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Friday, August 10, 2018

Exclusive Interview: Enuff Z'Nuff Returns with New Music and a Spot on the 'SiriusXM Hair Nation Tour'

(Photo: Dave Steckert)

I think that most people believe that once you "make it" in the music industry you're sort of set for life if you handle your money properly. The actual truth is that the music business is at best, a harsh place to try and exist. You could be at the top of the charts and playing sold-out shows now and in six months you're back to waiting tables or washing dishes. The only solid guarantee is that every star eventually falls from the sky and then it takes talent, timing and unshakable determination to get back up again. That's why I love to see an old school band with a plan get another real shot to reclaim their spot amongst those stars.

Enuff Z'Nuff is the latest group to do just that. The band first formed back in 1984 with Chip Z'Nuff leading the way on lead vocals and guitar. They had a few solid hits like "Fly High Michelle" and "New Thing" that were in heavy rotation on MTV. Back in the day, being on MTV every four hours meant that you were part of the crop of headbanger heaven bands that sold out huge venues and raked in tons of cash from (actual physical) record sales. Enuff Z'Nuff may have fit into that mold but their sound has never actually just been straight metal. There also include pop, rock, blues and a touch of soul stylings in their songs and they have a catalog which runs 20 albums deep. Not bad for a band from Blue Island, Illinois. 

While band members have come and gone, Chip Z'Nuff's positive determination to continue writing and performing has not only remained, but it continues to flourish. Enuff Z'Nuff is not only back with a new album, Diamond Boy (due out on August 10), but its' first single from it, "Metalheart" is already catching fire. Last week it was announced that the band (Z'Nuff, Tony Fennell on guitar, Troy Stoffregen on guitar and Dan Hill on drums) will hit the road this fall as part of SiriusXM's Hair Nation 2018 Tour.

Clearly, it's a rebirth for the band and Chip couldn't be happier. I had a chance to speak with him this week and his excitement is infectious. A few minutes into the conversation I found myself really rooting for his band to take these new opportunities and turn them into something even better.

M3 Rock Festival 2016
(Photo: Dave Steckert)

Cate Meighan: Enuff Z'Nuff seems to be experiencing a bit of a rebirth and the fans are thrilled to see you guys back in a big way. How does it all feel for you now?

Chip Z'Nuff:  The fan loyalty level is just amazing, I mean let's face it, things change and as an artist, I'm still out here trying to figure out what will trip their trigger. So for our band to still have that kind of base after so many years, it feels really great. There's a lot of groups like us still out there pulling in great attendance at their shows and it's because the music is strong and has lasted the test of time. That really says a lot There aren't a lot of radio stations really supporting rock-n-roll, however, any of the big bands that are out there, they're selling out arenas and stadiums. I think guys like Guns N' Roses have really given rock the shot in the arm that it needed. If you put all of those bands from the 80's and 90's together, they sold hundreds of millions of records. I'm really rooting for the newer bands out there like The Struts and Greta Van Fleet. I'd like to see some of them get a big break because it's such a fleeting and difficult business right now.

CM: Record sales used to be the biggest part of the business!

CZ: Yeah and you're never going to see that now with groups because people don't always buy the music, they get it for free. It's something the fans need to realize, that it takes hundreds of hours to create the music and then it costs a Brinks truck full of money to actually pay for the record. It's a different business right now and while bands love to go out and play live shows and do meet and greets, they also HAVE to do these things in order to stay alive financially. You play a two-hour show and then you rush back to the merch booth to say hi to the fans. It's something you really have to do now and it's important to the fans because back in the old days they couldn't get near their favorite musicians. Thankfully I love meeting the fans and I appreciate them. Steven Tyler says it best, "If you want to be successful in this business you've got to want it 24 hours a day." and I think that's true so meeting those who support the music is really important. I also think that Enuff Z'Nuff fans know that they are a huge part of our existence and that's why they're still supporting our music.

CM: I know that you're excited because your twentieth album, Diamond Boy, drops on August 10th. Has your writing process changed over the years and what inspired you this time around?

CZ: It has changed a little bit. There are so many great songs already out there, how many times can you say the same things? That's the biggest fear for any musician, just running out of material. When you look at bands like Aerosmith or Cheap Trick it's amazing how they keep coming up with songs and material. But there really is inspiration everywhere if you pay attention. Whether it's lipstick on a glass or something that someone else says that catches your attention as it slips off their tongue. The world is full of inspiration and you just hope that the songs come to you. For me as an artist, I might go a month without anything and then bingo, I'll write 3 songs in one day. I can't always explain what triggers it but I'm grateful that the songs still come to me.

This record was no exception. When Frontiers Music said that they were going to up our deal to include three records, that made me so excited and I just started to write about everything going on in my life. It's like an autobiography of things that I've been through and things that I've seen. The way the world has changed gave me tons of ideas for songs and we hashed out this record in about 17 days. It was incredible and we recorded it fairly quickly on two-inch tape like the old guys did. In the early days Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen and all of those great bands recorded on two-inch tape and so we decided to do the same. We played it live, had no room for error, no pro-tools stuff, and very minimal overdubs. We didn't want to overproduce this record and go crazy on it because we wanted to be able to go right out and perform it live. We wanted to sound just like the album live and so that was a big challenge, to not go overboard with production and I think we nailed it.

CM: That worked out pretty perfectly since you'll be performing on the SiriusXM Hair Nation Tour from September through November.

CZ: This is the first time in twenty years where we have just made a record and the label has us already set up to tour. Usually, you make the record and watch for the first 4-8 weeks to see if there's any traction. If the spark doesn't cause a fire then maybe you'll do a few shows but you're going to be making another record sooner rather than later, and that's if the label even still has confidence in you. The last record, Clown's Lounge, did well enough for them to tell us to make another one. We gave them the new album Diamond Boy and right away they got us on the Hair Nation Tour, which made us realize we actually have a chance again.

In the old days you had to sell 50,000 albums to make Billboard's top 200 album list, now with our album coming out in August and this tour starting in September, there's actually a chance for Enuff Z'Nuff to see a little bit of action. We hope that people will buy the record and it'll make them want to come and see us play live. Maybe we'll make some noise, move some units and get to do another tour after the Hair Nation Tour wraps up.

(Photo: Dave Steckert)

CM: I love your excitement right now, it really feels like a fresh start, doesn't it?

CZ: This is a real test for Enuff Z'Nuff right now because it really is a new chapter in our band life. Everything is new and some great things are happening for us. If you told me ten years ago that this would happen for us again I would never have believed you, so I'm determined to work my ass off now to make sure that we make the most of this opportunity. This is our 20th album and there's never a guarantee that you'll get to do another, so it's truly amazing to get to keep doing this. I give so much credit to the band for wanting to continue to make new music with me. A lot of the guys our age are living in the past and playing their songs from a long time ago. It's an honor to be able to play stuff that's decades old, especially when you know that people still love it, but it's risky and a real challenge to put out something new. I give my band credit for being bold and brave enough to do it.

CM: As a band, do you plan ahead or do you just go with the flow and let things unfold for you?

CZ: Obviously, I'll have ideas or a template for what I hope to do but some things just come to you. There's no way to plan things out to perfection so as I sit here, the glass is half full. It's a positive vibe every single day and I wait for the team (laughing). The inmates are no longer running this asylum. I listen to my management team, the booking agent and anyone else that is truly looking out for our best interests right now. I look at what they suggest and generally go with it and it seems to work out well that way.

Obviously, some things come in at the last minute because this business is predicated on friendships and years of business relationships, so we'll show up and support each other.  You can never plan completely what you're going to do because we're living in a time of too much product and not enough demand. So when someone asks, you get on that plane and go. If you want it then you better get out there and hustle for it because no one is just going to hand it to you.

We're going to make the most of things right now. The band is sounding stronger than ever live and we have a ton of shows happening, aside from the Hair Nation tour. We're going to take this new record and bring it to South America, Mexico, Europe and wherever else. We know that there are fans all over the place and I want us to really reach them.

M3 Rock Festival 2016
(Photo: Dave Steckert)

CM: The first single from Diamond Boy, "Metalheart" has been well-received by both the fans and the critics. That has to make you feel pretty good.

CZ: "Metalheart" is doing really well and I never would have guessed that it would (laughing). I write the songs but I don't pick what comes out as a single, the record company basically comes in and tells us what will be the first song. We can give a suggestion but that's it, they do have the final say and they were really smart to put that one out first. "Metalheart" is getting some real traction because the pop fans like it as well as the rock fans. We're not really a metal band, or just a rock band, or a pop band. We end up with all three of those elements in our music, which is great for us, but I think it's hard to actually categorize Enuff Z.Nuff's sound. They say you are what you eat and we definitely have moments of resembling the sound of those groups that we grew up on. You might hear something Beatles-esque in our music, or a riff might remind you a little bit of a Zeppelin song. That's what we were raised on and those stylings have stayed with us. It's not just metal or just rock for us. We love it all and to not fall into just one category for our music is really a compliment that we love hearing. Sounding unique is what keeps people interested.

CM: So, the album is out on August 10th and the tour starts in September. Are there any other surprises coming for us?

CZ:  Actually, we just finished shooting videos for two singles with Paul McCartney's videographer here in New York, which was amazing. The guy is terrific and he has a wonderful sense of things and so I'm really excited to have these videos come out in conjunction with the record. I think the fans will love them!

M3 Rock Festival 2016
(Photo: Dave Steckert)

CM: What would you like to tell those fans that are so excited to see Enuff Z'Nuff thriving again?

CZ: I hope all of our fans live to be 100 years old (laughing), I really do. I also hope that their worst day of this year is like the very best day that they had last year. Nothing but great, positive things for our fans. To say thank you is not nearly enough. I'm going to keep writing the best songs that I can and putting out the best music possible. I want our fans to know that it's a new chapter for Enuff Z'Nuff, we're back and we can't wait to see you all at the shows.

Head over to Enuff Z'Nuff's official site to keep up to date on everything that the band has going on. Check out upcoming tour dates here and support the band by buying a copy of Diamond Boy here!





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