We’re aware you know who Frank Zummo is—after all, you voted him for Best Drummer at last year’s Alternative Press Music Awards. The drum dynamo—co-founder of rhythm-and-noise franchise Street Drum Corps and timekeeper for Sum 41—can boast a career of bum-out lows and stratospheric highs.
So when Zummo and SJC Drums co-founder Mike Ciprari rolled into Cleveland during the Loyal To The Craft tour to promote the joy of drumming, they stopped by the AP office to check in, hang out and chat up.
On the latest installment of the Cautionary Tales podcast, Zummo detailed his career from his Long Island, New York, days as an ambitious sideman to entrepreneur as one-third of Street Drum Corps to powering the engine room of Sum 41.
Dues were paid via costly car repairs, roach-infested apartments and friends and family sending food so he could survive L.A. Zummo and brothers Bobby and Adam Alt formed SDC in 2004. The following year, they teamed up with the Used’s Bert McCracken to record a version of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” ostensibly starting their career. This led to Kevin Lyman offering SDC a slot on the 2007 Warped Tour—with a huge caveat.
“He said, ‘I can’t pay you. You can have your own stage on the midway and set up every day,’” Zummo recalls to Jason Pettigrew. “We got 10 companies—from musical instruments to staging companies—to sponsor us and pay for it all so we could come out. And that’s when Bert said, ‘I’m going to come out on the Warped Tour with you guys.’
“We’re like, ‘You’re full of shit. You’re not going to come out with us,’” he continues. “‘OK, if you’re coming out with us, we’re rehearsing today, and we leave tomorrow.’ [Bert] showed up for rehearsal, and he showed up to get in the van. This is when the Used were about to release In Love And Death—this was their heyday. We show up to Warped Tour. We have our own stage, our own PA and Bert just wanted to get artsy. Get onstage, play his trumpet, play his kazoo, sing, chant, scream, play drums. Bert stood on our speaker and signaled to the crowd to come over, and they had to shut our stage down—it was fuckin’ pandemonium. We had to have security and barricades around our stage every day.
“It was the most incredible experience. We had to drive, build our stage, build our PA. Bert helped us every day; he stayed in the shitty hotels with us, and it was pretty incredible. To now play the final Warped Tour—we did Toronto—and to be going from building my own stage to being on the mainstage is a pretty amazing act.”
Zummo shares everything from his career low of SDC being signed to Interscope for years and accomplishing nothing, as well as such personal highs as reviving the Corps to become a successful entertainment franchise, and playing with electronic-rock avatar Gary Numan and childhood heroes Mötley Crüe, covering for an injured Tommy Lee.
And who could forget the legend of how he and No Doubt/DREAMCAR drummer Adrian Young enlisted twenty one pilots’ Josh Dun for the Epic Drum Moment at the 2017 APMAs. You don’t have to be a player to enjoy this episode of Cautionary Tales, but if you don’t listen to it, you’ll never know how many drummers it takes to change a light bulb…