Enuff Z’Nuff - Finer Than Sin - Autumn 2022
Finer Than Sin
The Skid Row and Enuff Z’Nuff UK tour has been described as the hottest ticket of 2022, and we at Rock Today absolutely agree. The original billing was expected to include both Winger and Phil X and The Drills. The reason for the late-stage change is unclear though this isn’t something we are keen to dwell on. Our interests lie firmly in celebrating what an amazing opportunity this is for both the fans and Enuff Z’Nuff for their music to be heard on the bigger stages where it belongs. We catch up with lead singer and bass player Chip Z’Nuff ahead of the show at the Manchester Ritz to get the full story. We are met by a bright and breezy Chip, fresh from his leg-stretching wander around the city centre. Following the warmest of welcomes, we enjoy a Spinal Tap experience as we attempt to navigate to the band’s dressing room through the endless network of corridors that exist backstage, though we only pass the Skid Row dressing room twice before we arrive at our destination. Only slightly dizzy from our adventure, we make ourselves comfortable on the leather sofas and our conversation begins…
Let’s start with the current tour. You are halfway through a fantastic UK tour with Skid Row, and this tour is something that our readers have described as the hottest ticket of 2022. What does it mean to be part of such a special tour?
It’s a blessing from above, that’s the first thing I’ll say! I’ve been doing this for quite a long time and I’ve been coming to this country since 1989 so that’s pretty significant in itself, but here we are all these years later still touring around the country. We’ve played some big shows in the UK over the years. Andy Copping over at Download put us on there back in 2010. That was great, and he gave Enuff Z’Nuff 2 shows which was very significant. To be able to come over here now and to show the staying power this band has and how resilient we are as a group certainly says a lot. We are a last-minute add-on. We weren’t going to be on this tour. It was Winger and Phil X and the Drills, and it fell into our lap and we were lucky. It’s because we’re in a business that’s predicated on friendships and relationships and I go back with the Skid Row guys 35 years when they first did their debut record. They were at Royal Recorders Studio in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and Doc McGhee was managing them and Enuff Z’Nuff came in to do our debut and then Doc McGhee ended up being our manager. We spend quality time together, both of us honing our chops and making those great records. We had Paul Lani working at the helm for us, they had Michael Wagener. It was a marriage before it was even a marriage and just a wonderful opportunity for us. Our first albums came out and both did significant numbers, MTV got behind us, radio was receptive to the tracks, and that’s what started the relationship. And now here we are all these years later. They heard Enuff Z’Nuff was available, they called us up. It’s a feather in our cap and we’re very grateful for the opportunity. The Gang’s All Here Tour has so far been doing gangbuster numbers, the people have spoken and they spoke loud. They love both bands and we’re very grateful that we were accepted on to this tour. It changes the whole spectrum of what we’re trying to do as a band. For years we were relegated to playing clubs, and that’s rightly so with the changing of the guard back in the 90s with Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana. But we never stopped. A lot of bands went away and maybe it was time for them to, but we just didn’t stop. Who gears up success with failure? We all wanted to move forward and once I put the new lineup together with Tony Fennell, Tory Stoffregen and Daniel Benjamin Hill, my Dad said we finally got it right after all these years and he’s probably right! (Laughs!) Here we are now after all that hard work, and the opportunities follow.
I think one of the interesting things is that the decision for Enuff Z’Nuff to be a part of this tour appears to have been made at a quite late stage. Tell me about the conversation that took place that led to you joining this tour.
Our agent out here in England contacted Skid Row and mentioned that Enuff Z’Nuff was available. Then they called us when we were on the road on tour with The Dead Daisies. My guitar player, Tory Stoffregen came up to me and goes “Bro! We’re getting the Skid Row Tour!” and I said “You’ve got to be kidding me!”. I was setting up the merchandise and were playing the Landis Theatre in New Jersey, another beautiful venue, and I just knew we had to grab it. I called our agent, Artists Worldwide, and they told us “Don’t get too excited because nobody is going to buying Porsches and Maseratis but here’s a chance to play some great audiences and you get a chance to play with your friends in Skid Row”. It was a no brainer so we all grabbed it.
You did have to reschedule some of your own headline shows in order to take part, didn’t you.
Yeah, we certainly did. After we took the dates, some of the clubs that we were headlining were disappointed because they felt it was going to hurt their sales. But I said “No it’s not. Those fans who come out to see Enuff Z’Nuff on the Skid Row tour to see a 40 minute set are going to want to see a full show so if anything I think it’s going to elevate our perception”. And we were able to manoeuvre things. I think there was one club that dropped out of the whole thing. Everybody else is taking a chance and I think it’s going to pay off for them because we wouldn’t play to this many people on our own and a lot of the venues that we are participating in on the second half of our tour, we’re talking 500 seat places and every night we are playing on this tour there are 1500 people here minimum. I believe that at the end of this whole thing people are going to look at it and say that we made the right move. We love your country and we certainly don’t want to ruffle any feathers but we know that if we didn’t take this we would still be finding ourselves confusing motion with progress.
You have a fantastic new record, Finer Than Sin, due for release on the 11th November. With just a couple of weeks ago, what sort of thoughts are going through your mind at album release time?
I think we’ve made a great record! To be honest with you, I’m happy with the songs and I believe that it’s coming out at the right time. I’m not writing for the radio anymore and I’m not trying to get hit songs, I’m just writing songs about what’s happening in the world. There’s plenty of subject matter out there and I just wanted to put together a nice concise record. It’s 10 songs, that’s what Frontiers wanted, and I think that we’ve come up with a nice potpourri of rock and pop. It’s a nice mixture. It’s well produced, there’s not a lot of overdubs, and we recorded most of it in my studio. We did a little bit at Tony’s studio in Boston and we also did some stuff over at a place in Chicago, Stonecutter, along with my drummer’s studio, ShadowCast studios. Between all four studios we were able to come up with a nice, solid, concrete piece of work and I’m looking forward to seeing how the fans react. The first two singles have come out. The first one is called Catastrophe and the second one is called Intoxicated, and I think both songs are great representations of what we are all about. We are a song band at the end of the day.
Well let’s talk about some of the tracks. Soundcheck is a phenomenal track to open the album with and it would be an amazing song to open a show with, even though it is entirely instrumental. It’s perhaps an unusual approach to have an instrumental track open the album but it’s one that absolutely works. It builds a massive sense of anticipation! What made you take this approach and were you thinking that this could be a song that you take to the stage with?
It’s really an idea from the whole band and we did it every single night before we did the record. We would jam it every single night. I just thought ‘Man, why don’t we start the record with this where we just plug the guitars in and we’re getting ready to play as a band?’ and that was it. I really didn’t overthink it to be honest with you. After we recorded the track I thought ‘shall we put some lyrics to it? Is there a story here?’ No, the story is the riff. It’s a band coming into the studio and getting ready to make a record. That was my approach exactly. At the end of the night we’d put it in the set where I would switch over and Tory would give me the guitar and he’d play bass and we’d just jam. Sometimes we’d bring up guests to play with us. Warner Hodges came up and jammed with us on it. To me it’s a potpourri of putting together a rock record and not trying to be too cute about it. We are a real rock band and you get what you get.
The second track, Catastrophe, was the album’s first release. It references crack, cocaine, LSD and includes lyrics such as ‘your lies when you steal all the energy, it’s more than a crime it’s a catastrophe’. There is a really powerful message here and I just wanted to explore whether this is simply a great song, whether it’s intended to be a sort of campaign against drugs or whether it’s more personal than that. Where did the inspiration come from to write this song?
I prefer to leave the interpretation of songs in the ears and eyes of the beholder. If I talk and mention what I think it’s about, it takes away from what someone else might interpret it as. It could be personal, maybe somebody’s gone through some tough times somewhere and they can relate to that song, but it certainly has lyrics that slip off the tongue quite easily. I like the aggressiveness of it and I like the fact that it’s still melodic at the same time. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the record. When we first gave the album to Frontiers they said they wanted to go with another track on the record and I had to beg the label and say “Guys, please take a listen to this song. This one feels right and it’s kind ofunique sounding with the chord changes and the ups and downs of it, the peaks and the valleys”. I just think it’s a song that if we are going to get any radio play at all maybe that might be the one and I didn’t want to be too safe, because those lyrics aren’t safe. And this is not a safe band. We are not just a pop band. I think there are elements of different styles in our music. I think we are a little pop, a little rock, a little metal. I think we were alternative before alternative to be honest! When we first put our debut record out it was hard to categorise because we had so many different elements to our style of music and so many layers. This track is no different and shows where the band is that right now: punching, powerful and we have something special here.
It’s interesting when you say you want people to find their own interpretations and that leads me neatly onto the next track Steal The Light. This a great up-tempo track and musically so incredibly catchy but I think it’s the lyrics themselves that had the biggest impact on me and quite simply the line “All you put me through you steal the light”. It’s just a wonderful way of describing how you feel and I think that a lot of people will connect with this song in their own way. To give an example, one of our readers talked about how this song powerfully describes their struggles with depression. Was there anyone in particular you were thinking of when you wrote this song?
I’d like to plead The Fifth on that one, to be honest with you. I feel a lot of people can relate to that song because they went through depression and some tough times, whether within their families or within friendships. It’s a rock song, for sure. It’s got some balls to it and I want to play it in the set every single night. I think it’s a great one. It kind of follows the same suit as the Diamond Boy record and Metalheart where it’s got this four-on-the-floor, in-your-face, but the riff is one I had a long time ago. I listened to Tory playing guitar during soundcheck and it sort of gave me a little idea right there of what I wanted to do. The message there is pretty clear for everyone to listen to.
One song that I do need to ask you about is the cover of the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen. This must’ve been recorded before our monarch’s death in September. When the news came through surely you must’ve thought of this song? Why did you choose to record this particular song for the album?
It was a band idea and we’d talked about doing a Sex Pistols song. The Queen was an extraordinary woman who really left an indelible mark. She took over in 1952 so none of us were even born but the things that she’s done will leave an indelible mark never to be experienced ever again by anybody else. I just thought it was a good track that fit on the record and I liked the way the band played. It was a solid vocal on my part. I was a big Johnny Rotten fan and I love Glen Matlock who wrote all those Sex Pistols songs but never got credited for it. Now he plays in Blondie which is great. But it’s about paying our respects to our forbearers. We’ve always loved bands from over across the pond. The Sex Pistols is one of them. It was quite a challenge because we know that Motörhead recorded a version of that song. After we recorded it, we found out that other bands had recorded it but I think we gave it what it needed. It’s very melodic and very heavy. I think it shows another side of Enuff Z’Nuff.
A word from Skid Row’s Scotti Hill...
Skid Row and Enuff Z’Nuff have a very special relationship and it began when they recorded their debut albums together at Royal Recorders Studios in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. We caught up with Skid Row guitarist Scotti Hill to understand what it means to have Enuff Z’Nuff Luton tour with them:
“It’s fantastic! I mean, we go back to the making of our first record with Enuff Z’Nuff. Those guys were hanging around the studios with us, we were making friends way back then in 1988 and we are still tight. Having Chip here is like having a brother here. I love those guys!”
As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on what an incredible album Finer Than Sin really is and what an incredible experience it is to be at an Enuff Z’Nuff show. It is with the highest of recommendations that we invite you to find out more by heading over to www.enuffznuff.com.
In the meantime, enjoy these copyright free photos from Enuff Z’Nuff’s Manchester show on the 27th October and the video to the lead single Catastrophe below.