GRS Zummo | Frank Zummo
My guest today is a friend of mine, Mr. Frank Zummo. Frank, can tirelessly beat the drums while his Sum 41 lead singer orchestrates the tune for the mosh pit. He goes hard and takes a thoughtful approach to everything in his life. Frank discusses his quest to make a living in the music business, dealing with sadness during Covid, and the highs and lows of Family.

Married with two young sons this rock star is using a healthy lifestyle to support him “doing it all”. He lets his actions do all the talking, and like his blistering drumming, you feel it.

Listen to the episode here:

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Key Topics:

Frank Zummo – Healthy Rockstar Life

My guest is Mr. Frank Zummo. Frank is an incredibly accomplished musician and drummer for bands like Sum 41. He’s even stepped in for Tommy Lee at Mötley Crüe. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “This is a rock and roll guy.” He definitely is. This guy is a beast on the drums. Regardless of your gender, your age, and what kind of music you like, Frank is a person that is so inspiring because of his dedication to his health, his pursuit to his passions, his deep commitment to his family, and his incredible values so I hope that you enjoy the conversation.

How many years has it been now? I remember making the music on tour. I just don’t remember how many years ago that was. Maybe more than two.

It came out in January 2020 so you made the music in November of ’19 on tour. Frank Zummo, welcome back to my house.

It’s good to be here. I haven’t been here since my drums were in the bottom of your pool.

I know your first solo album. For people reading, we know each other. Do you want to talk about how we met? It’s probably not a likely pair.

On your former podcast. Probably more than six years ago.

Wasn’t that long ago already?

It’s on The Truth Barrel. It’s right when I’d gotten into Sum 41 and my publicist was like, “Neil…” who had done his wild podcast back in the day.

That one on SiriusXM. Neil Strauss for people reading is an author and has done a lot of interesting work. How was that?

It was wild. There were shots, people from the exotic world of pornography, and whatnot. It was a wild rock and roll, as you would expect from the guy who wrote a Mötley Crüe book. When I got asked to come on his new show they said, “You’re going to be in a barrel in your boardshorts. Are you cool with that?” I was like, “Sure.”

I thought it was going to be another Neil crazy one but they’re like, “No. This is with Gabby Reece. This is a serious real talk thing.” I came in and met you for the first time in your sauna. I’ve said this so many times in interviews. It definitely was one of the moments that changed my life in so many ways. Connecting with you, and speaking to an athlete for the first time, and realizing that I am an athlete. I never put that together and you brought me in here and you’re like, “These are the supplements, and this is the stuff you should be doing.”

I went on a nine-week tour and it mentally changed my outlook, how I warmed up, warmed down what I put in my body and it came at an important time because I was going into the longest tour I’d ever done, the hardest drumming I had ever done. I needed that mentally, as well. Throughout the years, anytime I’ve ever had a question about any of those topics, I would always consult with you and you’ve always been there for me in that way. It turned into a great friendship. It’s family. The things that we’ve done and inspiration and all that so I always say it so thank you. Thank you, Neil Strauss, for putting this together and changing my life in many great ways.

[bctt tweet=”This is not what drinking is supposed to be for. Drinking is supposed to be for celebration or celebratory things. I’m noticing a pattern here and I don’t like it so I’m going to check it out.”]

Let’s talk about that because when someone first meets you, they go, “It’s going to be a drummer. He’s in a band. He’s with Sum 41.” When Tommy Lee gets hurt, they call you to step in. You think, “This guy will probably be a little bit wild.” When I first met you, I didn’t get that hit at all. I’ve seen this in other performers or athletes who we say get it all out on the field or the stage. We’re going to try to get clips of you drumming that we can also play during this or and to promote it. The fact that for two hours at a time, you encourage people to watch what you do because it’s drumming. It is athletics. It’s for a couple of hours, night after night and week after week. You felt already you were living a pretty healthy lifestyle. Was that not an accurate assessment?

Definitely. My mother was strict about our diet. There was no junk in the house. She always cooked. It was well planned. It wasn’t anything negative or bad in that department so I’ve always tried but what you think you know and you do learn it was like, “Throw that all out.” I have to go on a whole new journey now because I was starting to have some issues with the repetitive motion with the body, aches, and pains. I was like, “Things need to change here,” but I didn’t know what to do.

You are right, though. I definitely let it all out on stage and that’s why I’m so much more mellow in regular day life because I do get that aggression out and all that. It’s been a hard thing not getting to do that so I had to come up with other ways so I wouldn’t lose my mind because I had to release that energy and creative stuff somehow.

Let’s set the table a little bit. You’re married, and you have two children. You have two sons. You’re not only not getting to tour and get it out, so to speak, you’re also an entrepreneur. It’s the stress of work, not working and you’re at home with two kids who are both high energy. Where did you meet your wife?

I met her in Hollywood at a random club but we figured out that night that we had met each other through life because her band had played with other bands of mine in the same shows and stuff and we’ve passed and never got to meet. I knew her band members and we finally put it together that one night and that was the beginning. We’ve been together for more than eleven years.

I always love to see certain guys that you think, “They live a rock star lifestyle. They’re all over the place.” She’s incredibly smart, organized and there’s a serious-mindedness to her.

She’s toured and sang in a band for years so she understands me. She knew what she was signing up for because that’s been a hard thing with relationships where they don’t understand. She knew what she was getting into. She knew that if we had children, I was going to be on the road for months at a time. She knew what she signed up for and that’s a big reason why it’s been so successful in our marriage.

She is so supportive, which is great. There’s never a, “Why are you leaving?” “Why this?” She knows that when I go home, the rule is I have to fully be there. I have to fully disconnect and be there for my children because they need that. Especially over COVID. It’s the longest time that I’ve ever spent with my wife in our entire relationship. It’s great and we’re still here and I said that.

We were talking when you flew in and that you guys moved. As people know, moving is stressful and you were joking about the next time you’ll move. They move the stuff but as far as packing and unpacking you guys handled all of that with little children and things like that. I met your mom at a concert and you have a strong mom. She’s compact in size and stature but she has power about her. What is it? How does it work for you? When you say, “I go home and I have to totally unplug them and be there,” do you have a framework around that? What does that look like?

[bctt tweet=”When people are clicking through, I want them to be inspired”.]

The biggest challenge was that normally I’ll come home for three days a week. It’s fun guy dad. He’s home and the kids are excited. We’ll go have what we call Dude Days. I’ll take the boys and do whatever they want to do. Go to lunch, go to the park, or whatever it may be. I’ll bring them here to swim whatever it may be. We have Dude Days. I come home for the holidays and it’s a fun time or whatever it may be. Now, I’m a big planner. I wrapped up training with you guys in Hawaii.

You came to the XPT Experience.

Talk about the perfect time to end before this.

It was March right before COVID.

We’re starting to hear whispers.

I got sick on the way home. This is my karma coming out. When we flew home Laird went to Alaska to snowboard and I came back because my girls are here. We had this XPT event so there’s probably 25 different people from all around, there was a guy from Singapore. When I was sitting on the plane, you hadn’t heard much about COVID, this couple came on the plane, and they were wearing masks. In my inside voice, I was like, “Look at these people with their masks on. We’re on a germ tube. What’s that going to do?” I’m not kidding.

I was sitting on the flight three hours in. Because I’m pretty healthy, I could feel the back of my throat. I was like, “Something’s trying to make me sick.” Normally what I do, if there’s something like that, you’re like, “Keep a positive attitude. You’ll get a proper night’s sleep, your body will deal with it, and you’ll be fine.” I was like, “This thing’s going to get me.” I got KO’ed for 5 or 6 days. I was like, so sick. Laird got it on the way to Alaska so he was trying to heliboard in Alaska with a wicked cold. Whether it was COVID or not, we still don’t know but it’s the timing. You come back from there, and what’s supposed to be on your schedule for 2020?

I came back from that and I was a year into a world tour. We had already circled the world. We did a Japan and Europe tour. We came home from that and met you guys in Hawaii. I came back from that ready to take on the world. I was so fired up. I learned how to breathe for the first time in more than 40 years, which is insane.

How do you think you were breathing? It’s astounding to me because I learned I went to see you play and it is astounding the pace that you keep for the amount of time, so why don’t we assume that you have figured out how to breathe correctly. It’s like a great singer. They know how to bring their breath in and all these things. What do you think you were doing that might be a pretty common mistake that you then switched? I’d love to know how you felt it made a difference.

On the fast clenching parts, I probably was holding my breath, which when you’re lifting weights, you’re not supposed to do that in those moments. If you breathe, it’s easier. I never thought about it. You do it and you don’t think about it because no one ever educated me on how to do it. If that’s the first thing we did, we get there and we lay down on the beach. We went through a whole Laird guided 40 minutes to 1-hour thing and I was like, “This is incredible. I’ve never thought about it.” After doing that for a couple of days, it was so different.

GRS Zummo | Frank Zummo

Frank Zummo – I wanted to not have any boundaries because I’m a drummer and I’m going to collaborate with all these different people.

Laird gave me a bunch of advice. He’s like, “When you’re drumming, you should try to do this and try to do that.” I brought that into drumming, which I’d never thought about, I did it and it’s making it easier. When we were doing an arena tour in Canada, I hit you up and I’m like, “We’re in these hockey arenas, and I have a bike every day. What should I do?” You’re like, “Do this bike for twenty minutes and nose breathe. It’ll oxygenate you for your show and make things easier,” and it did. It’s taking all those things and learning.

The biggest part of it was now, I can’t do it before bed. If I don’t do it, I can’t sleep or settle down so I do it now. I have either you, Laird, Mark, PJ talking me through, and it puts me to bed every time I don’t even make it through it anymore. I’ve started doing it on the plane. I do it in the morning and after working out. With the boys when they’re all hyped up, and they can’t we can’t get them to settle down for better put on and they’re out.

Let’s talk about it. For people reading, you can use the breath, which the thing I love about this is it’s you can do it anywhere and it’s free. It’s your own breath so you would up-regulate or go into your sympathetic system, which would mean, “You’re ready. You’ve got a big presentation. You want to get ramped up, you want to get heated up, warm-up, and things like that.” That’s one type of pattern. I want to talk to you about downregulating because after the show it’s late. Did you use cocktails to wind down? How did that work?

Definitely. It was always a drink before the show to take the edge off.

Was it because you’re going on stage?

Exactly and there would be a drink during the show.

How do you have a drink during a show?

I would never finish one because I could barely have time to take a zip.

What type of drink?

It was either Avoca lemonade.

I know. Jägermeister.

That was shots. That wouldn’t be during the show.

That’s too drastic.

Talk about adulting life. Now the Jäger machine went in the garbage. Now, I have a juicer and a Laird coffee machine.

Let’s say you’d have a cocktail. Was it a rock and roll lifestyle custom? Was it like, “I knew guys that did it. Guys before me do that and that’s what you do.”

It was like the tribe. We all have a drink as we’re getting ready as part of the ritual. You have one on stage and after. It’s a glass of wine to settle down. What started happening was, I’ve never had an addiction problem only to work and the good stuff. I never took it to that level. Yes, I had fun, especially when I was on the road with Tommy Lee. We had a blast and I definitely did that but I was also a lot younger.

The recovery and everything are different now the older you get. I started realizing because it’s in the dressing room it’s mental. I don’t want this but I have to do this because it’s here and it’s doing it every day. I said, “This is not what drinking is supposed to be for. Drinking is supposed to be for celebration or celebratory things. I’m noticing a pattern here and I don’t like it so I’m going to check it out. Also, I can have anything toxic, that’s going to mess with me doing my job because this band and this playing are hard enough as it is. I don’t need anything else that’s negative.” I cut it out of touring.

Did the guys give you a hard time? It sounds like you have a different personality or relationship with alcohol. Laird was fighting the dragon if you will. He got to a place where he was like, “I’m not being honest with myself. It’s probably going to destroy my life. A lot of his friends used to say to him, “You are so much more fun when you drink.” There was all that around it.

He substituted a Pellegrino bottle for his Pinot Noir bottle. Culturally, where guys are like, “What’s wrong? How come you don’t drink?” Was there any of that they had to deal with? That’s another thing for people when they’re trying to say move towards something that’s maybe a little more supportive of their healthier lifestyle. Sometimes other people can give you a hard time about it.

[bctt tweet=”I wanted to do something that moves me that the audience feels about less is more.”]

My singer has to be sober because he almost died from it. That was his reality check. There was no rehab. He was like, “I want to live and do music.” He’s sober and the other guys in the band cocktailed a little bit. This band, back in the day, was like Mötley Crüe. Debauchery and destruction. It was wild but no, it’s not like that. Even my friend’s like that. Tommy Lee’s sober now, and he’s as fun. Yes, there might be some friends that were your party friends that aren’t anymore, but I don’t even have time for that.

I don’t miss it on tour and it’s funny because I remember my first show without having that drink to take the edge off. It was amazing. I’m like, “This adrenaline. I’m so fired up. I love this. I don’t want to take the edge off. This is so good. I love being antsy and I’m pacing in circles before we go on.” I’m like, “Why was I getting rid of that? This is awesome.” It was the opposite effect to that degree and now after a show to wind down, I’m done. I’ll ice my arms, make a smoothie on the bus, lay on my bunk, read and breathe to go to sleep. I’m out. I sleep. I don’t even dream. I’m in a coma because everything is left on that stage for sure.

Do you take any supplements, maybe ramp certain supplements up when you’re on the road to support because it is a body beating?

Absolutely. I start and end the day with all this stuff. I’m doing magnesium supplements for bedtime. For the first time, I took one that Laird came out with. My wife and I tried that. In the morning with my vitamins, I’ll do the Activate from Laird.

What about inflammation, are you taking anything?

A lot of turmeric and beet supplements. I have an amazing doctor. He went through blood work. It’s funny because of all the tattoos I have, I’m the biggest wuss with getting blood taken. I’m so bad at it literally, but I can get tattooed. It makes no sense. He wanted to do extensive bloodwork to test everything and when she put this basket of vials, I almost passed out seeing how much blood had to be done. He’s got me on different stuff now. He noticed different things happening because of my allergies or because of the stress of life that’s been going on.

Selling houses, moving, and COVID.

Not touring, not working. That circles back to what you originally started about planning and all that. After I saw you in Hawaii, I had to go to Vegas for a convention for two days and I was going to hop on an overnight flight to Mexico and be out with some for a long time and I got told to go home. It was like, “The kid’s daycare is closed.” My wife still works. She worked from home and had nothing to do with the pandemic. You’re on full-on daddy day care for two boys, no warning, no planning. I didn’t know what was going on if we were going to go back on the road in a month or if we were not so it was a stressful situation in so many ways. I was like, “I’m going to use this breathwork, and do it with the family.” We did some of those XPT Live things. PJ did fun ones for the kids. All that stuff was helpful and useful. We still use it.

I know how important Laird’s family is to him. When you are in a relationship, it doesn’t mean one or the other. It doesn’t mean with a man or with a woman, it’s a certain type of person. I know that the thing that makes him, him, is this wild freedom person that needs to go if the ocean is calling him or what have you.

Simultaneously also know how dedicated he is to the family but there will be times that if he wasn’t getting enough of the other, even though being at home, there’s love and gratitude like, “The girls are healthy,” and all of this that there’s a pain and suffering that I can’t help him with. I can try to be understanding, but it’s almost something that a person has to go through on their own. Knowing you as I do, where do you go in yourself, what do you say to yourself or how do you work that out when you’re not getting to do that and now you are being Mr. Dad? Even though that’s a supremely important job, it’s also feeding that other side of oneself.

[bctt tweet=”I love drummers that make it a show. They become front men. They not only play and make you feel good but they will make their drum performance a spectacle.”]

People feel like it’s a selfish thing to say or whatever but I don’t. That’s part of being a human being. Some people have it more but what did you do, what did you put in place and what was your internal dialogue about going, “I have to look at this. I’m not going to be doing that for a while.” In some ways, the hardest thing to do, for the time being, is to be a parent. No one gives you a paycheck. Nobody goes, “Great job.” There’s an amount of repetition that’s so intense and I don’t care how disciplined you are. You also go like, “Who am I?” How are you blending that? You got dropped into that pretty hard.

It was the first time in my life, and I don’t want to use the word depression because it was maybe mild but it was the first time I was having negativity. It’s mental health. I was noticing some things that were off and I had to sit there and go, “This is temporary because of what’s happening. Because I’m not getting this energy out. How can I do this?” The band was like, “We’re on hiatus.” The band spread all over Canada and America, “We’re not doing anything. Our singer has his first child.” He was in Baby World and I was like, “Sitting here being negative is not healthy and it’s not going to do anything so I need to turn this around. I need to get that creative side out.”

I had been dabbling with collaborating with other artists to do solo music. I’m going to dive fully and immerse into this because everyone wants to work now. Everyone’s available to work so I’m going to work with every producer, songwriter, singer and come up with a collection of songs. I said to my team, “I have a challenge for us.” Before this pandemic, I had record deals on the table for my solo music and they all went away because labels didn’t know if they were going to make it or not.

I said, “Here’s the challenge. Let’s get a record deal in a pandemic. Let’s make things happen when nothing is happening. I’m going to work as hard as I can on this to give you guys the best songs I possibly can with great artists and people.” It was a challenge and we wound up getting a record deal. I put out an EP and that inspired me to write a record’s worth of material. Now, we’re pushing out a single every month. I wanted to fully control everything that was going on with the art and music videos. All of this happened around the time that I was training with you guys and everything so I was like, “We do pool training. How do we do drums?”

Your whole motto is, “We take what we do on land and do it underwater.” I’m like, “Can we do this?” I called you guys. I’m like, “Can I drown my drums in your pool?” You’re like, “Sure. Come over.” We didn’t rehearse it so we didn’t know. If it didn’t work, I was screwed and I wasn’t having a music video. Ben, my tech threw my drums in the pool. The kick drum floated the wrong way and sank. The other drums wouldn’t sink. I was floating up so we literally had to put your dumbbells in all the drums to wear them down.

When I fully got under there and attached my feet under weights, I was able to play and it sounded cool because it sounded like the drums were being filtered out and you guys have the banking system in the pool so I can hear playback. It was so cool. The crew had never done anything like this before to be in the water. Everyone got sun-tanned. It’s a fun day to do something. It was a challenge for me because I was like, “I’ve never done this. I want to do this. I’m not going to fake it. There’s no way to fake it.” I wanted to make something cinematically beautiful too, instead of another, “Here we are in green screen with a bunch of computer stuff.” That video and the message of my music is where I’m at. Sum 41 is aggressive and political. This. I want it to be completely opposite and reflect feeling good. When people are clicking through, I want them to be inspired.

How about the title of your album?

GRS Zummo | Frank Zummo

Frank Zummo – My biggest passion is going out to inspire the youth.

It’s My War, which to me was what this project is, trying to get this out of my head. When I turned 40, we went to Hawaii and I was at a point in my life where I wanted to do something else and I didn’t know what yet. I went on a run in Ko Olina. It’s beautiful and a song came on as I’m running. I had the whole vision to do this solo project.

DJs are producers that make music and they go out, stand on a DJ booth and play them. I’m like, “Why can’t a drummer do that? I can go in and create.” Instead of me standing in a booth mixing, I’m performing. We live in a world now where that is acceptable. Back in the day, you had the full band and everybody was playing live. You live in a world now where the 21 Pilots is two dudes and they’re selling out arenas. It’s a different way now. I want to continue to push. Yes, Sum 41 is that’s my everything but I also want to keep growing as an artist.

I have such a love for so many musical things. This doesn’t put me in a box. The thing I do love about Sum 41 is, it’s pop, it’s punk, it’s heavy so we’re able to float around which is great but I wanted to not have any boundaries because I’m a drummer and I’m going to collaborate with all these different people. The singer that I collaborated with on a song when he wrote that lyric It’s My War I was like, “That said what I’ve been thinking, internally and all that.”

It’s not that we romanticize other people. Before it used to be TV and movies did it and now it’s real people are doing it but they’re doing it on social media. They’re romanticizing what family or friendships or children or whatever this is instead of us learning all the shades that it is. There’s no richer, deeper experience for me in my personal life than my family but it’s also when I’m constantly having those moments of going, “One, right now, I don’t even know what I’m doing. I am also yearning to express my individual self more while simultaneously wanting to be here.” I don’t say it’s gender but men might even usually have to wrestle that a little more.

For moms, you feel drawn a little easier where men maybe it’s like, “I want to be here. I want to be of service to the family and I want to go. I want to adventure. I want to express, hunt, or whatever the things are.” I was interested if you ever talked about it. Were you able to verbalize it? Did you hold it? It’s so important that we recognize it and put it into something if we’re able to and that takes effort. Sometimes people think, “They have something and they figured it out.” It’s like, “No, it takes effort.” Did you ever talk to anyone? Did you talk to your guy friends? Did you talk to your wife like “This is hard.”

Definitely my wife. We’ve always had honest and open communication. I tell her everything. That’s why I married her. I was like, “This is the first person who I can comfortably tell her everything and she’s not judging me.” We’ve had that relationship and I put it all out on the table. From day one, I was like, “There’s no skeleton. This is what I used to do. This is how it was.” I didn’t want her to hear something or whatever. We had an open and honest relationship.

I would get frustrated and she was like, “What do you need? What do you need to do what you have to do?” We would schedule because my music room/office when I was on the road and she started working from home, I’m like, “I’m on the road. You take it over.” That became her work. When I’m off the road, she needs to work. All of a sudden, I’m putting out a solo record and I have to get ready for streaming performances and practice or do press. We had to schedule on the calendar, “You have to get out of the office so I can do this.”

I’m like, “This is not how creative stuff should be working.” I said, “We need to reevaluate our needs as a family. This home, as amazing as our first starter home has been, isn’t working for you, for me, for the kids.” We started having those conversations and figuring out what would be the best thing for the family. The silver linings in this whole thing, the best part two, say, “If I would have kept go, go go, we would have stayed here.

On the financial side, there are so many things that we are doing that are bettering our lives and for our family. That is the best part. Me, with having two kids that I’ve missed, I missed them walking for the first time I missed a lot. When they’re this young for them to have a father and for me to teach Brixton how to ride a bike, teach them how to swim, to watch them learn how to read, I would have missed all that.

Yes, it sucked to not go do what I’ve done but boohoo. I didn’t get one year of me not touring when I’ve done it my whole life. To have this family time, to reevaluate, to move, to do all this stuff to better our life is so worth it in the end and I wouldn’t trade it for any for, anything at all. The one thing that was heavy, I was like, “We’re adults. We can deal with this. We had our childhood. These kids now got robbed of their graduations, maybe go into their first year of college finally leaving the nest, their prom, sports.”

[bctt tweet=”It’s about the song, what sounds the best, and supporting the band and everybody around because it’s a team.

My biggest passion is going out to inspire the youth. I’ve done these workshops. I’ve partnered with Van Shoes and all these rad companies. When I was a kid, drum clinics were super corny. They were in a VFW hall with no vibe. There was a guy that would go in and play every crazy note that he does talk about drums and bounce. It was cool to see people that you looked up to but it wasn’t this experience. I was like, “Let’s go into skate parks. Let’s go into record shops, coffee shops. Let’s show up to School Rock Schools, which is an incredible music school for kids that when I was coming up didn’t exist. Let’s go out and inspire and motivate kids.” I get to jam with kids.

It’s so incredible because I didn’t have these opportunities coming up and I feel like when I have the spotlight on me, I want to use it for that. Instead of talking about what I feel about this election or COVID. I’d rather use my spotlight for this because I’m passionate about it and rather use it to do this stuff. I wasn’t able to do that during this pandemic. I’d go on a live thing for School of Rock and talk to the kids. I was seeing that the questions were heavy and the tone was different than it was. I was like, “There’s a major thing here with these kids. How could I do this?”

Now that things are opening up, I want to do this again and I want to do a more intimate version, a more workshop where I’m spending more time. It’s for the students. It’s not open to fans like it used to be. I want to do this so I talked to the Laird Superfood team and I said, “I want to do this.” They were like, “This is amazing. We want to back this and present this.” I’m about to go out and do that on the West Coast.

The thing is, and I think about it too, you speak a universal and truthful language. When you hit a drum, it’s straightforward and it’s also tribal and primal. You can go anywhere and you can connect with anyone, especially the people that are interested. It’s an amazing gift that you can share and connect with. You’re setting the tone. You said something earlier about when you went out on stage and didn’t have that first drink before. It reminded me of something that I heard that I thought was applicable. I did a podcast a long time ago now with Kristen Ulmer. She was a downhill skier. She talked about fear.

You said it perfectly, which is using fear for good things. It’s a good thing. For those of us who have children, what she says is, “If you were to take Brixton somewhere and he’d say, ‘Dad, I’m scared. The waterslide is huge or whatever,’ you wouldn’t say to him, ‘Don’t be scared.’ What you would say is, ‘Are you in the mood to be scared?’” What she says is we’re not supposed to feel that we want to be scared all the time but we should never not want to be scared.

With you saying that when you go up on stage, even though it’s your job, you’re technical. I was talking to Rick Rubin. That was interesting. You’re technical. You know what you’re doing but it’s using, “I’m going on stage. There’s a lot of people.” It’s all of that. For people to maybe use that as fuel versus, “Let me numb that down. Let me shove that down. Let me fix that for my kid.” It’s important. I know a couple of different drummers and you get the idea that there are drummers that create a sound for a group but they’re maybe even not great drummers.

They might do something that creates us that fits in with a sound and you have drummers like you who probably can do lots of different types of drumming. How does that occur? How did you get so tuned? Was it when you were 2? You come from a musical family and you were gravitating. By 5, your switch was flipped. Does one pick up the drums? Do you practice? Do you have teachers? How is your experience?

All of that, the best thing was my dad. He was a drummer, but he was mainly self-taught too and he didn’t want to teach me wrong so he gave me a pair of headphones, his record collection, and his drum set and said, “Figure it out.”

What do you mean, figure it out?

[bctt tweet=”The one thing that I’ve always taken on stage is everyone that comes there and pays a ticket, this is their release from life. They’re there to have a good time and to not worry about anything.”]

I was 2 or 3 when I found the drum set right in the house and started playing. I didn’t start formal lessons until I was 6 so maybe between 3 and 6. It was me with headphones, trying to figure it out and learn and having all that time alone. I always tell anybody who wants to learn to play drums, “Go put on YouTube your favorite songs. Self-journey exploration is the best way. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it right or wrong. To have that freedom to figure it out is the best thing ever.” I haven’t taught my kids anything. When they want to play music, I’ll put on whatever their favorite music is and let them go nuts. Now that Brixton is starting to want to learn guitar and drums, I’m going to bring them to School of Rock when I play the one that kicks off the tour.

I’m going to let them go with the group setting with the teachers and see how he does because that’s what my dad did, too. He let me explore. When it was time to learn the rudiments and the technique, I went to a drum teacher, and learned those things. The thing for me is, I wanted to do something that moves me that the audience feels about less is more.

The biggest satisfaction in the world is, and I call it the closest thing to playing god. When you’re up there, and there’s 10 people or 100,000 people, and they’re all moving to the beat. That is the highest of all highs in the world because they’re either dancing, jumping up and down, moshing, or whatever they’re doing. You guys saw. That’s why I put you guys on stage to see from my seat what it feels like.

Even when I’m playing with DJs, that’s a whole other level because it’s dance music. It’s the beat. It all comes from the beat. Even when I do my drum solos and stuff, I want to always make sure that there’s a pulse that the audience could move to. The second you start doing a million notes whenever you lose everybody and they go to the beer garden or they go to the bathroom and they’re out. I want to have that pulse and feeling.

Even the press has asked me, “Your solo music.” You’re not even doing fireworks and I’m like, “It’s songs. I’m playing for the song.” One of the songs that came out, the guy wrote it with he goes, “I hope you don’t mind, when the song’s over there’s an outro. I made this little interlude of music and I want you to go nuts. That’s your moment to shine.” For live, you can have a drum solo, but it’s musical. I don’t have an ego in that way where I say, “It’s my solo music. I have to have a drum solo and show off all my years of whatever.” I’m the opposite of that. It took somebody else.

We went into the studio and they hit record and I said I’m not going to pre-plan anything. I want this to be so raw off the cuff. We recorded it and put it on. I was like, “Don’t fix it. If anything is a little bit ahead of the beat, behind the beat, leave it. Let this be raw. Let this be organic and when I play live, I’ll not recreate this. I’ll do whatever happens.”

It took someone else to get that out of me because I want to play for the song and do what’s right for what the audience is going to react and feel to. The ultimate reward in the world to me is having people move and feel something. It’s so special and magical to have that feeling when you’re playing and seeing that sea of people. I’ll scream, cry, all at the same time on stage which is what happened when I got to be a Mötley Crüe, which was the band that inspired me to do music.

When I got to play those songs in that seat, the emotions were the same thing. Screaming, crying at the same time behind the drum because I was like, “This is insane.” To have my dad who took me to that show being the audience at that show is like, “I hope I have a moment like that with my kid one day. If there’s something I do that inspires them that much, I can go be in that seat as cool as it was for me.” Also, have Tommy tell that story to the audience. It was my dad’s probably proudest moment ever. It’s super special.

GRS Zummo | Frank Zummo

Frank Zummo – Self-journey exploration is the best way. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it right or wrong. To have that freedom to figure it out is the best thing ever.

What’s interesting is you’re a contained person. Every time I see you, you’re leveled, contained and you’re not spilling yourself over everybody. To hear you say that you’re crying and screaming on a stage is an interesting contrast. It’s almost like a different kind of balance. You’ve struck a wide and interesting balance. It’s funny having kids. Coming from sports, secretly, I always was hoping that my kids get into sports. If it was music, that would have been great too. Reece likes to sing but I have Brody who is built for volleyball. Did you see her?


She’s social. Reece plays tennis and she’s more like Laird. She wants to be alone. Brody’s totally social. Do you know what she says to me? It’s awful. I can confess this. She says, “I don’t want to be like you.” It’s an interesting thing. She’s trying to have nine girls sleep over. I’m kidding and they don’t do anything. Brody’s a chicken. Her friends did sneak out one time, but whatever. It was all done by 11:30. Reece woke me up and she goes, “Can you come out here?” The girls are there and Brody’s crying. She’s like, “I won’t do it anymore.” I go, “What time?” “It’s 11:30.” I go, “You got all that done by 11:30?” She wants all these friends to come over. I go, “Great.” This is where I’m at with this kid.

“What are you going to do for me?” This is what I say to her. She’s like, “Is it this volleyball thing again?” She can play tennis too. She’s like, “One time. If I hate it…” I was like, “No.” She’s like, “Two times.” I go. “No. Three.” You need a couple of times to like something. It’s interesting where we say, “We want our kids to be different,” but also, we see things that we know that they might enjoy and also naturally be good at. You want them to try it. It sounds like Brixton already is intrigued by music. Would you be okay with them saying, “I’m into anime,” and whatever.

100%. That’s what my parents sat me down for. I remember this as clear as day. They sat me down and they said, “We will support you. If you want to do music, don’t make us sit you down and have that B plan chat.” I never wanted to have that awkward discussion because I didn’t have a B plan nor wanted one. I said, “I need to make sure I do this so we don’t have this talk.” They supported me. I graduated high school half a year early because I was already touring. My guidance counselor was like, “This is ridiculous. You’re getting home at 4:00 AM coming to school at 7:00. Let me get you out of here half your early. Work your butt off. Get out of here so you’re not doing that.”

When you say, touring what does that look like? Were you in New York?

In the East Coast, there are big cover bands so we would tour up and down the East Coast and do weddings and private events. That was kind of college because you’re playing every style of music and learning so much and it’s endurance. You’re playing three sets a night and lugging your own gear in. Sometimes we’d have to bring our own sound system. I was doing this at 15, 16 but making a living. My friends were working at Burger King making no money and I was gigging on the weekends making great money. It was awesome.

If you look at yourself now at your age, and you think about one of your boys being 15, gigging, so to speak, with the lifestyle part of it. Even if it means schlepping, and staying up late, I’m not implying that everyone was going off the rails, but would that be hard for you as a parent?

Whatever they want to do, as long as they’re 100% passionate because there are so many people who are doing things in life that they have to to survive or whatever and they’re not happy. I don’t care what it is. Because my boys have grown up on the road with me traveling the world and seeing it from my perspective, they’re born into it and they’re attracted. When they’re in the car, they want to hear their 21 Pilots and whatever, loud. They rode with my in-laws the other day, and she yelled at grandpa to put on the 21 Pilots song. This is Riot, my youngest. He’s like, “Louder.”

You did name him Riot.

He lives by that name. He’s a maniac.

You guys think about that, right?

Yeah. I hope he’s a doctor one day. He would be Dr. Riot Zummo if he’s ever a doctor. They definitely have habits.

You guys are musical.

[bctt tweet=”I’ve come from nothing. Everything I have worked for. I work harder now than ever.

The craziest thing is that because they’ve grown up seeing it with me, that’s the reality.

I was going to say that they’re seeing the sexy side of it.

Yes. I took Brixton to see 21 Pilots when he was 3 or 4 in an arena. That was his first time being in the audience. Not side stage with dad watching dad play. This is his favorite band and I walked him in. To see him see that many people, the lights and to see that was the most incredible feeling. It’s the most incredible feeling to see him react in that way. We watched the show and they had a little second stage in the middle of the audience.

I took them down there to be close. We go back to our seats, and I look at him and he’s bawling. I’m like, “What’s the matter? Are you okay?” He goes, “I want to go on stage and play the drums and say hi to them,” because he does at a daddy show. He thinks that’s normal. I’m like, “This is not dad’s show. You can do this. They’re in the middle of a show.” That’s his reality because he does that on dad’s show.

On the show that you guys were at, I had a bar with him because he wanted to come on stage and play. I said, “You can’t play but when I go out at the end of the show, you could toss my sticks to the crowd.” He did that with me because when we played the Warped Tour Street Drum Corps, I let them come up and play with me because that’s my own thing and it was a fun afternoon thing. It’s super cute to see what they think their reality is, which is amazing. I love that. I didn’t have this stuff. It took me a long time to experience the things they’re already experiencing.

The fact that they take such joy and love it. My kids would sleep like babies on the tour bus. They love the tour bus. They love flying. They’re bummed and we have to drive places. They love flying. They’re great travelers. I saw Brixton’s first steps after he’d already been walking with me in Munich in my hotel room. When he was 1. Stuff like that is cool.

After gigging and transitioning into more professional, did you ever have a time when you thought, “This isn’t going to happen. I’m going to quit because I’m not going to do this type of touring.” Were there those moments? I use Laird as an example because you don’t quit something that’s a part of you. It’s tough.

It’s definitely the hardest career. It’s probably similar for you, an athlete as well. It’s not this guaranteed way that the rest of the world works but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To have that instability is all worth it. I looked at my wife and I’m like, “The lights are on and there’s food on the table.” We figured it out. That was always my biggest fear. God forbid, what if my singer got hurt, and we couldn’t tour? This is the worst-case scenario that has happened. We’re still here and we figured it out.

I always would be worried about the future, whatever. Now, I’ve let all that go and I’m like, “Let’s live in the moment because anything can happen and who the hell cares?” I was always like, “My future, the kids’ education, for this and that.” She’s like, “Let’s take it day by day.” It’s been a learning tool and my wife’s been good with our kids.

She goes deep with wanting to homeschool the kids and going down that rabbit hole of finding out how to do it. She goes so hard with the research and I’m like, “I know you have our children’s best interest so I support you and back you. I don’t have the time or the passion to dive in and figure it out, but I know that you are so I support it. 100%.” In many aspects of the family, those are her roles.

Those are her passions.

She supports me and I support her. It’s cool to see where now and life that we’ve built that I never thought I would have.

When you say that, do you mean when you’re a young drummer, you thought that you’d be doing that?

[bctt tweet=”Every day is a different day, different challenges.”]

I thought I was going to be single and never have kids. My best friend who I grew up with who was my best man at my wedding said, “I remember you calling me when I got married saying, ‘Mikey, the picket fence life, family life, and kids aren’t for me. I’m going to tour and be this gypsy. Look at you now.’” I grew up in New York and I’ve lived out here for over seventeen years and my sister who’s a New Yorker, she’s like, “I can’t believe you’re telling me you’re moving to the country and you’re stoked on horses, and land. Who the hell are you?” I’m like, “This is where I’m at now and it feels good to have space and to start this next chapter of our family life and to see how excited everybody is.”

There are two great things that have always resonated with me from all the talks with you over the years. I said to you before I went on when I was about to go on a long tour. I’m like, “I feel crappy to go out on the road right now because it’s 50/50. The house, the cooking and this with the kids.” You’re like, “That’s not doing anything. You should feel grateful for how much your wife has to do on her own. That’s not doing anything.” That flipped my perspective on that. I remember that I had come home for two days and I had to go out on Christmas shows, trying to get the house ready for Christmas and the kids. It was crazy.

I came home and my wife didn’t have time to put the laundry on. There’s laundry all over the couch and the dish rack is full. These are the things that I always do because I’m OCD about that stuff in the home. I sat on the plane, and I was reading your book at the time. I opened up and there was a sentence that you said that I highlighted. It was you talking about the same thing. It was like, “It’s not worth sitting here stressing about the freaking clothes that aren’t folded. Let it go.” I was like, “I needed to hear that.”

When I do come home, who gives a crap? It’s not about that. It’s about the kids, the family. As long as everybody’s there healthy and happy. This stuff that’s where I had to let that OCD battle of controlling the home out. My wife’s been working 9:00 to 5:00 so I drop the kids to daycare, pick them up, do the grocery shopping, cook, make their lunches, and do laundry.

There’s no way. There’s a list of Have to, Should to, and Want to. When you’re living in a real way, you’re going by that list every day. You’re lucky, if you get through Have to not Should, “I should probably fold laundry, but today that might not happen.” Maybe you could share how you created the Street Drum Corps because you have an interesting blend. I have this too of what I call it Not Famous, Famous. I’ve had different types of careers. I’ve been in front, I’ve been behind and I’ve been Laird’s wife.

I’ve been in all those places and in some ways, I’m so glad because even if you’re always in the front, there will come a time unless you’re three people on the planet that you go behind and the next group coming up has no clue nor do they care who you are. It’s so nice when you’re working on your craft when you can get to, “This is what I like to do. This is my job,” not, “Do you know me? Do you recognize me?” You work with people that a lot of times the people on the front, the lead singer usually is more visibly recognizable. Do you think that liberated you in any way?

Street Drum Corp organically happened when I moved to LA. I didn’t move to LA to do that. I moved out here to be in a band in Hollywood. My manager got me a gig and the singer-songwriter. Everything was supposed to happen and it didn’t. I met two brothers the night I moved to LA and they invited me to the percussion show they had. I was doing similar stuff on the East Coast. We got together for fun and made a video. This is before viral stuff so we sent it out, the old school way, with a DVD-ROM or something. We wound up getting hired to do theme parks, tours, and all this stuff because when I’m doing these workshops for kids, and they’re like, “How do I make it? What is your advice?” I’m like, “You have to do something.” Especially here in LA, how do you stick out from the million other artists or drummers or whatever?

With Street Drum Corp we were something that was different for the rock and roll world because we were these punk rock crazy percussion guys who could be PG and do a theme park but also, it could be crazy and go on a rock and roll tour. We were doing all of that started by word of mouth happening. We started getting record deals. Fast forward to Jimmy Lovine giving us a massive record deal and doing the first 360 partnership record label thing, which is now a pretty standard thing. It got to the point where no managers knew what to do with it, because they’re like, “These guys are in a million different markets.”

I was micromanaging everybody so they probably hated working with me. I was like, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to stop performing.” After we did our Vegas residency, we did it all like golfing. I said, “I want to run this and do the business behind it and make this.” Because we are hiring a bunch of drummers and sending them out all over to do all these different gigs, whether it be something corporate or something at a theme park or whatever it may be. I decided to take that role on because that’s my day job.

GRS Zummo | Frank Zummo

Frank Zummo – The ultimate reward in the world to me is having people move and feel something. It’s so special and magical to have that feeling when you’re playing and seeing that sea of people.

You can also help other people in your craft get work.

We don’t take drummers from LA and ship them to Ohio to do a month residency. We hire locals because there are too many drummers. I used to go out and train them. To go see them become these little timid kids, by the end of the week, slamming kegs with baseball bats. It was such a proud moment. It’s such a proud moment to see these kids develop. With a week of working with them, it’s gotten to a point where we’re doing multiple theme parks, fairs, and all that.

That’s what I do on tour during my downtime. I’m sitting there doing all the budgets, logistics, casting, and whatnot. Shows are starting to come back and we had seventeen dates in a row in Florida in a theme park. I haven’t done that in years. We had a cast member of fallout last minute and it’s with one of my partners. They wanted a two drummer show because of COVID or whatever. I was like, “Let’s do it. I’m in. I want to go play drums for seventeen days, playing four sets a day and playing on buckets. I haven’t done this in so long. I need this. I need to play.” It was amazing.

I was so over packing the house up before the move and stressing. I’m like, “I’m going to get out of here.” We’d wake up at 7:00 AM every day and go work out. On the weekends, we would wake up and go to the beach, run and work out on the beach, go swimming in the ocean, go drum all day, and come back and sit by the pool, chill and go to bed early. It was amazing. It also got me to do all the adult things that I couldn’t do at home because of distractions.

As you know when you move you have to change every darn address, set up your electric company and water company. I had a task list. It’s silly stuff too. It’s like, “My car lease is up. I need to get a new car. I’m going to go test drive a bunch of cars and get an electric car now instead of gas.” I do all the stuff that I never would have had time to do being here. It was good and I came back charged up and I had the three days to cram in business here and pack up the rest of the house. The movers were here and my wife and I are still packing boxes as they’re here. We drop the kids at daycare and these guys load the truck. Because I’m up in the canyon 26-foot trucks are the biggest truck you could bring. The guy was like, “We got it. We can do this, to do Tetris on this truck.”

You never realized how much If you have to see in a truck. It’s 5:30 and they’re supposed to be done. I’m supposed to pick up the kids and we drive straight up to Northern California to our new host. The truck comes the next day we dump it and the guy goes, “It’s not going to fit, your outside items and more garage stuff.” I’m looking at my wife going, “These are all this stuff we don’t even need but what are we going to do now? We can’t leave it. We’ve got to take it. What should I do?” The moving company is like, “It’s going to be so expensive to send another truck.” U-Haul in the morning.

We leave the kids at daycare for the night because my house is empty. My wife and I went to Target to buy an air mattress. We go to bed and have the worst sleep ever. I wake up and my wife and I load a U-Haul truck. I put the dog in the U-Haul truck and I drove to Northern California. My wife picks up the boys in the car and drives up. We got there in time to see the movers move the last thing and they helped me unload the U-Haul. The kids come in and it’s chaos. My nephew comes over with his two dogs. The dogs are all male dogs having a pee contest in my new house. I was like, “Holy crap,” but now it’s all good. We got through it.

The beauty is chaos. Within the chaos are all the growth, all the learning, and all the opportunities. If you think about the way you play drums even though there’s such a systematic order, it’s this order and chaos. That’s what life is. Do you ever get competitive? Have you ever seen another drummer be like, “Oh man.”

I’ll definitely see some stuff and be like, “I definitely need to up the game.” It’s more of a friendly way.

I call it appreciation competitiveness because you see something, “I wish I had more of that.”

As you know, watching the Michael Jordan documentary series was the most inspiring thing of all time. It’s seeing someone who’s the absolute greatest who would train no matter what. It inspired me. That’s why I’m going to have a creative space in my house now where I can get back to shedding. I’m going to get on a daily schedule now where it’s working out, drumming, and family. Make it a real schedule of discipline to get back to that because I haven’t done that for so long. It’s tour, record, and home for a break.

[bctt tweet=”Support your kids and be there for them as much as you can and lead by example because that’s what they know.”]

What about jazz? I’ve watched a lot of jazz and that type of drumming seems unique or specific. Does any of that ever interest you?

It does and it’s so foreign.

That’s what I mean. Is it a different language?

Even the way they hold the sticks and the things they use. Funny enough when I was 21, I had a free scholarship to go to a music school. I was enrolled and went the day to go and pick out the classes. I walked into the school and I said, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. I have to back out.” I backed out of a free college run.

I said, “I’m going to go to New York City. I’m going to go to the Drummers Collective, which is a drummer school. I’m going to study with dudes who are out of my league. I’m going to learn Afro-Cuban and Broadway show tunes stuff so I can work around myself so I can always work for the rest of my life as a drummer. Even though I want to do rock music, dance music, at least I can always work.” I did that and I started taking gigs doing all kinds of stuff.

In one of the gigs, I played on a cruise ship in the orchestra in Alaska for Holland America. I was in a tuxedo playing in the showroom and we would have to do these gigs for the highbrow first-class lounge people where we’d have to do jazz stuff. I faked my way through that stuff. That was the hardest gig I ever had.

The musical director was throwing stuff at me because it was a hard gig where every night there’s a different show that you have to learn that day. Whether it’s a pianist that comes in or a magician or a comedian. It was gnarly, and you’re on a boat that’s moving and going through Glacier Bay. It’s insane. I’m a kid, 21 years old. I had no right being there. I’m there with all these older seasoned vet musicians but totally kicked my butt. All these experiences have definitely been incorporated into my life.

In Street Drum Corp when we were creating a lot of music all of a sudden, I started naturally playing these Afro-Cuban rhythms that we’re this punk rock group. I’m like, “This works because I learned it. It’s coming out here naturally,” which is funny because when we train guys, those sections are where the kids have the hardest time because it’s such a different style of drumming. My teacher, if I showed up and didn’t know what he taught me, I’d have to commute to the city, take subways, and whatever. He would send me home. It was pretty gnarly which was way better than going into a traditional college. It was good that I put myself through that and not be a one-trick pony.

Who are some of the drummers that you are excited about their work either, present or even past?

The stuff from you is the most emotional feel-good movie stuff was the James Brown’s records, like funk music, Sly and the Family Stone and all that stuff was huge on me when I was young. Rockside, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy, Metallica, and that kind of stuff. Also Led Zeppelin’s drummer to this day.

What’s his name?

John Bonham. That feeling and how powerful that is.

What does that mean, how powerful?

You listen to the drums and how big and how good it feels. The way he hit the drums, the sound that comes out to this day is still big. It will hold the test of time forever. The guys now that are like Ghrol Taylor Hawkins, Questlove from the Roots. I got to collaborate with Josh from 21 Pilots. I love drummers that make it a show. They become front men. They can not only play and make you feel good, but they will make their drum performance a spectacle.

They’ll put the drums over the crowd or do these different creative things to not be the guy in the back, which is going back to Street Drum Corps. We’re going to be three front men because we’re tired of waiting on our singers to write songs and waiting for the guitar player to tune his guitar, and his pedal board doesn’t work. We’re trying to do something. It was a side project because one of my partners was in a big sign band at that time and they were on hiatus. They were breaking up.

Funny enough, Rick Rubin who I met here with you and a couple of times in life, my partner’s old bands showcase for Rick to produce their record. Rick starts talking to me and my partner about Street Drum Corps, which was awkward because he was there to produce that band. Rick’s like, “What’s this thing that you guys are doing, this percussion thing?” He passed on producing them and we should have picked Rick to produce when we tried to shoot the Street Drum Corps record deal. He should have done our record.

He’s one of the people that I have as producers and people I want to collaborate with within the top three. Pharrell Williams is one and Rick is another because they’re so musical but beat-driven. You listen to the things Rick’s done like 99 Problems by Jay Z beat and that kind of stuff. It’s so incredible. I know he did the new Imagine Dragons record in which the beats and the stuff on it are incredible. It’s sweet.

[bctt tweet=”Being a parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life because it’s a life of worrying. That’s what we do. You worry about your children. You want only the best for them.”]

He’s curious. He’s Interesting. I could see Rick the next day after he’s been with Kanye West and Eminem, let’s say I’m not even making this up. He would be in the sauna and he is talking about some new monitor that can check your heartbeat for the beat in between the beats. He’s interesting and in that it doesn’t occur to him. He’s a student of life and he’ll send you articles about health, politics or things like that. That’s probably what contributes to why he continues besides that he’s talented. This is his success. Is there a drummer that mystifies you? Is it the Led Zeppelin drummer? Is there somebody that you see and you’re almost like, “I don’t even understand how they do that.”

There are the drummers who are from the gospel world that are in a lot of the backing bands for the Justin Biebers, the Rihannas, and stuff. When those guys wile out and let them have their moment, I don’t even know what’s going on. It’s so groove-oriented, though, too but they have these chops and that stuff blows me away. My all-time go-to is Tommy Lee because of the way he impacted me on showmanship and how powerful. John Bonham is his idol.

My dad took me to see Buddy Rich, who was with a famous big band drummer leader. It was his band. Seeing that and seeing this animal behind the drums and conducting the band. He’s yelling at the band members on stage because he’s conducting, as well as drumming. It was pretty powerful to see that stuff so young in life. Probably the coolest compliment was from Tommy. It was the first time he went to the sound booth and watched his band. He goes, “You play and hit the drums exactly like me.” It’s tripping me out because I feel like I’m watching myself. I’m like, “It’s because I learned by playing to your records my entire childhood.”

The band came. There was a little set change part in the middle of the show and they all come in a little quick change area that I was in with Tommy and he’s like, “What the hell are all the guys coming in here for?” They’re like, “Thank you. We are doing our gig. We’re doing us. We’re not worried about carrying you through the show or you’re not throwing us off our game. We feel like we’re playing with Tommy.” That’s the greatest compliment.

That’s something that whenever I got these gigs, that was something that I was like, “I need to come in here with no rehearsal and deliver it the way the artist needs it so they’re not being taken off of their game.” I got a reputation in the industry, which was my thing as a drummer. Zummo’s the guy that can come in and fill in and you don’t have to rehearse and he’ll nail it. That’s how I got to play with Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots, Gary Newman, all these amazing and incredible artists.

Do you listen and try to figure out which part of yourself was going to play the drums that way? It reminds me of the actress, Charlize Theron. She’s so incredibly talented. I heard her say a line that she would use her legs and she would stand in a posture the way she thought the character would stand. She said that it would help her to embody that person. Would you listen to the music and try to figure out how to put that side of yourself into that music?

It’s three parts. One, it’s learning the songs like the record, but then also seeing how to do them live because bands extend things. Do little dropouts and do different things. It’s like doing your homework saying, “I’m going to learn it like the record but I’m also going to watch the YouTube live videos to see how they do this live.”

The third most important part is the singer is the bandleader. Learning the language, what they need from you when you need to take things down, bring it up, or support them. For our singer, we play 100% live. We don’t play to computers with backing tracks because our singer it’s all about the crowd. His breakdowns. His audience participation.

GRS Zummo | Frank Zummo

Frank Zummo – Let’s live in the moment because anything can happen and who the hell cares?

The hardest part of getting the gig was to learn his body language. Now before he even does that, I know what he’s going to do but it took me a long time to understand when he points his arm, he needs it brought down and he needs things extended. Something happens, or whatever it is. It’s learning that. It took a while. It was hard and I’m also playing some of the keyboard parts and pre-recorded things on pads live.

That was another ego thing where it’s like, “I’m going to have to simplify the drumming part to play these parts that are on the record because they weren’t doing that stuff live.” I wanted to bring that in to make it sound like the record live so I said, “I’m not going to do this big fill that’s supposed to be. I’m going to have to simplify it to get this part out.” That’s the whole ego thing where it’s not about that, it’s about the song, what sounds the best, and supporting the band and everybody around because it’s a team. There are five of us up there. Everyone’s singing, everyone’s playing and it all comes down on me for the tempos and everything that goes on so it’s a lot. You can’t get wrapped up in your head. That’s the biggest thing.

The second you do, you start making mistakes, and you’ve got to get out of your head. Whenever those thoughts come in, there’s the hard part coming up, or a fill. You mess it up if you get it in your head. You have to let it go and say, “I’m going to own it and go for it and let it go.” We have bad days and it’s life. The one thing that I’ve always taken on stage is everyone that comes there and pays a ticket, this is their release from life. They’re there to have a good time and to not worry about anything. They pay good money to be here. They don’t care that I had a fight with my wife or my arm hurts. All that crap needs to be left backstage and I need to come out there and give that to everybody that deserves it. You have to play every show like it’s your last.

What a relevant thing to say now, because, God forbid, what if something happened tomorrow? Would you want that last show? “I was upset because of this.” No. You have to leave it all on that stage. You have to take the time to reflect and I always look up in the stands because I remember being that little 5-year-old at the Mötley show being in the nosebleeds and having that effect on me.

I always try to take a moment in the show and look up and be like, “I remember being there. The fact that I’m here now, I’m so grateful. I need to have a little moment with myself.” I do that in every show no matter what because this is my dream and I can’t believe that it’s providing. That’s not what it’s about but the fact that it does, and I can give my family this life that we have is pretty incredible.

You say that you’re a team. When you were younger do you think the goal was to be a rock star? There are athletes that go, “I want to be a big athlete.” Was it, “This is what I want to do and spend my time and make my living with.” “I want to be a musician.”

Both. I always refer to myself as that little kid in my parents’ basement. I don’t see myself as this rock star. I even hate that word.

It’s that dream of it, the fantasy.

The perks and things that we get to do are absolutely amazing. I had this conversation with my wife because she’s like, “We’re moving to the country. I don’t want us to be, ‘Here they are from LA.’” It’s not that we have anything and I’m not showing up with a Lamborghini. It’s not that stuff or any of that. I said to my wife, “I don’t care what anybody thinks. Every single thing we have, we’ve worked our asses off to have and people think that’s showing off they can go out themselves because it’s not about that. I’ve come from nothing. Everything I have worked for. I work harder now than ever.”

[bctt tweet=”In the training, one of the hardest, but most rewarding things was learning hot and cold therapy. The best high in the world is leaving training here.”]

If we rounded out in the buckets that we all share as human beings some roles people aren’t in yet but they will be or whatever, as a dad in your parenting do you have a philosophy or a mantra that has helped get you to here so far?

Every day is a different day, different challenges. The routine, especially with kids, is up and down. Support your kids and be there for them as much as you can and lead by example because that’s what they know. It’s hard. I used to think touring, and not sleeping and the long flights were hard. I go on tour, now I’m on vacation, “I have to go play for 1.5 hours. Big deal and I get to stick around all day on the bus, or the dressing room.”

Being a parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life because it’s a life of worrying. That’s what we do. You worry about your children. You want only the best for them. Riot choke on a pineapple. It was the first time we’ve ever had a kid choke. He got it up himself. I was in the other room and my wife was crying because it was so traumatic. The worrying, the decisions that we have to make and be responsible for but you’ve got to let it go and lead by example and it’s communication. I want my kids to talk to us about everything and not hide anything. My mother and I are like that. I’d never hit anything. When bad stuff would happen to me, I would go to my mom, not my dad. I would say “Mom, this happened.” I want that relationship with my boys, the trust, the respect, and all of that.

What about as a husband? You’ve been in your relationship for over ten years? Is there something that you’re seeing that you’re practicing or implementing that’s supporting and being a good partner? We all go through phases, but maybe something you don’t know coming in that you have figured out like, “This works pretty well.”

What’s funny is this whole move and all this chaos, it wasn’t my wife’s idea. This is my idea. I always tell my wife, “All this chaos is my doing. Even though we’re moving down the street from your family, this is me. This is all me.”

“Even though we’re sleeping on an air mattress.”

I had said to my wife, “When I go back on tour, maybe after we save a nest egg again and whatnot, let’s look into maybe moving.” All of a sudden, I got on Zillow and I was like, “Your family moved. This is how much houses like this are and what you get.” We went up for the holidays. My wife’s brother is a realtor. We went and looked at twenty houses and I was like, “It’s on.” When I talked to my realtor in LA, he said what the market was doing a lot. It was all me.

I was like, “I take 100% responsibility for all this chaos because this was me. This wasn’t you.” The thing that was in the back of my head when I’m deep into a tour and with Sum 41 our rule is 4 to 5 weeks max and even if we own a day to go home. We don’t go past that. When I met you, we did that nine-weeker and the band was like, “No more nine-weekers because that’s too much.”

It’s the way that you’re showing up as a partner. We can only know sometimes and learn by both going through it. The way that you’re showing up as a partner is something that has helped you maybe navigate the partnership better.

She had always said, “I’m here alone with the boys. It’s a little lonely because I’m missing all my family things. It’s harder for me to drive or fly with two kids alone.” She was venting. It stuck with me and it rubbed me. Her sister, now that her brother moved out, and their parents are moving, they’re all up there. They posted a video of Santa coming down the street on a fire truck and her sister was like, “One day, hopefully, my sister is here too.” It got me.

I was like, “My kids need to have their cousins. My wife needs to have her family so when I go on tour, she’s got her family.” They are so incredible and so tight and they naturally are there for each other and help each other. It’s special. I’m like, “Why are we not part of this?” Especially when I’m on the road, having my wife have this help. My in-laws are getting way older and I’m like, “We need to be close.” It’s hard for me because, in my Zummo family, I’m the only Zummo left. It’s s my mom who’s divorced. My mom and my sister. My sister has got two kids, one I haven’t even met yet, and her husband. Also, my aunt and uncle, but it’s a small family. They’re all still in New York. I haven’t seen for over 1.5 years and I’m a mama’s boy so this sucks.

I saw you with your mom. It was cute.

The best moment was backstage in Hollywood and I’m doing my warm-up routine. You could feel someone behind you. It’s you and Laird coming in the dressing room and my mom is right next to me and I’m beating the crap out of the drum. She’s sound asleep, and you’re watching

You have headphones on and you’re on a kit that doesn’t make a bunch of noise to practice. Your mom is one foot from you sleeping and I was like, “That’s clearly Frank’s mother. She’s been in a whole life of that.” To wrap it up, it’s not that you’re new to actively taking care of yourself but maybe more new. If you’ve discovered some things that have helped you, we’ve talked about breathing, sleeping, and maybe not doing the three drinks because then you started doing the math. I was like, “You’re doing 5 shows, 15 drinks, and things like that.”

[bctt tweet=”My main point of this whole thing about health is I want to do this forever. I want to live longer.”]

Is there anything in your nutrition or anything else you’re doing that supports your health? A lot of times on the show, I have extreme and intense people in these categories like intense nutritionists or whatever. I would be curious about what you offer as somebody who lives a rigorous lifestyle when you’re not in COVID and you’re finding the way.

It’s definitely eating as clean, organic, and local as possible. A ton of vegetables, fruits, nuts. That’s how we eat. When I do the shopping, I’m not allowed to buy anything unless it’s checked all those boxes, especially on the road.

It’s hard on the road.

Many people will say, “I can’t afford to eat organic.” I’m like, “Before you go on the tour, go buy this hand shaker blender thing and go buy protein powder with all these things.” That’s what I did for seventeen days. I was in Florida around terrible strip malls and stuff. I packed my suitcase with all of my greens, all the stuff between you guys, Primal Kitchen, and organics. I threw it on the blender every day, and I’m getting everything that I need.

Buy that stuff before you go on the road, and you have it every day. You don’t need to eat Taco Bell and all this stuff. With some upcoming kids that were doing that I helped them change their lifestyle. That’s why going out on this tour to talk to kids, it’s the perfect partnership with Laird Superfood. I talk about it to the kids because I’m like, “I’m as healthy as can be. This is what I do. This is what you should do.” We talk about mental health and all this stuff.

When the school found out about Laird Superfood, they were like, “This is amazing.” If you said, “So and so energy drink garbage is the sponsor,” we’re not backing that because we want to promote health to our kids. When they do School of Rock Little All-Star Tours, the kids have to go to bed on time and they can’t eat junk food. They’re instilling this. This is a perfect brand for you to do this.

Do you think you were close to this practice, though, even in your mid-20s because of your mom’s practice of, “We have real food.” Do you think that you were pretty much ahead of the game?

A little bit, but didn’t dive deep into the last couple of years.

Is there something besides the consistent alcohol that you’ve taken out of your ritual and the daily habits that you noticed have impacted your health?

Just alcohol and doing a massive amount of supplements, and vitamins. In the training, one of the hardest, but most rewarding things was learning hot and cold therapy. It’s not the funnest, especially for inflammation, athletes, drummers, and musicians. The best high in the world is leaving training here. It’s the same way that I feel after a show.

It’s the right high and energy and it fuels me to be like, “How do I change this or do this?” It’s been fun because I was not motivated to go to the gym and whatever to find these new ways to make it fun. Also, the results were incredible in so many ways. I’ve had so many other drummers and people hit me up on, “What’s this XPT?” “What’s this?”

Do you think you’re going to be something easy 75, 80? There are people who do things that make you think, “This is a young person’s game.” You start to realize, “They will do this for their entire life.”

There’s no retirement for me because I feel this is me. Going to see Fleetwood Mac, and these bands, that they’re still playing arenas, and they’re up there killing it is so inspiring. Do you think that Laird’s ever going to get off a surfboard? That’s so inspiring to see. Metallica is still doing it. It’s insane music. My main point of this whole thing about health is I want to do this forever. My grandfather, bless him, lived until he was in his mid-90s. I want to live that long or longer.

GRS Zummo | Frank Zummo

Frank Zummo – The fact that I’m here now, I’m so grateful. I need to have a little moment with myself. I do that in every show no matter what because this is my dream and I can’t believe that it’s providing.

I want to be there for my kids and see all their moments so whatever the hell I can do to do that. Consulting with this incredible team that’s in this world that you’ve introduced me to, I could never thank you guys enough. It’s emotional in so many ways. For you guys to help my wellness, I’m a better human because of this whole experience and everything. Saying thank you isn’t even enough. It’s special and I’ve incorporated this into my life. I can’t talk about it enough.

That’s the important part. People have to realize that it is so multi-dimensional and relational like you were saying, with your kids, your wife, your art, and your food. I want to ask you one last question. By the way, it’s an honor to know you. If I said to you, “Frank, I’m interested in learning music,” I would imagine you would help me.

For sure.

That’s what we all would naturally do. That’s in humans. We can say, however, it gets presented out in the world, but I truly believe people want to learn and people want to share and teach so you know that from teaching yourself. I appreciate it. I saw you, the first time you went to the ice tub and your mental grit definitely showed up. If you could tell young Frank 25, 28 one thing of advice, something that maybe you’ve learned for yourself firsthand, would there be anything?

It’s funny because I have been asked that here and there. As far as the music, the career, definitely everything because that’s the thing too, I constantly tell the kids too. With social media now, which wasn’t a thing when we were coming up, it’s your highlights reel. Kids aren’t posting your failures. People are being more honest these days, which is good to see. It’s like, “I had this problem,” or whatever, but it’s your highlight reel.

You’re not seeing that when I moved out here and my band failed. I was broke and living off a cup of ramen. It’s like, “I don’t need to post about it nor talk about it.” Kids think, “You came out here and you made it.” I was like, “No, that’s not how it was.” It was hard but I wouldn’t trade that in for the world because I have a lot of friends that made it out of high school and were billionaires on MTV. That’s amazing for them. They did it but that’s a one in a million chance. That doesn’t happen but I appreciate it even more now coming from nothing and all that.

The only advice I’d give myself is to stay away from the toxic girls on the road. You get new attention because you’re in the band. To be real, I had a stripper fiance, back in my early 20s. It’s stuff like that. Get all that out. I had to go through all that. Even when I got with my wife, I still was in another world and she basically was like, “Get your crap together or I’m out of here. I’m packing my bags and I’m out.” It made me grow. I was like, “I don’t want to lose this. I love her and her parents.” It’s all of this stuff that was too important to me because I’m still family. I was like, “I want my partner’s family to be somebody that wants to be with.” I love my in-laws, her brothers and sisters, and everybody. It’s super important.

Maybe we all have to go through it and learn it ourselves but hopefully don’t stay on it too long.

It’s the same thing with groups and things. You don’t have to be toxic. There are a lot of toxic people and bands and things that are bad and that’s why people do have an addiction or mental health problems. You need to remove yourself from those situations as hard as it may be.

I appreciate your time. Thank you for coming here. I know you’re in the middle of chaos, and you have your Vans show. I admire your work ethic and your dedication not only to your craft but to your family. Thank you.

Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading. If you’d like, rate, subscribe and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me, @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.

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About Frank Zummo

GRS Zummo | Frank ZummoSince 2004 Zummo has been one of three drummers in the punk rock percussion band Street Drum Corps. He’s also the former drummer for Dead By Sunrise, a side-project of late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, which has changed heavily due to Bennington’s suicide.

Zummo was from 2012 til 2013 live drummer for the band Julien-K.

In July 2015 Frank Zummo played for Sum 41at their comeback show. This marked the 1st time Zummo played with the band live as he had months before jammed with Deryck Whibley. This got many fans to speculate if Zummo would in fact be the replacement drummer since Joczleft in 2013. The band had nothing to say about it but in July 2015 Zummo became an official member of the band.