Donnie Vie is best known as the lead singer/co founder of Enuff Z’Nuff, a little band that has contributed a great deal of classic power pop/hard rock to the musical landscape since 1985. Donnie is currently spending his days writing, recording and touring with Donnie Vie Band who are getting set to release a new album called “Wrapped Around My Middle Finger”. We recently sat down with Donnie to talk about his past, present and future…..read on.
Q: Mister Donnie Vie……What in the hell have you been up to?
A: I had a band thing going called L.A. Smogg but it didn’t quite turn out as I hoped it would. I was looking to do something that basically was a lot different than Enuff Z’Nuff. A different person, different co-writer, that would help me come up with a lot of different things or new things. I have done my thing on 15 plus albums from EZN and solo stuff so I was looking to do something new but we got about halfway through it and it just wasn’t working so we all sort of went our separate ways. I was looking for a new approach after writing pretty much the meat and potatoes of most of that stuff from Enuff Z’Nuff, with some help from Chip you know but a LOT of the melodies, riffs, lyrics were all me and you just get to the point where it’s like “How many songs is that now?” and you start looking for maybe some fresh blood or new approaches but L.A. Smogg just wasn’t meant to be. I was trying to form something new with someone else after all this time. I’m a melody guy, I come up with melodies, that kind of thing….I’m not the world’s greatest guitar player or anything like that but my specialty is in coming up with the framework of a song, the melody and rounding it out with someone, in this case a really talented guy named C.J. Zeuter who helped me come up with you know the grooves and beats and put about a half an album worth of stuff together trying to explore some different avenues. The problem was then we stopped writing and that was it….but he is a really great guy, really talented writer and the stuff…..well, after all that… it sort of sounds like all the stuff I do (laughs) so I am starting all over now with the solo thing. I’ve been recording these last few months, in addition to playing live and it’s just really natural feeling. It’s really intimate and organic and it’s just my whole thing….not a lot of buzzsaw guitars, more of a rock/pop approach. It’s really different now not writing under the influence of lots of different substances. I always felt that they aided me in my writing or whatever like a lot of people but I don’t know….it’s real natural doing it clear headed. I’m in a very different place now in my life and this album sort of reflects that….rather than whatever was being reflected by all the substances. To be honest, a lot of the substances really just got me in the MOOD to write or do that stuff whereas now it feels more like I’m working…..but it’s good. You know, the difference between this band Donnie Vie Band and my stuff in Enuff Z’Nuff is pretty much the material we’re doing live and on the record. We’re working and we’re doing a lot of my songs from EZN that the band would never do. Enuff Z’Nuff, despite the amount of albums, has always been a pretty LAZY band. We would perform and stuff but we would do the EZN songs that Chip wanted to do, that were the most obvious ones we’ve played over and over and knew without a lot of extra rehearsal or effort that the band felt comfortable playing and stuff. If it wasn’t something Chip was comfortable playing or the band was real familiar with than we wouldn’t play it. It was basically just what could we pull off with the least amount of work or extra effort whereas with this band we took the approach of “What haven’t we played…..what different stuff do the fans wanna hear in addition to the obvious stuff”. We take a real hands on approach with listening to the fans and the internet stuff and the shows are really cool. I’m really working so much harder on this than on the EZN stuff and I will admit that. I am singing a lot of the higher range stuff and a lot of the true pop stuff that the heavy side of EZN might not have attempted.
Q: You still don’t sound like you’ve closed the door completely to doing Enuff Z’Nuff again with Chip whereas I don’t really hear Chip talk about the band so much anymore…I’m kind of surprised that you’re still open to it beyond what you’re doing know, but you are?
A: Oh sure. Look, everything I do is Enuff Z Nuff in some way. I am sure we will play again and I don’t think it’s so much that Chip is ignoring it or doesn’t give a fuck it’s just that he’s spreading himself pretty thin these days with the whole Steven Adler thing and I’m all doing my thing with my guys now and I’m sober. I guess he had to find a new drug addict to latch on to, I don’t know what he’s thinking. I love Chip, I Love Enuff Z’Nuff. We actually already have some stuff planned for this fall as far as some big festival EZN shows out there. I’m sort of trying to repair Enuff Z’Nuff in my own way out here with what I’m doing with these little intimate, up close shows and this summer tour. When I was out of the band for a while, taking some time off,trying to get better, they sort of dragged the name on and really hurt the whole thing a little bit at a time when it was better served to just shut it down. They were out there touring and playing to noone when the whole revival thing, reunion thing was on a down side and it sort of hurt the name at a time where he just needed to stop and regroup. When you’re pulling into places on a given night and playing to 30 or 40 people on a package band thing there’s a problem….I wasn’t there singing and Johnny Monaco did an amazing job recreating me but it’s not me. I mean, I go to a lot of these shows where it’s not the original singer and stuff and it can be fun still but at the same time….I don’t know….say what you want but a singer’s pretty important part of the lineup of a band. I know if I was a fan and I had to drive 30 or 40 miles to see Enuff Z Nuff and have to work in the morning I probably wouldn’t have gone either. I mean…..what can I say Chip worked it to death. He has always been THE ambassador of Enuff Z’Nuff and the band has NEVER been a big money maker even in the heyday. We’ve always been known as being a solid band and known for our songs and had credibility in those terms but we’ve never, ever made a lot of money you know….so I don’t blame him for doing what he’s doing with Steven Adler. Even though we are playing exactly the same clubs as Adler and pulling in the same or bigger crowds, Steven Adler has a LOT of money. He has a really, really nice bus and nice things and Chip is very, very comfortable. So, I get it. Steven gets that Appetite for Destruction money still and makes a good living playing on top of it and Chip is paid nicely. He likes the perks of living with a multimillionaire musician/reality TV star and I don’t blame him. He’s old, he doesn’t have a girl and he’s just kind of going for the ride. He deserves it, god knows he’s put enough time into this with Enuff Z’Nuff and we’ll do it again and play some shows together but right now I don’t see any real reason or purpose to he and I getting together and doing a new Enuff Z’Nuff album…..unless there’s a real reason to change that.
Q: We used to have some really great interviews with Chip back in the day and he is more than capable of weaving a tale. We were kind of surprised to hear him on Howard Stern recently and every time Howard mentioned being a big fan of Chip’s and Enuff Z’Nuff he just sort of fell silent. What gives Chip? It’s hard enough to get Howard to talk about what you want him to talk about you know?
A: Yeah….i caught that too. He’s been on twice in recent years…the first time was exclusively to talk about his dick and his sister and then the last time he was talking about his lack of a sex life and mentioned Enuff Z Nuff briefly and Howard asked something about “Donnie is back in the band?” and sort of got into it and then Chip just abruptly dropped it and threw me under the bus or whatever saying something dismissively about how I was “unable” to tour which was a ridiculous thing to say on air since he was currently booking shows with me and out playing with me at the same time as doing the Steven thing.
Q: What I really want to know is what was going on when you left the band for that stretch of time that you did?
A: I never, EVER intended to leave the band at that time. I never left the band. I have written and performed on every album the band has ever done. I thought we were taking some time off…..I needed to take some time off personally. I was having legal problems, medical problems that I had found out about at that time, depression problems and to be honest I was REALLY strung out on some shit and needed to come back to earth and get healthy and off the shit. On top of all this, I had lost some really important people in my life and was all fucked up about that. I really needed off the ride and needed some me time…..you know, it seemed like every time I needed to get my act together or clean my life up I could never take the time to do it. There was always something pending, always something Enuff Z’Nuff had set up and to really get yourself better you do need some time. There was never any time and it didn’t matter that I was gonna die if I didn’t stop so the show goes on and meanwhile I am taking HUGE risks and not only with my health but things like taking class A drugs into Japan and risking getting locked up for life overseas. Totally insane shit that’s just not worth it. I was finally starting to wake up and realize that I didn’t need it and what I needed to do was to take a break. So I thought……the logical thing to do was to take a break. We all thought we were invincible but then there’s breakdowns and deaths and lineup changes and I thought Chip and I should put the band on hold for a while. Besides that, like I said, the way the economy and touring climate was looking….it was a good time to shut it down for a while anyways. I thought that no matter how good the stuff we were doing was that our music was SOOO not happening in the public eye and the rock club scene was SOOO dying at that point so why beat a dying horse until it’s completely dead. Shut it down for a while. Take a break…..let it simmer and then come back and do something meaningful again when the demand is there which it clearly wasn’t. So what does Chip do but go and take it out again beat it lifeless. Again, with all due respect to Johnny Monaco (who fronted EZN in Donnie’s absence) who is a great performer and did a great job singing my stuff…..it’s not the same like I said before….all of these bands out there touring and trying to live up to the past while having revamped lineups….it helps to at least have the original singer. Also, what were they doing with Enuff Z Nuff while I was recovering?? because Johnny is a great songwriter and singer…..where are the songs? They never put out anything with Johnny and he’s an amazing, amazing writer…..I just don’t see the point.
Q: Was there ever a point in that down era where you just felt like throwing your guitar against a wall and saying “Screw music…..I’m out” and getting into another line of work or doing something else with your life?
A: Well, I kinda did do that John…..I had stopped altogether and gotten into a really, really negative relationship and burned a lot of bridges with a lot of people and was sort of left stranded and not sure what to do with myself. I will tell you I was really unsure of what to do and how to get out of my relationship situation and how to ask for help and get back to a normal situation. There was a big chunk of time there where I had no idea what to do with any aspect of my life and it took meeting Lisa, the love of my life, my fiancee for me to get back to living. She fixed so many things….so many things that had been wrong for so long. She made me see things about myself that I either never recognized or never acknowledged and at the same time provided me a love that I had been missing my entire life. She saved me from so many destructive things, not just substances that I was punishing myself for. On top of all that, she’s sweet, funny, beautiful and my best friend and helps me with everything. The only problem is that I love every minute of every day with her and that starts to work on your songwriting (laughs)…You can only write so many happy love songs it seems. When you’re miserable and depressed it just pours out of you for what it’s worth. It’s like any artist will tell you. Which is the reason why when you’re down and out and all fucked up on drugs it’s not so much a good time, you’re in misery and with that can come some amazing songs or paintings or writing or whatever it is that you do as an artist. I think I am coming to terms with it though and learning to function as a happy, normal human being instead of just as a fucked up animal. I was always told that’s all I was from as far back as I can remember even when I was making music, I was just the fucked up singer and was a drug addled animal and whore and a piece of shit and not worth anything and I really, truly believed it. Learning to live sober and enjoy it is a process of awakening and thanks to Lisa I am finally starting to live like a human being instead of this piece of meat, this tool, this creature that I convinced myself I was. Now, I don’t feel that way about myself anymore. She convinced me that I could do it all but that it was gonna be a lot of work and it is. It’s a lot of work (laughs).
Q: You have dealt with loss as a result of substances, “Fly High Michelle” talked about it in detail and then you lived it again with Derek (Frigo, guitarist on the first 3 EZN records)…….Did any of that echo in your mind as you were facing down the same demons?
A: Of course…..and I will add that all these people I watched die all swore up and down that I was the one with the problem and wrote me off as the dead man all those years ago. It took me facing up to why I was doing it…that I was an escape artist. I was trying to avoid everything by using rather than confronting or facing why I wanted to use. Like lots of people I had a fucked up childhood of course. So, push that away. I had learned not to really value myself, my health or my life very much. Like I said, Michelle, Derek, all those people including myself figured I would be in the “27” club you know, dead by 27….have some fun and leave a good mark. They’re gone and I’m still thankfully kicking. The fact that I am still here really put a kink in my plans because I sure as hell would have bet they were right. I think I was subconsciously trying to make sure they were right and now I’m still alive and trying to find my way.
Q: You grew up in a pretty mild environment in Blue Island, Illinois. We’re from the Rockford area and it can get pretty boring sometimes and make you stir crazy….did any of that factor into you growing up wild???
A: No and I didn’t grow up wild that came much, much later. I grew up scared. I never really even ventured into downtown (Chicago) at all as a kid except for the occasional St. Patrick’s day parade or something (laughs). I wouldn’t really say any of it affected me like that. I really remember being overwhelmed by the hugeness of the city and everything. It blew me away but at the same time kinda intimidated and scared me as a kid growing up. Then again, I grew up being scared of my own shadow in an abusive home so I have no idea what it was like for other kids who were more comfortable in their own skin and felt comfortable enough to enjoy it so much as to go out and get wild in town. There were a lot of insecurities and complexes and things that were goofy about me that most people didn’t get at first glance. I didn’t have a lot of friends as a consequence…..didn’t do a lot of driving or going out didn’t have any girlfriends. I lived in my own little cocoon of my, my music, my loud, lonely world in my headphones. I didn’t really feel comfortable venturing much further to be honest. I sat there listening to stuff and imagining a day where I could stand on a stage like they did and have everyone love me like I thought they did you know??? I spent a LOT of time listening to the Beatles and stuff….a lot. I eventually started writing and that was what I wanted to do but then alcohol came shortly after and then drugs. Anything to make me not feel. Shortly after trying to be in bands and still not trying to be a singer cause I couldn’t feel comfortable. I could sing. I sang like a bird ever since the age of 3 and sort of knew I could sing but just couldn’t pull the trigger. I played in bands with horrible, horrible singers. I mean, bad. But they were comfortable doing it where I wasn’t. That all changed when I would drink or use because I became a different person, my inhibitions lowered, I could hear that that guy was a horrible fucking singer and I had the confidence to try and one up him. The same thing that ruined my life, tried to kill me is the same thing that gave me the dumb confidence and kick in the ass to get up there and actually sing. Alcohol and drugs are what gave me the ability to get over the nervousness and started me in the music business but the trouble was that monster got really strong and Donnie got weaker and weaker. I called the monster Delbert. If I could get my hands around that assholes neck I would strangle him to death but I think Lisa does a pretty good job of keeping Delbert at bay.
Q: It had to feel pretty good at some points though…even sober. You at one point had Howard Stern hailing you as the best band and best singer ever, writing your liner notes. He won’t write anything for anyone. You had Rolling Stone assigning you as the best new band, Paul Stanley saying you were the greatest thing going and the first thing in his car stereo….There were a lot of people lined up waiting to kiss your ass correct?
A: Yeah. I’ve had time to think about it. What happened……was…..from the beginning of our climb everything was wrong. Chip and I as a team were right but nothing, NOTHING else made sense. Vikki Foxx as a drummer did not make sense, Derek Frigo as good as he was, did not make sense, the production, the management, the image…… did not make sense. We were SO broke and so desperate and came from SUCH nothing that we latched on to the first person came along that had ANY money could tell us we were great or put us in limos or clothes, or apartments or recording studios or whatever. His name was Ron Fajerstein and we did whatever he wanted, kissed his ass, made him happy and changed and suffered much as a result of that. We should have sucked it up and stuck to our guns and made it on our own as a result of our own doing. To me, the “1985” record is so much closer to the mark of what we were as a band and had we stayed on that path and stuck to our guns maybe it could have all went down better. In 1985 we hadn’t gotten sucked into the “what’s hot for today”, “hair metal” thing yet….we were true power pop and had we stayed on that path I think we would have had more longevity, a more stable career than the whole path we later got started on. We got signed at the worst possible time in the whole metal frenzy. With a major label there’s a whole marketing angle that you could never imagine and they’re not at all into music or trained in that but what they do know is how to sell something. So they’re looking at us and I think for the first time in a long time they had no idea where to go with us or how to “package” us. We had four completely different personalities….we had an Eddie Van Halen virtuoso guitarist that was so into that and so much more musically talented than even he could understand and then this flashy Rikki Rockett/Tommy Lee type drummer but paired with a Tom Petersson style bassist and a John Lennon styled singer……We really never even got a chance to understand each other’s true influences before we started recording and the label started working. Pretty important bonding stuff for a band you know?? There was really no cohesion at all and as the main songwriter it was seriously depressing. I would come up with the main portion of a song structure and by the time Vik and Derek were done putting their stamp on it it was virtually unrecognizable from where I started. It got seriously depressing and if you have ever heard the orignal demos of all those albums you know what I mean. There was very little communication and we were never on the same page and things would end up sounding so much different than what they started out as. I would write something and get all excited about it then have to stop myself and say well…by the time the production is all through it will have 20 seconds of nonsense guitar jabberwocky and all these crazy vocal and drum effects on it and sound nothing at all like what it began as. There is a cookie cutter type, production mentality that existed at that time that had a tendency to really sabotage a lot of bands songs, not just ours.
Q: It was some time ago and there were substances involved but what do you remember about making the first, self-titled album and some of the singles like “New Thing” and “Fly High”?
A: Ahhh….yes. First of all…there was an incredible amount of cocaine involved. Secondly, I personally remember being bullied and told what to do by Ron and those guys and having basically no control whatsoever over the final product, over my songs, the production, the packaging, all of it. All of this bullying coming from someone who was as qualified to produce our band as my dog was. That guy had no business telling anyone what to do and he didn’t even let me play one note of rhythm guitar or anything on that album even though I’m credited for it….and those were songs that I wrote guitar riffs for!!!
Q: Man, that sucks to hear. To so many of us, that will always stand as one of those classic “summer” albums and will always be a major part of your legacy. To hear you have such shitty memories of it is sort of a bummer you know?
A: I have a bad habit of telling the truth which tends to result in that. I remember going up to New York to work on some production before we were even halfway through with it…they wanted some singles for radio before we even finished the album so we went up there to work on “New Thing” and “She Wants More” and something else I think and Bob Clearmountain and Derek Shulman the president of the label were there in New York listening to the mix of what Ron had done and were just totally floored by what they heard or more like what they didn’t hear. These guys are really cool and basically geniuses and they were asking Chip and I “Where’s the choppy, percussive guitar stuff?” and “Where’s the youthful exuberance and rawness and energy?” …..basically asking what happened to the band they signed up for. We just looked at them and said, “Well, that’s all gone. This is Ron’s show” and they knew they had to do something because they were like “What the FUCK is this crap??”. Mind you, this was after spending god knows how much time doing take after take of my guitar that never wound up on the album and all kinds of vocal tracks that might have been technically perfect but lacked any sense of dynamics or vibe whatsoever. Lots of wasted work on songs that I loved. And wasted guitar work as well, Derek was very talented but about as un-Beatlesque as you could possibly imagine. Derek was a very precise, technical player that really came from a totally different school of music. God rest his soul. He was clinical and also at that time like many of us was SOOOOO messed up on substances and so young and so open to outside influence. Derek was so god-given talented that he was off and running and had recorded his first album at the age of FIFTEEN. An honest to god, full on prodigy with recording experience in high school. And everyone….everyone praised him, everyone loved his playing and told him so and everyone hung on every note his talented hands played. The guy could play things he couldn’t begin to understand and could do it with no work, no effort, no thought. It would simply erupt from his fingers and come out of him and people would be in awe and totally kiss his ass. You take that and add tremendous amounts of drugs and alcohol and you create a total nightmare to work with when everyone around you idolizes you. Derek was one of these guys who would turn into an alter ego when he was drunk or high just like me and become this outgoing, crazy jagoff. When in reality, sober, he was the sweetest, most soft spoken, humble, INSECURE quiet guy you could ever meet. So we wind up with this mix, all of this production and endless guitar noodling courtesy of Ron Fajerstein who eliminated everyone else’s personality on that album as much as he could. There’s nothing in the industry worse than a guy with lots of money that thinks he knows EVERYTHING but in reality doesn’t know ANYTHING. On top of that he had all kinds of “friends” telling him what to do that were even worse than him and knew even less. At the end of the day Ron did have something of a clue but by that time he got way too over with the friends pulling him in all these directions and into all the drugs and vanity and self-absorbed bullshit that comes with trying to be a player it just ate him alive. That was our manager/ first album “producer” Ron Fajerstein.
Q: And then…..?
A: Well, then we knew it was the beginning of the end or we should have. It was at least the beginning of something different. We fired him as management and we knew he had, deep, deep, deep pockets and was a vengeful mother. As soon as we got a clue and an earful from others and got rid of him we were waiting for the backlash because we knew that his specialty was taking people to court and winning and we knew we’d be on the short end of any lawsuit action that would take place.
Q: What do you remember about that photo? The inside liner photo of the debut is a story unto itself because you guys hit big on MTV with this over the top dayglo glam image and then you buy the record and you basically look like four schmos off the streets of Chicago. There was a HUGE difference in image and appearance and the album came on the heels of the videos so it was pretty startling.
A: The photo was what we looked like John. That was how we carried ourselves on a normal basis and that was our promo shot for the album. That was the direction we thought was a smart move and the way that we presented ourselves on a normal basis. That was the path that we were on and the image that we had before we went to do the videos. After we went to do the video everything became about L.A. And that Poison image and all that sunset strip shit and making poor decisions and jumping on bandwagons and whatever that followed was a result of that. When you come from goddamn Blue Island, Illinois and go to L.A…….it’s a culture shock and then you add all the booze and drugs and bad decisions and next thing you know you look at yourself and you look like a girl. We had never been to that place and I had never even thought of experimenting with that androgynous look, not in Blue Island. You would get your ass kicked you know? Hell, at that point I don’t even think I had met a homosexual person. So, we get out to L.A. And we’re sitting in the makeup chair and the video guys hired Paul Starr who did makeup for Culture Club and Boy George and I’m looking at myself going “Holy Shit….I’m the hottest chick in the world…(laughs)” That’s one thing you could say about us in Enuff Z’Nuff out of all the glam bands we were best lookin ones with all that makeup on (laughs).
Q: The Winger guys were recently on That Metal Show talking about how they wanted to choke “Beavis and Butthead” for ripping on them and you guys have to remember the legendary “Beavis and Butthead” spot where they’re watching “Fly High Michelle”? Did you similarly want to choke them?
A: Hell, no!! I remember watching that and being proud of myself. One of them looked at me and said “That singer chick is hot, she’s giving me a woody”. I was laughing….I never thought of myself as good looking and never had any ego as far as that went. I thought I was the ugliest guy on earth so I took it as a compliment….Plus, they helped us sell a lot of records. I think the Winger guys should be more mad at Metallica. Having the biggest, baddest band of the time throwing darts at you in one of their biggest videos was what hurt them not so much Beavis and Butthead.
Q: You guys have a lot of fans in the Chicago area obviously but being from out of town the scene itself always seemed like something of a non scene. A lot of people acting too cool for school. Was it like that for you guys coming up?
A: A lot of the Chicago scene musicians are dicks. It’s a known fact. There was not a lot of camaraderie and support of other bands just a lot of jealousy. They especially hated us because Ron had set us up riding in limos and all this shit and bought us clothes and crash pads and stuff so we had all kinds of nice shit and nice chicks go along with that so we fed right into it and started acting as such. We probably brought a lot of it on by being total assholes and rubbing it in at some point because of the way they all treated us prior to that which is how it goes. When you come from one extreme of being totally destitute to having someone set you up with all this fancy shit you just turn into a total jagoff to be honest. We didn’t know how to act like we’d been there before and be decent (laughs). We still deal with it all the time someone will meet you and its like “Oh you write great songs…you’re a great singer and all this” and then you hear about them talking shit about you. I guess it’s just a competition thing in town and people in Chicago or whatever would rather see you stumble than soar.
Q: Was there a reason that historically Chip handled so much of the spotlight over the years? This was in an era where bass players were notoriously absent from most publicity and videos and interviews and that type of thing. Aside from being a songwriter was there some ambivalence on your part as far as wanting to deal with a lot of the promotional work for the band?
A: Yes….Chip was and still is Ambassador Chip for many reasons. He is a walking billboard. He is comfortable and has a desire to do a lot of that. I was less comfortable with all that. I just wanted to make music and get high. I was escaping and in that era couldn’t be counted on to do the kind of interview you’d want to do. I couldn’t be bothered. I’m being honest. Also, I was too fucked up and would have blown the whistle and told the truth about stuff that I wasn’t supposed to talk about. I have a bad habit of telling it like it is and being a loose cannon as far as that goes so there was probably some worry about what I might say (laughs). I was quite often not a very happy guy and I would talk about what bothered me. When you’re on a major label there are entire floors of buildings dedicated to building this image and creating this persona in the press and the last, the LAST fucking thing any of them want is some asshole telling the truth. Chip was great at handling that stuff and my reputation sort of suffered as a result of not doing very much of that. I began to notice that as far as the press was concerned, Chip wrote, produced and created everything and I was just the problematic singer that would eventually be replaced.
Q: So wherein lies the truth? What was the true extent of your partnership?
A: We both served our purposes. Chip kept it alive, kept me going, made it happen and pushed me to do what I do better and better. If left to my own devices I would have just gotten fucked up and written songs, which is what I did. Chip pushed me by basically always giving me a reason to wake up and do something the next day. There was always one more day to stay alive because big brother had something going on for us to do. The thing is…..Chip should totally take credit for that. He did keep me on track and keep me going and the band going, god bless him. The trouble is he never, seldom EVER takes credit for that and instead takes credit for all these other creative things that he didn’t actually do, that’s what bothers me about him. He takes all the credit for the one thing I actually did do instead of all the things he should totally take credit for doing. To take all the credit for the creative side just makes him look like a fucking asshole and a bullshit artist. He’s responsible for SOOOO much and has done so much for the band, it’s been his life but that’s not the stuff he takes credit for, he instead takes credit for the one thing I could be counted on for and says he wrote everything. If that were the case than where are all the songs from the seven year period that I was not in Enuff Z’Nuff. Like I said, Johnny is perfectly capable of working with Chip. What came of it? I didn’t see one new song or album and neither did anyone else. They put out some old demos of stuff that was unfinished that I had worked on but wasn’t ready and didn’t want out. If Chip wrote everything surely he could have come up with something more than just unwanted demos of Donnie right? It’s like the whole thing with the Strength album (the second and in some people’s opinion BEST EZN record). So many people go on about what a production that album is and how great Chip is or whatever for that album when in reality I think what they’re all going apeshit for are the things Johnny Frigo brought to us on that album…i mean, we had a 90 year old man in there working his ass off charting and recording cello and viola and all this shit on that album. Yeah, Chip and I wrote some great stuff but I think what really trips people out on that album are a lot of the things Derek’s dad brought to us. He was an incredibly talented classical musician and had a great ear you know?
Q: The band recorded so many albums over the years are there any in particular that you think have been overlooked or not appreciated as much as they should have or as much as you appreciate them?
A: I think all of it was kind of overlooked by the general public but I think the people that like what we do or what I do are so great. They know all the stuff we do and seem to relate to so much of it. No matter how much promotion or lack of there seems to be a genuine appreciation on the part of the folks that like us and follow it and it’s amazing. They really know all of the material and that is so amazing….so we’re blessed. I don’t think of myself as anything more than I am which is a bum that walked into something. I just walked into a store to buy a pack of cigarettes and a Gatorade in fact (laughs).
Q: So it’s your opinion that the songs are the stars and you’re just the conduit they come through?
A: That is EXACTLY how I feel. You hit the nail right on the head. I don’t feel like I have even been there physically writing some of the best songs I have written. They just sort of spill out and I am what they spill out of. The songs to me are the most important thing. I just feel like I am a receiver and I hear it and then just sort of translate or transmit it.
Q: I liked seeing you in that Cheap Trick shirt in your recent live show….were they also a big influence on you?
A: Yeah…and we were at one point real tight with all those guys. They stopped coming around once we stopped being the flavor of the month but at one point we hung out quite a bit and worked together. The only one I was ever really tight with was Robin, Rick was gone the second the trappings were gone. Which is sort of ironic since he’s always had money. Hell, Rick had money before Cheap Trick made a dime and he still does. It sort of bothers me that he also is one that takes credit for EVERYTHING. Lots of people have been under the assumption that “Oh, Robin’s just the singer” well, let’s hear all those songs as hits with Rick singing them. Robin is an amazing singer and an even more amazing person. All those songs over all these years are every bit a band effort from Rick, Robin, Bun and Tom…Comon, we all loved Cheap Trick!