Marquee Memories: Frank Zummo

Lifelong punk rock drummer Frank Zummo has a lot going on. A couple weeks ago he live debuted a new solo project, Gravas (see here) He's been playing drums since he was 3 years old, most recently for Sum41; he's played Coachella, won countless awards and subbed for Tommy Lee while Mötley Crüe was touring. He's got cred AND a heart of gold, as he frequently leads motivational drum workshops for youth. Is it a miracle he had a minute to sit down and tell us about some of his greatest live music experiences? Maybe. So please enjoy Frank's stories:

Mötley Crüe and Ozzy

My first concert, I was five. I had already been drumming, I started when I was like two or three. Bless my parents for bringing me to such an insane, amazing show. Ozzy's "Bark at the Moon" and Mötley Crüe's "Shout at the Devil." We had literally the nosebleed seats, so for me being five, it seemed like I was a million miles away. When Mötley Crüe came on, it was just larger than life. Tommy Lee just felt like the biggest thing in the world to me, and then Ozzy came out. He had Tommy Aldridge, who's one of the most iconic drummers as well, so it was just a drum insane night. I literally knew at that moment this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Years and years later, I got to meet Tommy and we instantly just became great friends.
I wake up one morning and my phone is like, missed calls, texts, emails, I'm like, "What is going on?" They're like, "Tommy had an accident last night and he couldn't drum, you need to go to the airport right now." I walked in, no rehearsal, no sound check. We get on stage. I spent my entire childhood playing to those records in the basement, like I knew 'em. It went amazing. It was smiling, screaming, every emotion possible. Talk about such a full circle, amazing story.


I was a Metallica fan early on, and "The Black Album" was a game changer. And they came to Nassau Coliseum, which was my hometown arena that I saw all the shows at, and that was the first time I had ever seen a band perform in the round. There was no opening act, it was just them in the middle of the arena. Lars had multiple drum sets, which he still does to this day, so everybody can get a view of him. Production on another level. They would go to live cameras of the guys backstage, kind of amping up the crowd and messing with the crowd, and I happened to be in a place where the camera crew was with my buddies and we just immediately started just moshing, going nuts, to no music, in the concourse. We had no idea what it was gonna be used for, we're in our seats before they go on, and we see ourselves and it was just like, "Oh my god, I'm on the TV screen."
Last summer, Sum 41, we got to open for Metallica at a festival in Belgium and it was insane. I walked up on soundcheck and there's Lars' kit and my kit just buttons up to his kit. We're playing, looking at the snake pit, that my band's just running around on and all that. It was pretty amazing.

James Brown

My dad was a college radio DJ in Michigan. In those records, there was James Brown records, and I immediately fell in love and you want to dance, it's so emotional and James is like, what a performer, an artist. Right before I moved to California, in Long Island, there was some little amphitheater somewhere, and I saw he was playing and I went. He was incredible and the way he conducted a band, he had two drummers, but they didn't play at the same time. He would just signal and the other dude would have to jump in. It could be in the middle of a song, it could be in the middle of a verse, so you have to be ready to go at all times. And to watch how he would conduct the band and if someone messed up, he'd give him the look. It was like a bucket list thing to just get to see him and feel that energy and just to feel that whole crowd of people just moving. I had someone once tell me like, "Put on James Brown's Sex Machine and just play it over and over until one day you understand what the pocket is." and I'm just like, "I don't know what you're talking about."
Sure enough, just one day I was like, "Wait a second." Just this feeling that happened, this connection with just the beat, with your band, with the audience and that feeling, and it's like, I contribute that to growing up with James Brown records.
Catch Frank on tour with Sum41 in 2024 and keep an eye out for solo dates and drum workshops on his Instagram.

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Last updated: 3 Dec 2023, 23:56 Etc/UTC