All the guys in my band are all producers. They’re all smart cats. I always like to take the bull by the horns and we move forward together as a team.
MM: Last time we spoke someone had come into the band named Alex Kane, who you said had been in the band many years ago. And I think one of the guys had taken a leave of absence or something. What is the line-up of the band right now?
CZN: The line-up right now is Tory Stoffregen, lead guitar and slide guitar, Tony Fennell, lead guitar, great singer as well, and Daniel Benjamin Hill is our drummer and I’m the frontman. And Alex is doing fine. Alex was the original lead guitar player in Enuff Z’Nuff. He left the band in the early days and put together a band called Life, Sex & Death. They were on Warner Brothers and they were fabulous. I think right now he’s out with a couple different projects but mostly producing records, though, and he does a great job with that as well.
MM: You also recently put out a collection called Never Enuff: Rarities & Demos. How did that one come about?
CZN: I save all the tapes. I’ve done that for years. I’ve saved all the recordings that we’ve done. I’ve got all the two inch tapes. I’ve got all the DAT tapes. I was intuitive enough to know that maybe it was in our best interest to have this material even if just as a keepsake to have it for ourselves. We never thought it would see the light of day because songs are like embryos. It’s a relationship as a songwriter, you put them together and you just don’t want to put them out there unless it’s right and you want to make sure that fidelity-wise, they’re strong. And subject matter-wise, as well. I think that I was approached by Cleopatra Records about putting together some of our earlier recordings and I thought maybe it would be in our best interest to have it underneath one umbrella and I talked with Donnie’s management company and they loved the idea and I called my old manager who used to work with the band years ago. He’s not with us anymore. He just passed away last week. His name is Herbie Herbert. He was a fabulous manager. And he gave me the thumbs up. He said it would be a fabulous idea to have everything out as long as we weren’t selling the masters and we were just licensing everything it would be good to have everything under one umbrella so we could find out where our royalties are and make sure we know exactly what’s going on with our music. One of the pre-requisites to securing this deal was to put together a bunch of demos that were never released before. I went through all the DAT tapes and found about 60 songs that we didn’t release out of our past, prolific catalog, being modest. And I put together all of these songs. I went over to a studio on the north side of Chicago, it was called Stone Cutters, the engineer is named Chris Steinman, he’s worked with hip-hop, rap, rock, this guy was responsible for the Kiss Revenge record. He’s a fabulous producer as well. And we went into the studio. I dropped off all the DAT tapes and it took me about two weeks to go through all the songs and pick the 40 that I thought were strong. I shared it with Donnie. Donnie said there’s a nice energy on here, let’s do it. And we did the deal. It was during the pandemic and we found ourselves hemorrhaging with money and finances and we needed to stay alive somehow and Brian Ferrera at Cleopatra Records was kind enough to say we can facilitate this deal and we put together a nice package. Let’s do some good artwork and release those on vinyl and on CD. I went right over to Paul Natkin, the world famous photographer who’s done The Stones and Aerosmith and he said, I’ve got a bunch of old pictures here, let’s pull them out. We went through hundreds of pictures and found some great stuff and I went to Patty Glasscott, who’s responsible for Van Halen on the Time and Life magazines and she put together a wonderful package for us. It’s really nice artwork. It’s 40 songs that were all unreleased. Early, early Enuff Z’Nuff stuff, mostly just Donnie and myself, and I think it’s a really nice representation of how Enuff Z’Nuff was in the early days.
MM: I think it came out really well. I was surprised that there were so many unreleased songs still because where you guys had released a few back catalog albums in the past I thought you’d released everything that was good already. So, I was quite blown away by this.
CZN: Yeah, you’ll start seeing a lot of Enuff Z’Nuff earlier records released during the upcoming year, which is real nice. It’s certainly good for the fans to get a chance to see our catalog and for people who aren’t aware of Enuff Z’Nuff to hear these songs in an unbiased way. It’s great artwork, wonderful songs, I believe. And the new stuff we’ve been putting out, we’ve been for the last 8 years putting stuff out with me fronting the band. We put out Clowns Lounge, and we put out Diamond Boy, Brainwashed Generation and now the newest record, which is called Hardrock Nite. And that will be followed up by a solo record that comes out in March and then the new Enuff Z’Nuff album after that.
MM: How is the new solo record going to differ from Enuff Z’Nuff? Are you doing anything different sonically or anything?
CZN: One thing I did was I went out and got Joel Hoekstra from Whitesnake and Trans-Siberian Orchestra to play on the record, that’s great. He’s an old friend of mine. And I’ve got Daxx Neilsen from Cheap Trick playing on half the record, that’s was great. Solid drumming right there. Steven Adler’s even on one track. When he used to live out here in the olden days we recorded a bunch of songs. I used to have Steven get on the drums and just check out the drums for me, the sounds, and I recorded all that stuff. I must have a couple dozen songs with drumming from Steven Adler. And, trust me, he’s got a swing like nobody. Fantastic drumming. Nobody was filming that stuff, unfortunately, because, boy, he’s got his own timbre, there’s no doubt about that. So, I got him to play on a track on the new record from one of my old recordings. It’s an old Mott The Hoople, Ian Hunter song called “Honaloochie Boogie.” That will be on the solo record as well. It will be a 10 or 11 song record and I’m looking at releasing that around March or April of 2022 then it will be followed up by a new Enuff Z’Nuff album.
MM: Do you know what label the solo record will be on yet?
CZN: Yeah, that will be on Frontiers.
CZN: Yeah, all the old stuff is on Cleopatra with Brian Ferrera and then the new stuff is on Frontiers.
MM: Frontiers had put out Clowns Lounge, which was a back catalog album, so how did it come to be that the new collection is on Deadline/Cleopatra?
CZN: Uh, just by coincidence, to be honest with you. We had no idea where the records were gonna go. We just wanted to be sure that we had a home for them. After we put out Clowns Lounge and the first single was “Dog On A Bone,” which did really well for us, and people grabbed onto it and at that time I was co-hosting with Mancow so a lot years people got a chance to hear that record because we played it every single day. It did well. It sold some units. Frontiers was happy with it and they came back to me and said, hey, we want to do some more records. And that’s when we put out Diamond Boy. That was the first record that we had in 25 years that charted on the Billboard top 200. That was a big shot in the arm for Enuff Z’Nuff. Not only did it give us confidence, it showed the label that there’s still an audience out there that likes Enuff Z’Nuff and then we followed it up with the Livenation Ace Frehley tour and that was terrific and we did the Kiss cruise after that and we’ve been moving forward ever since. We just don’t stop. If we can’t go out and play we go into the studio and record records. When we can, we’re out on tour playing these shows every single day. At the end of the day, it’s about people going out there and seeing the concerts live. The band sounds good live. It’ll help move this forward. I think all the shows have been going really great. We never mail it in. As I said earlier, on the last tour we were on a little bus but usually for Enuff Z’Nuff it’s a tour where we’re in a van. We throw all the equipment in the back of the van with a bunch of gear and we travel together as a bunch of brothers. And it seems to work out for us. We all love touring and we all love the legacy and respect the legacy of Enuff Z’Nuff and we want to go out and play shows. We’re a real rock band at the end of the day. That’s how bands used to do it. It’s not just about a guy getting on the internet and pressing a button and hoping people go out and buy your record and download it. We want to go out and play for the audience. There’s a lot of friends and fans out there that have been following this band for 25, 30 years or longer and I’m really excited about what the future holds.
MM: You mentioned possibly touring with Missing Persons. You were playing bass for them at one point, right?
CZN: I certainly was. For about seven years. At one point I was playing with Missing Persons and we were touring around the country with Devo and The Knack and then we did gigs all over playing arenas. With Siousxie and the Banshees and Death Cab for Cutie and Billy Idol. We’ve played with all of them. Missing Persons have had some pretty big extensive hits out there and to play with them was great. And I also played for Adler’s Appetite at that time. I would get off tour with Missing Persons and I’d jump on tour with Steven Adler and when Adler’s Appetite was finished touring I’d go back to Enuff Z’Nuff and play. I’ve never stopped recording and touring. And it doesn’t matter who drives that bus. Let’s get to where the action is.
MM: I imagine stylistically to go from Missing Persons to Adler’s Appetite there must be a distinct difference in how you play those songs. Is it difficult to transition between genres like that?
CZN: It’s challenging, but I don’t know if the word difficult would be in my vocabulary, although I just said the word. But, no, you play with Missing Persons and a lot of that stuff was synth bass, too, so maybe that was a challenge to play that on an electric bass guitar while we have a keyboard player but with the Guns ‘N’ Roses songs, those guys were in their 20s when they were writing those songs and you’ve gotta be in good shape to play them. There’s no doubt about that. Every single night we had Alex Grossi from Quiet Riot, Michael Thomas from Faster Pussycat, Steven Adler on drums, me playing bass, and then we had this guy from Budderside, his name is Patrick Stone, and that was the band that went out on tour. So, it was all veterans. Guys that show up every day and they want to play. And the shows were strong because of that. At the end of the day, when I look at these tours I did with these cats the challenges were there but it wasn’t difficult at all. It’s what I do. I’ve been playing for a long time. Doesn’t matter what style or if it’s a 4 string or a 12 string or an 8 string bass guitar, that’s what I do, I’ve got it down, I feel pretty comfortable when I show up at all of those gigs. I just want the songs to be performed properly every night and it takes a little discipline to do that but I’m fine with that.
MM: If you do tour with Missing Persons, will you do double duty and play bass with them, too, or do they have another bassist now?
CZN: Right now the guy that took my place is Prescott Niles, who’s the bass player in The Knack. Pretty solid guy. Whether Prescott goes out on tour or not, I don’t know. I know Dale has got a brand new book out right now and she wants to get out and play these shows. But I would double dip and take that gig, there’s no doubt about that. It would be a wonderful opportunity. I’d just throw a different bass on and change my look up a little bit and I’m ready to go. I’ve gotta be honest with you, I don’t know what’s gonna happen with that tour but I’d embrace that. I’d embrace that opportunity.
MM: Speaking of books, in an interview I came across the other day you mentioned something about working on a book. Is that true?
CZN: Yeah, I’ve been doing that for the last four or five years. Putting together a wonderful anthology of Enuff Z’Nuff from the beginning days up to right now. It’s quite extensive. I would love to see the book get out there. Maybe next year.
MM: Is it going to be strictly an Enuff Z’Nuff book or is going to be more like your general memoirs?
CZN: I think it will be a story on Enuff Z’Nuff where it could be adopted into a movie, actually. Listen, we went through a lot of stuff during those early days. The inmates were running the asylum. We found ourselves recording on 4 and 8 tracks in my bedroom and working our way through to recording in Geneva and meeting Doc Mcghee, getting a record deal with Atco/Atlantic Records, traveling around the country with a couple of smash hit songs on tour with Badlands and Mr. Big, working our way through, going out with Poison and Def Leppard, doing big tours and all the stories in between there of promiscuity and substance abuse but still being able to come up with these songs that were written through our eyes. I think it’s a heart-breaking story in a lot of ways. There are a lot of peaks and valleys in it. And only a guy that can tell the truth would be the guy that could put that story together and I have a pretty good memory along with my management company, those guys are like Rainman, they remember dates and everything. Yeah, I certainly think it would be a great story. Not unlike The Dirt by Motley Crue or maybe Slash’s book with Anthony Bozza where he really exposes everything. He’s not afraid to show all his scars and tattoos.
MM: I would definitely be interested in reading that.
CZN: Thanks, buddy.