BY PHIL HOOD
There’s an old joke that goes like this: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. I spent a lot of the last month listening to podcasts, many of them on the topic of “how to make it as a drummer in music business.” A lot of advice I heard boiled down to four or five things: learn to play well in many styles; network; take every gig; listen; and be the bandmate that other people want to live with on a tour bus. They could have saved their breath and just looked at the career of Sum 41 drummer Frank Zummo. He checks every box on that list more than a few times. And now the 2017 Alternative Press drummer of the year is taking that knowledge — and a load of chops — on the road with the Van’s Warped Tour “Loyal To The Craft Tour.”
Prior to Sum 41 Frank was most well-known for being one of the founders of Street Drum Corps, along with Bobby and Adam Alt. Drawing on their previous experiences with all-percussion groups, and inspired by shows such as Stomp, they created a cultural phenomenon. The group frequently performed on homemade instruments and “found percussion,” becoming a Warped Tour hit and subsequently headlining musical tours, performing art centers festivals, theme parks, sporting events, fairs, cruise ships, military bases, and really just about anywhere one can perform.
Along the way, Zummo continued to play drum set in other bands, including stints with Dead by Sunrise, and Krewella. He subbed for Tommy Lee on Motley Crue dates as well. Then in 2013 SDC snagged a Las Vegas residency and invited Sum 41’s singer Deryck Whibley to be a special guest performer on opening night. Something clicked, and a musical friendship was born. I’ll let Zummo pick up the story from there.
Zummo: Shortly after that night Steve [Jocz] left the band and I called Deryck to ask about the opportunity to play with the band. He invited me over and then had the guys fly to L.A. and we spent two weeks together, jamming and hanging. After that they offered me the gig.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to become part of the group?
I had to learn the entire catalogue. That was the biggest challenge. Then I had to learn how they interpreted the songs live and all the transitions [in the show]. The main adjustment in any new project is listening and learning how to vibe, lock, and support the other musicians. The hardest part was learning our singer’s body language and needs, as he is our musical director onstage. We 100 percent play live with no backing tracks. Deryck really vibes off the crowd, and starts, stops, and breakdowns change nightly. It’s all about understanding and knowing how to navigate those moments.
When did you really feel completely at ease with the band?
Literally when we all played the first song together! It felt right and I felt at home and in the band that I always wanted to be in.
There’s a lot of different roles a “second” drummer in a band can play, from hired hand to full member. How are you with the experience now?
From the start I was welcomed into the family as a member and instantly started writing and recording our 13 Voices record. That feeling has grown deeper now three years into it.
Okay, let’s say you’re a young drummer. You want to audition for a band that is are not exactly your style, but it’s not too far a reach. How do you advise them to go for it?
If you want to work as a full time musician, you should put 100 percent into being well-rounded in all musical styles. This way you can always work and be able to audition for any gig. That’s the reason I studied straight out of high school at the Drummers Collective. I studied stuff so far removed from my upbringing (Afro-Cuban to Broadway). Then I took gigs from cruise ships to theme parks. That whole experience was my “college” so I could always work in the music industry.
Kickin’ It At The Loyal To The Craft Tour
Frank approaches his clinic tour with the same intensity and original sensibility that has informed his career, and he promises to take the audience on a journey with the Loyal To The Craft tour, which kicks off July 30.
What makes this different from the usual clinic?
My whole goal is to do the complete opposite of traditional clinics. We make it an intimate concert experience, Q&A, fun contests, and meet-and-greet. I always have an amazing local and upcoming drummer open the show and we play together for the finale.
What do audiences want to hear from you at these events?
They love to hear Sum 41 songs in this intimate setting and get to have one-on-one time to chat.
What is it you have learned by teaching in clinics?
It’s really been the most inspiring opportunity for me to perform for students and seeing their parents there supporting them. It takes me back to my dad taking me to clinics when I was a kid.
The Loyal To The Craft Tour kicks off at SJC Drums in Southbridge, Massachusetts and continues as follows:
July 31 • Brooklyn, New York • House of Vans
August 1 • Middletown, New York • Alto Music
August 2 • Randolph New Jersey • School of Rock
August 4 • Cleveland, Ohio • Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
August 6 • Chicago Illinois • House of Vans
August 10 • Baltimore, Maryland • EMO Nite
In addition to Zummo and opening acts the event includes a pop up shop with exclusive merchandise, a chance to learn about drums from SJC Drums founder Mike Ciprari, and a contest to win a Van’s snare drum. Zummo is also supported by Zildjian, Ahead, Roland, and Remo.
Win A Headhunter’s Creation Courtesy of Behind The Scenes
Dave Rundle of Canada’s Headhunters Drumsticks is never content with the way things are. And, as a result he has created radical designs for innovative sticks, brushes, and bundles that reshape the sound possibilities for drummers. For the next month I’m giving away a different Headhunters stick each week. Prizes include:
- The Dreamcatchers Wired, which add weight to brushes making them backbeat-ready
- The Crossovers II Bamboo, a stick combined with rods to deliver fast response and real rimshots
- Fat Bastards, which are cross brushes with rods to deliver fat sounds perfect for train beats and slow ballads
- Standard 5A with the Black X handle
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