A kid with saxophone laced dreams, Tyler Zarzeka changed his instrument of choice in 2001 after seeing Blink 182. Travis Barker wasn’t the only reason why the drums took control of his life. He said, “Seeing Blink 182 play, watching a local band at my high school perform, wanting to fit in, and just being introduced to hardcore, emo, pop punk, and pop rock. All genres where drums are very present, interesting, and fun!”
Today the kid that just wanted to play the drums is making a legit career out of it on tour. Tyler’s played for the likes of Charlie Perth and Kiiara and is currently on the road with Noah Cyrus on Katy Perry’s grand excursion. You can see Tyler out with Noah a few more nights, and while that’s about to end – he notes he’s got more opportunities on the way. He talked a bit about what’s next, being educated on various levels and what it’s really like to be a touring musician.
Kendra: Were your parents hesitant when you said you wanted to head to the Musicians Institute?
Tyler Zarzeka: Actually my dad was the reason I went to MI. He was very adamant on whatever career I decided on, that I needed to go to school for that as well. Both my parents were very supportive of me leaving home. I am so glad they pushed me in this direction because I was one of the worst students when I first started at MI. Every other student already seemed to have years of drumming education under their belt. It really opened up my eyes to how hard I was going to need to work at music in order to become mediocre at best.
Kendra: At this point in your career you’ve definitely have had the chance to learn from a lot of real-world experiences, but is there something you learned at MI that still resonates on an everyday basis with you
Tyler: The core of everything I have learned from MI is never get comfortable. You can always be better. There will always be someone out there pushing harder, so do the very best you can.
Kendra: Do you think you’d be where you are at this point if you’d skipped MI and just went for it as a musician?
Tyler: 100% NO, I owe everything to Musician’s Institute. Like I said, I was the worst student in my first week at class. I’ll never forget my first day. It was a live playing class where we had to perform with a bass player and a guitar player. We had to read a chart and perform a simple song, the song was “Billie Jean,” seemed easy enough. I couldn’t even play that, it was embarrassing!
Kendra: Whether or not, you are where you are and right now that’s on tour playing with Noah Cyrus on the Katy Perry tour. That’s huge. Obviously, right? So how did you come to work with Noah and become a part of her crew
Tyler: I have had a lot of great opportunities come my way simply by referrals. I am very lucky to have the people I have worked with enjoy working with me enough to pass my name along to others.
Kendra: A lot of people sleep on the life of a touring musician. I know a guy who does it and your lives seem pretty awesome. Traveling around the world, doing what you love. Any drawbacks though that I’m not seeing?
Tyler: One thing that most people don’t realize is that we session musicians are independent contractors. We don’t get health, vision, or dental benefits and we don’t have money set into a 401K or retirement plan. Also, come tax season, we have so much more work to do in order to get the proper refund. As a result I’m very jealous of people with only one W-4, not ten.
Kendra: Do you know who you’ll be playing with after this tour wraps up at the end of October?
Tyler: I have a few things in the works. We will see where the drums take me next!
Kendra: Lastly, we love all creative types here at ZO. With that, if you had to compare your drumming style to that of a famous painter, who would it be and why
Tyler: I would have to say, Bob Ross. His painting technique seems to be based on countless hours of practice, and his outcome is nothing less than great. He also has such a great time doing what he loves, I feel we’re the same person in that sense. I’m very grateful for where I am in the music industry.