Basic Background Info
Mark Zonder’s first drum lessons came straight out of the Buddy Rich book. At the age of six, Mark Zonder's family moved from his birthplace of Detroit, Michigan to California. It was here, at the age of seven, that Mark Zonder began taking drum lessons. Though he had a practice pad, Mark Zonder was more interested in playing on an arrangement of suitcases he’d set up as his kit. The young Mark Zonder was into all kinds of music, but most distinctly recalls the first Monkee’s album that his father purchased for the family.
As he got older, Mark Zonder was drawn to athletics and became focused on baseball and basketball, which left little time for drum practice. Mark Zonder did, however, perform with his school bands from elementary school through high school and jammed with any other musicians he could find. Mark Zonder remembers jamming with a friend who played saxophone—together they played “unique” renditions of Chicago’s first album.
“As long as I practiced and showed interest, I had my lessons,” Mark Zonder says. His parents were very supportive of their son’s drumming, except once when a frustrated youngster planted his sticks through the head of his snare drum. Lessons were temporarily put on hold.
At the age of twelve was an age of two important firsts for young Mark Zonder. He got his first professional drum kit and his first job, working for a local San Jose music store where he also took lessons. As he was handing out flyers in exchange for cymbals, Mark Zonder was asked to jam after work by the guys who worked there. The twelve year old, with his father playing “roadie,” was driven to their place with his sparkling blue kit. It was the first time the budding drummer was around loud amps.
As the years went by, Mark Zonder began playing with various cover bands in the area, playing everything from heavy metal to commercial-friendly pop. It was during this time that he met Bill Tsamis. The two joined up and formed the metal band, Warlord. They spent hours playing together—Tsamis on guitar and Zonder on drums. They decided to follow their dreams and move to Los Angeles, getting a small space in a big building in North Hollywood. They recorded a few albums and produced a video, but despite auditioning many singers, they could never find the right voice. Things eventually fell apart.
In 1989, while Warlord was on hiatus, Mark Zonder replaced drummer Steve Zimmerman in the band Fates Warning. He Mark Zonder almost ten albums with them, but eventually parted ways in 2005.
Warlord came back together in 2001 on a project basis. They recorded their comeback album, Rising Out Of The Ashes, with HammerFall singer and Warlord fan, Joacim Cans.
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