SDC Celebrates Tenth Anniversary: The Interview
Street Drum Corps Spreads Its Wings On Tenth Anniversary
The guys in Street Drum Corps are celebrating their tenth anniversary by performing for troops in the middle east.
Street Drum Corps would have to be invented if they did not exist. The band, founded by Bobby and Adam Alt and Frank Zummo, started banging on found objects in LA more than a decade ago, looking for an outlet for their work. When they landed a gig at Magic Mountain theme park they had no idea they would one day spread across the country and the world by franchising their act and inspirational style of music making. Mixing equal parts precision drum corps, street art, and post-apocalyptic Mad Max style, SDC has grown into a coast-to-coast entertainment machine, playing stage shows, arena, fairs, private parties, and concerts. This fall, you'll see their Blood Drums performances, timed to coincide with Halloween fright-night activities, taking place in several cities. We caught their Lost At Sea production at the Santa Cruz, California boardwalk in August, and then talked with Frank Zummo of Street Drum Corps this month, by email. Frank was in the Middle East on a tour to visit and perform for US troops.
DRUM! This is the tenth anniversary of SDC. I know you have a CD out and want to talk about that. But a big story is the way you've expanded SDC as a franchise and as a drumming entertainment vehicle. How many franchises do you have now?
Zummo Yes, we just released a special 10th anniversary recording. This 15 track-CD goes through our ten-year recording history. We currently have 10 troupes across the US & Canada performing many residencies at theme Parks, boardwalks and fairs. They also perform one-off's at festivals, sporting events & private events.
DRUM! How did you get started in franchising?
Zummo Ten years ago when we started, our first account was a summer residency at Six Flags Magic Mountain. In the middle of our residency, we got a call from our dear friends in the band The Used. They asked us to be their main support & intro to their huge US & Canadian Arena tour. We couldn't pass this up and had a chat with Magic Mountain management. They understood we couldn't pass up this huge opportunity. They were supportive and told us to take it. They said they could find another drum group to replace us or we could find and train our own replacements and keep an SDC group at the park. At that moment we thought that was genius and hence the franchise was born.
DRUM! Do drummers and groups approach you or do you find them?
Zummo We constantly get submissions from drummers year round. There's a ton of amazing talent out there. Some of our drummers have been constantly working with us for the past ten years.
DRUM!You had a great show in Santa Cruz this year, talk about that?
Zummo This summer we debuted a brand new production called Street Drum Corps' Lost At Sea. The show ran all summer on the main stage at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This was our biggest production to date with a huge stage set. We also branched out and added other amazing artists to this production. The show featured 3 drummers, 4 dancer/acrobatics performers and a fire performer.
DRUM! How much control do you have over these shows around the world? Artistic Control? Financial control?
Zummo We have 100 percent control over every production. When a client hires our company, we cast the show locally and then one of the SDC owners heads to that city and trains, produces and directs the cast and crew. We oversee everything from costumes to stage set.
DRUM! Give us an idea of what the Halloween shows this year will be like?
ZummoThis is our biggest and proudest franchise production and accomplishment. Our Street Drum Corps' Blood Drums show has been running for the past five years across the US & Canada. The shows perform at huge Halloween events and theme parks. This year we have six productions going out. The shows will be performing at: Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare in Arizona and Illinois; Los Angeles' Haunted Hayride; Dorney Park in Pennsylvania; Kings Dominion in Virginia; and Kings Island in Ohio. We will have 24 drummers working this Halloween season. All cast members are local. That is something we are really proud of, that we can hire local drummers to have an amazing job for the Fall season.
DRUM! What about outreach? You are spreading the word for drums wherever you go. Do you see that as your role?
Zummo We defiantly have the responsibly to spread the word and keep the drums alive. We do many outreach performances at colleges, camps and universities from ages 4 and up. It's always amazing to speak at these events and discuss art, drums, music and the business.
DRUM! What's the toughest aspect of being an SDC drummer/performer? What do you work on with these drummers?
Zummo Being an SDC performer is like being a lead singer. Our performers aren't tucked in the back of stage and hidden behind a drum set. They are characters and running all over the stage and being an absolute entertainer. It always takes a second to break down that wall and have them let loose. Once they do, it's a really magical moment and transformation. Then them adapting to performing on these unique found items and learning how to use an angle grinder as an instrument. There is a lot choreography and this show takes a lot of endurance as it's very high energy.