Saturday, July 22, 2023

“Sin” and Survival: Inside Enuff Z’Nuff's Latest Glam Slam

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A phone call with Enuff Z’Nuff co-founder/bassist/vocalist Chip Z’Nuff is perfect for summertime. Why? Because the whole damn thing feels like a rollercoaster.

Like every conversation I’ve had with the dude over the years, I held on tight during our latest chat as the Hard Rock veteran took me on a sprawling journey fueled by the kind of enthusiasm I’d typically expect from a teenager who had just recorded his first garage demo. Thirty-four years after his band’s eponymous debut album delivered “New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle” and put his band on the map, Chip’s still hitting everything he does at 100 miles per hour.

As always, he’s got a lot going on. Currently, Enuff Z’Nuff—Chip, guitarist Tory Stoffregen, drummer Daniel Benjamin Hill, and new guitarist Jason Camino (formerly of Nelson)—is on the road with the second installment of its Glam Slam Metal Tour, which launched in 2022 with Pretty Boy Floyd and The Midnight Devils in tow. This time around, the band is joined by British Rock veterans The Quireboys (for whom Z’Nuff is filling in on bass on this tour) and Boston-based band Bad Marriage, featuring former Tesla guitarist Tommy Skeoch.

With everyone and their mothers on tour these days—and with average ticket prices more expensive than typical monthly car payments—Chip and company are beating the competition by offering an affordable night of solid music. 

“Instead of people paying $100, $200, or $500 for a ticket, they can come out for $30 and see three great bands that have a long legacy of great Rock songs,” he says.

Enuff Z’ Nuff’s current tour follows the November 2022 release of its 17th studio album, Finer Than Sin. Described by Chip as “a potpourri of Rock and Pop,” the 10-song collection is the third Enuff Z’ Nuff record released since the summer of 2020. (Chip, who apparently never sleeps, also released his second solo album, Perfectly Imperfect, in March 2022.) Never one to rest on his laurels, he tells me that the songs on the new album (sans the spirited cover of The Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen,” of course) were all written “in five, 10 minutes” at his place in Blue Island, Illinois.

“A lot of songs come to me late at night when it’s quiet and there’s nobody around. I just fiddle around with my old 1962 Danelectro guitar while sitting on the couch and smoking a joint.”

This smoky creative haze yielded another classic release from a band that has never once made a bad album. Check out the album's first single, the outrageously catching "Catastrophe," below.

“[Finer Than Sin] showcases the world through my rose-colored glasses. If you listen to how the lyrics and the songs are put together, it’s basically a synopsis of how I see everything right now […] My inspiration was what’s on the plate for what we’ve got to deal with in society nowadays. I wanted [the album] to be aggressive; I wanted the album to be strong—big guitars, big drums, and fat bass. But most notably, I wanted good storytelling with some nice abstract harmonies and colors.”

“Aggressive” is the best word to describe the album’s most musically left-of-center track, “Lost And Out Of Control.”

“It shows a harder side of the band. The topic of the song is the same way, too. It’s about a guy or a woman who can’t be controlled—a person who lives their life on a shoestring and doesn’t know what to expect next. There’s a reckless abandonment to that song. It might be one of the heaviest ones Enuff Z’ Nuff has ever recorded.”

Chip’s recent music machine also includes a guest appearance on Born To Be Wild, the latest album by singer and film legend Ann-Margret. The bassist duets with her on a cover of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers’ “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.”

“I got a call from Brian Perera over at Cleopatra Records, who said, ‘We’re doing a record with Ann-Margret.’ I said, ‘Oh, man! I’ve always loved her! She’s such a little Scandinavian goddess—just a wonderful singer and a great dancer.’ He said, ‘Would you like to play bass on it?’ I told him I’d love to. I went down to the studio and played bass on the track. They called me back a couple of weeks later and said, ‘It sounds great. Would you be willing to do a duet with her?’ I said, ‘I’d be honored!’ I wasn’t even sure I could do it, to be honest. But if someone asks you if you could a job, just tell them you’ll do it and then learn it right away and make it happen.”

Other guests on Born To Be Wild include Pete Townsend of The Who, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, and The Fuzztones.

Not surprisingly, Chip will be keeping busy once the current tour wraps up. Work on a new Enuff Z’Nuff studio album is already underway, and the band plans to release a live album (recorded at LA’s legendary Whisky a Go Go) in the not-too-distant future. Not bad for a band that’s scratching at the door of its 40th anniversary. In an industry not known for inspiring longevity, Enuff Z’Nuff—and its sole remaining original member— won’t be throwing in the towel any time soon.

“It’s a blessing from above to still be able to move forward. We believe in the legacy of Enuff Z’Nuff. We’ve done six records in the last six years, and I still think there’s gas in the tank. At the end of the day, we’re a real Rock ‘n’ Roll band that shows up and kicks ass whenever we play. We don’t know when it’ll end or when the last show’s going to be, so we just want to leave an indelible mark wherever we go.”

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