Within five years of forming in Ontario, Canada, the band Sum 41 had a major hit with its first single “Fat Lip.” Its follow-up singles “In Too Deep,” “Pain For Pleasure” and “Motivation” also had successful, leading the album All Killer, No Filler to platinum status in the United States. More hits came for the band over the next few albums, including “The Hell Song,” “Still Waiting,” “We’re All To Blame” and “Pieces.” That continuous success led Sum 41 to Juno, Grammy, Kerrang!, MTV, Woodie and MuchMusic award nominations.
Oct. 7 will bring the release of 13 Voices, Sum 41’s first studio album since 2011. The band’s new five-piece lineup — which includes vocalist/guitarist Deryck Whibley, lead guitarist Dave “Brownsound” Baksh, co-lead guitarist Tom Thacker, bassist Cone McCaslin and drummer Frank Zummo — comes to town a week later with an Oct. 14 gig at The Playstation Theater. Those unable to attend the show in Times Square also have a chance to see Sum 41 the night before at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville. On both shows, Senses Fail and As It Is will also be on the bill.
Downtown caught up with Frank for some Q&A. Frank, who joined Sum 41 in 2015, is no stranger to our area as he grew up on Long Island. Prior to joining Sum 41, he founded Street Drum Corps. He has also toured with Krewella, Julien-K, Virgin Steele, and theSTART, showing his ability to truly play any kind of music. As if those credits were not impressive enough, Frank was the handpicked last-minute replacement for Tommy Lee for a handful show of Motley Crue shows in 2009.
How did you wind up in Sum 41? Had Street Drums Corp toured with Sum 41?
Frank Zummo: I actually met the guys back in 2007 for the first time, when Street Drum Corps and Sum 41 were on the Vans Warped Tour together. Over the years I’ve become good friends with Deryck and we worked together on a show with Tommy Lee for the Guitar Center Drum Off Concert. In 2013, Street Drum Corps had our Vegas residency at the Hard Rock and Deryck was our special guest for opening night. It was the first time we had ever played together and it really clicked. He invited me over to his house a few times to jam and after a week hanging and jamming with the full band they asked me to join and be their full-time drummer and band member.
With Dave having rejoined the band, Sum 41 is now a five-piece. Did that change any of the songs’ arrangements for live performances?
FZ: It didn’t change any of the song arrangements, but having five of us onstage really makes the band sound ferocious live!
Is ever tough being a non-Canadian in Sum 41?
FZ: (laughs) Not at all, I just don’t understand certain references sometimes. Last night they we’re talking about a Canadian chocolate commercial and I had no idea what they were talking about.
You notably filled in for Tommy Lee for a few Motley Crue shows. What was the most challenging part of that gig?
FZ: Filling in for a legend! It was the most insane experience of all time. My first concert was at five years old and it was Motley on the Shout At The Devil Tour supporting Ozzy [Osbourne]. That night changed my life and I knew that I wanted to be a drummer for a career and livelihood. To fast forward to being in the band that changed my life was a beyond surreal moment and really was full circle! It was everything and then some being in that band and playing those shows. I had no rehearsal or soundcheck and had to play the Dr. Feelgood record from start to finish and then all the hits.
At what point in your brief Motley Crue tenure did you get accustomed to all of the pyro and loud pops?
FZ: Never! They were off-time on purpose to startle the crowd and they always got me!
You were also briefly in a band that I used to follow, theSTART. Was that your first experience with a band that had been on a major label?
FZ: When I joined they we’re on the indie label Nitro Records. They were my first serious touring gig when I moved to L.A. Street Drum Corps was my first major label experience when we signed with Interscope.
Is it true that you had played with Virgin Steele? Were you part of any of their three-hour live shows in Europe?
Where in New York did you grow up?
FZ: Brentwood and Dix Hills, Long Island. My family is all still on the Island. I studied drums in Manhattan and spent many childhood summers in the City.
What made you decide to move to Los Angeles?
FZ: I had been coming to L.A. for a few years and always felt that I belonged there. I decided to pack my car and head out for a year to try it. The night I moved to L.A., I met my Street Drum Corps partners and I’ve been there for almost 13 years. California constantly inspires me and I truly love living there.
Is there anything you miss about living here?
FZ: My family and friends, bagels, pizza, my mother’s cooking and the feeling you get when standing in Manhattan.
Did you have a favorite venue in town in New York?
FZ: Roseland Ballroom. I grew up seeing tons of concerts there and finally got to perform there with Street Drum Corps two times.
What about restaurants? Is there a place you hope to get to when in town for your show at the Playstation Theater?
FZ: Puglia Ristorante in Little Italy.
What’s to be expected from your Playstation Theater show in terms of the set? Heavy emphasis on the latest Sum 41 album?
FZ: We will definitely be playing a few new tunes, which we’re really excited about playing live. We also will be playing some songs that have never been played before from the old records. We also have a lot of amazing surprises planned and an epic production. I’m also looking forward to my drum solo section for this tour.
For the launch of the record and touring cycle, I’m debuting a special collaborative drum kit with artist Shepard Fairey of Obey and SJC Custom Drums. We have created a special art kit containing Shepard’s original art pieces. The kit is based on his art piece Rise Above. The world has been a crazy place these days and I wanted to make a statement piece kit, because I speak through my art/drumming, and I called Shepard and he was onboard.
SJC has amazing and next level technology to bring the art pieces to life on the kit. It’s been amazing to work with a company that knows how to push boundaries and create special art Kits and also amazing sounding kits. The Hard Rock Vegas is going to display the kit when our touring cycle wraps up. This is something I’m really proud of and can’t wait to take this kit on the road.
After this current U.S. tour wraps, what’s ahead for Sum 41?
FZ: We will continue touring the world to support this record.
Do you have any projects going on beyond Sum 41?
FZ: Yes, I will be busy running Street Drum Corps with my partners as we have many troupes out performing. I also will be playing shows with Krewella.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
FZ: My touring off-time is spent entirely with my family, wife and son. I’m a new father to a seven-month-old and it’s been beyond amazing. I just had my wife and son out on four dates of the Warped Tour and it was really special.
Finally, Frank, any last words for the kids?
FZ: Much love to the Sum 41 fans for all the love and support. The shows have been amazing! Last night we played the Sziget Festival in Budapest to 50,000 people. It was beyond the most beautiful, emotional and amazing show of my career. If you have a dream, go until you achieve it, because if you believe in yourself and your art it will happen!