Interview: Donnie Vie & Chip Z'Nuff, Enuff Z'Nuff

Donnie Vie, Chip Z'Nuff, DerekFrigo, & Vikki Fox

ANIMAL INSTINCT


Joe Mackett finds out how Enuff Z'Nuff have survived record label upheavals and an absent drummer saga to return better than ever with Animals With Human Intelligence

Enuff Z'Nuff's debut left me a little high and dry. Strength the second album however was a different kettle of cod, chock full of classic rock tunes. One thing it didn't provide for them though was commercial success. However, in March '93 Enuff Z'Nuff released an album entitled Animals With Human Intelligence, which, on the basis of the sheer quality of the songs contained could break the band in a huge way.

All has not been rosy for the band during the interim between Strength and Animals though. Firstly vocalist/ guitarist Donnie Vie and lead guitarist Derek Frigo have had to overcome dependence difficulties, secondly they switched record labels, and thirdly the structure of the group has changed with drummer Vikki Fox having jumped ship to join Vince Neil.


SNEAKY


Despite these setbacks both Donnie and bassist Chip Z'Nuff were in fine fettle when I met up with them recently. Fox's departure was the first point on the agenda. Did Fox consult you about doing the Vince solo single used for the film California Man?

Donnie: "No, he did it all sneaky and underhanded. I guess he just couldn't stick it out and wait for paydirt so he went for the cash-in with Vince."

Chip: "Vince bought him a Porsche and gave him fifty grand. He took that and played on our record. He's an opportunist but we wish him the best."

Diplomatic to the last these boys. A new sticksman Ricky Parent has already been recruited.

Donnie: "Now we've got Ricky who's a typical drummer just like Vikki, but he's more masculine, more precise, and makes sure the beat is the priority so we're better live now as we can each bring each of our personnas to the fore."

The reasons for switching of record labels from Atco to Arista would seem to be that Enuff Z'Nuff felt they were being held back.

Donnie: "We don't want to say too much about something that died and went away. There was a load of political bullshit that kept us from getting bigger, to keep us behind the line. We got fucked."

SPIRIT


With over 45 songs written, Enuff Z'Nuff began recording in March of 1992, but various reasons have kept the record off the shelves.

Donnie: "It would have been done last April but there was a lot of dickin' around. We produced most of it ourselves and a few tracks in LA with Richie Zito. We wanted to capture the spirit of the demos. The Vocal for Innocence was done in Chip's dining room and they took it off the 8-track demo."

Chip: "We finished it last August but as all the playlists unfurl in the last quarter we waited to come in fresh this year. Just let everyone know that we're back and we're ready."

With Strength being such an angry record lyrically, are the words on Animals purposefully uplifting?

Donnie: "Not really. Derek and I had a long battle back from drugs. I was damn nearly a dead man. The guys told me I had to kick everything. The last record was full of depressing messages 'cos our lives were full of shit. This one is to forget about the world and have a good time. Animals is a little bit different 'cos we've straightened out and there's a whole new vibe."

Does it disappoint them though that despite having such widerpread critical acclaim, commercial success has eluded them?

Donnie: "We like that. We started slowly, gradually building. It takes 2 or 3 albums and I figure we're on par. If this doesn't do it then next time you see me I'll admit I was drastically wrong!"

Categorizing Enuff Z'Nuff is a pretty futile procedure. Their music spans across barriers. From the hard rock of Black Rain to the Beatles-inspired harmonies of the wonderful Right By Your Side, or the sublime Innocence. What do the band make of the aforementioned tag 'Heavy Metal Hippies'?

Donnie: "I don't know about heavy metal, but we're more of a rock n' roll band. Whatever U2, Bon Jovi, and those cats are I guess we're in that category. A lot of bands get stuck in one groove and they get boring. Our album has so many different styles to expand on."

Chip: "All great bands have their signatures. What we're trying to do with our third record is establish ourselves."

1993 is set to be a big year for rock acts, what with recent releases from icons such as Coverdale/ Page and Aerosmith. Animals With Human Intelligence is strong enough to stand proudly amongst the higher profile competition.

Joe Mackett
Riff Raff
June, 1993
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