HIGH ON A NEW THING ONCE AGAIN
Metal Sludge exclusive: Enuff Z’Nuff has a new record climbing the charts called ‘Covered in Gold’
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Editor at Large
HOLLYWOOD — Chip Z’Nuff, the founding bassist and leader of legendary glam band Enuff Z’ Nuff, is doing better than ever.
No, the band itself never reached its potential in terms of rising to the level of superstar headliners, but they’ve been together a long time since striking a chord a generation ago with hit singles “High on a New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle” back when MTV was king.
The band has continued to release a stream of albums, and they constantly go on tour – including playing 140 shows this past year.
Mr. Z’Nuff, always friendly with a permanent smile on his face, is still a quintessential rock-star-cool kinda guy, and with Enuff Z’Nuff having released a new CD, he was only too happy to sit with us for a Metal Sludge exclusive.
METAL SLUDGE: Hey Chip, it’s good to hear your voice. What’s the very latest?
We’ve got a brand-new record out called “Covered in Gold.” It’s 14 songs, all covers, everything from the Beatles to Cheap Trick to Bowie to Billy Squier to David Lee Roth to the Cult.
Believe it or not, the theme song from “Greatest American Hero.”
SLUDGE: Who is singing on this record? Is Donnie Vie on the record?
It’s Donnie and Johnny Monaco. Donnie sang on the record just before his “sabbatical.”
SLUDGE: I know you said you didn’t want to focus on the negative, but I have to follow up a little on Donnie Vie. Have you heard from lately? Since the Sludge stories (Part 1 is HERE – Part 2 is HERE) came out?
Yeah, he sent me a text wishing me well. I told that was nice and that maybe we would get together soon. He’s trying to get clean to clean himself up. I wish him well. But yeah, he is alive and kicking.
SLUDGE: Is he in Tennessee still?
He didn’t say where he’s at. He’s in the USA, I know that much. I didn’t want to hunt him down.
SLUDGE: So how many years has Enuff Z’Nuff been together?
We first started in 1984, so it’s been 30 years.
SLUDGE: Would you say it’s been a good 30 years? Are you proud of the band’s legacy?
I think it’s been a great legacy. We’re one of the strongest bands out there. These days, the average lifespan of a band is five years, so to be doing it this long, having been all around the world, we’ve played arenas and huge sheds all the way down to the shittiest little clubs you can imagine. It’s not always been the best, but when I look in hindsight, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now I’m on TV every morning in front of 12 million people, and we’re playing festivals, including the Farm Rock Festival coming up, and I couldn’t have done any of this without Enuff Z’Nuff’s legacy.
We have great songs. I don’t need to defend myself. The proof is in the pudding. Some of the biggest bands in the world have endorsed us. Metallica, Cheap Trick, Queen, Robert Plant, they’ve all said great things about us. They don’t talk about “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” They hail us.
We just did a great show with London Quireboys at the Double Door in Chicago, an historical room where the Pumpkins has played, Cheap Trick, lots of others, and we sold it out.
SLUDGE: Tell me more about the TV show.
It’s here in Chicago from 6 to 8 a.m., and it’s called Mancow TV. The preface is pushing new movies and TV shows and concerts, whatever is happening in Chicago, whatever is chic. We’ve had some really good guest stars like Zakk Wylde, Michael Schenker, Cheap Trick and Ace Frehley just recently, and we had Dee Snider on last week. The show gives me a chance to put my favorite rock stars on TV and push their wares, and I think it’s nice that I get a chance to be part of that. David Letterman was bigger, but still, a lot of people are up early in the morning. We also have kind of a political slant, and we’ve had guests on like Tom Dart and Jesse Jackson.
SLUDGE: I’ve got a question for you, Chip. You’ve always been about peace, kind of like the Beatles, with all the peace signs and everything. With all that’s happening in the world right now – not just in Ferguson, Mo., but the civil wars in Russia with Ukraine and in Syria, and with what’s happening in Gaza, does it break your heart?
It’s certainly discouraging. What I do for a living, there is no professional like it – except maybe for porno (laughs) – because while the news is nothing but grief and so much despair, I am here to provide something that’s good by playing music. You can’t change the world in a day or keep on worrying about tomorrow, so I say, hey, go to a movie or a concert or go out and spend some dough at a mall. Find something in life that trips your trigger. I mean, there’s a corrupt police system, the country is run by a bunch of jack-offs, and the bad is beating the good. So people should just stick together and have respect for one another, and if we do that, we have a good chance of turning things around. Me? I’m just a tiny little speck but of something that can put some good into your life. I’m not trying to change the world, but I do believe in good things, but I can only do so much. You hear our stuff, and it puts a smile on your face for an hour, so come see us.
SLUDGE: Can you delve a little deeper, Chip? You talk about this despair in the world, but why? Instead of simply pushing your message about trying to have a good time for an hour or so, to forget about all the problems, have you ever wondered why the world and the USA is the way it is right now?
I think a lot of the reasons why, it starts at the top with the president. He can only do so much, but it’s almost like people are just telling him what to do, that he can’t call the shots, and in this world, without $dough you’re doomed. There are people without jobs, people who are hungry, and things are closing down. I think it’s 93 percent of African Americans from 18 to 24 don’t have a gig. They can’t find work, and companies and corporations keep closing down. Even concerts, you go to the Motley Crue concert, and it’s $203 to get in, not that it’s the band’s fault. You look at overpriced gas and schools closing down, and here in Chicago there has been like 1,400 shootings this year alone, and people are just frustrated out there. That’s the problem – there is no solution. It’s like trying to put a band-aid on a gun-shot wound. But if we all get together and show respect for one another and try to help our fellow man, we have a chance to turn it around. Everyone is just too busy to help other people, but we’ve got to help each other or we’re done, period.
SLUDGE: What about two-parent families? I think it’s important to take marriage more seriously, and to not have children until you’re financially stable. That’s where it all starts, I think. What do you think?
Well, two-parent familes were a big thing in the 50s and 60s, with people having family dinners together every night, and I grew up in the 70s and was still a big part of that tradition. But nowadays, there is not as much structure, and I’ve gone through two marriages myself. It’s tough. No one gets married anymore because they’re afraid it’s not going to work out. It’s nice, the old tradition and family values, but the way we’re looking at it now, we need help in a lot of different ways. But yeah Gerry, it starts with family absolutely, and great teachers because there needs to be respect for human lives. You don’t shoot your brothers and sisters. You look out for them.
People are out there fighting and doing whatever so they can pay the next electricity bill or the next gas bill, and that whole system is so corrupt anyway that I don’t even want to get into it, but the corruption is what’s killing the middle class; there are just the poor and rich. The billionaires are buying up the millionaires. We need a lot of work, a lot of work to do, and like I said, I am here just to maybe provide a small little bright spot. We’re a good band, and maybe I can help by providing some music.
SLUDGE: You know, in California, they’ve cut out music from the curriculum in schools.
Yeah, I don’t know why anyone would do that because music is such a healing thing for all people, and it’s been proven in every class of society — music brings families together. I remember how exciting it was when a new record would come out from your favorite band like Rod Stewart or Queen, and you’d get all excited. Nowadays it’s not even big news. I believe music is a healer for all diseases, and someone needs to provide that in the education system. To cut off music in schools is nothing but a shortcut and just bad thinking.
SLUDGE: By the way, do you like The Babys? They’re my favorite band, and they’re back together.
Oh, I was always a big fan of The Babys. I actually toured with them a long time ago, and I just saw John Waite recently with Survivor. He still has a beautiful voice. It’s rare these days for big stars to come to town because it’s so expensive to tour – if you want a tour bus, it’s like $1,000 a day, and that’s just expenses before anyone in the band gets paid, like the shittiest tour bus in the country it costs that much at least. That’s why bands today, they’re like weekend warriors doing fly-in shows cause it’s so expensive to tour. Ninety percent of these bands, they’re confusing motion with progress. Unless you’re really big like Elton John or Paul McCartney or Lady Gaga, you can forget about production and all those lights in back that make you look so cool. It’s better to get seven or eight bands together, charge like 40 bucks and make a lot people happy.
SLUDGE: Oh by the way, is your new album on amazon or itunes or where?
Yeah, it’s No. 30 this week on amazon, and you can also get it at any record store.
SLUDGE: And tell me more about the band. Is this Johnny Monaco’s second stint in the band?
Yeah it’s his second stint. And we have Eric Donner on drums. His dad was famous. When Robert Plant was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he named Eric’s dad as one of his favorite singers.
SLUDGE: Is he a good drummer?
Oh, he is sickening. He is so fantastic. He slams the cans. The band sounds as good as ever, as good as we’ve ever sounded.
SLUDGE: It’s been 10 years since Derek Frigo died. Do you miss him?
Oh yeah. I think of him every time I listen to the old records. He played on our debut record through the seventh record, and Derek had a lot of fans, just a really talented musician, and no one can ever take that away from him. He was one of the greatest guitarists ever, and everyone looked up to him, a real rock star, great looking. Even Eddie Van Halen and Joe Perry, they’ve all acknowledged him.
SLUDGE: Derek once told me he was going to play in Mick Jagger’s solo band just before Enuff Z’Nuff got signed.
That’s true. He flew out and had some meetings with Mick, and Mick said, “I love him, but I don’t know if I can control him.” It was between Derek and Joe Satriani as the end, they were the final two, and Mick went with Joe Satriani, and just after that we signed with Atco/Atlantic.
SLUDGE: What about your old drummer Vicki Foxx. I loved the way he played drums.
He is in Los Angeles now, no longer playing with the Veronicas, but he’s doing very well with two kids and a big pool. He made a lot of money with Vince Neil and the Veronicas, and he did really well, and he’s a terrific rock star. He may be retired, I am not sure. I haven’t seen him in a while but he sends some texts. I know he’s done some great stuff. He kills on the drums.
SLUDGE: I remember when I first met Enuff Z’Nuff, you had a great manager named Bob Brigham. Whatever happened to him?
He runs a big production company now called PRG nocturne. They do Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney and a bunch of others. He’s the CEO. He’s very successful. He’s huge.
SLUDGE: Actually, Doc McGee was the very first manager.
Yeah, I saw both of them a few days ago in Chicago at the KISS concert. I have a laminate for the whole tour. We said hello to Eric and Gene and Paul, and it was nothing but hugs and kisses. Doc asked if I was OK and told me anything I need, I got it. He and Brigham, we hung out for a couple of hours, and it was terrific. The Dead Daisies played, too, and they’re a good band. And Def Leppard was on fire. I toured with them, so I know the band well, and this was maybe the best performance I’ve ever seen from them live. They were great.
SLUDGE: Have you ever noticed the incredible longevity and success from bands from Chicago. In addition to yourselves, there is Styx and REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick and the band Chicago, and they’re all still doing very well.
Well, there is a reason. Let me tell you, they all had great records and timeless songs, plus good management and good agencies, and most important they kept on touring. The more you tour, the better you play.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at [email protected]