MARQUETTE - From playing with friends in the band room at Munising High School to arenas packed with thousands of fans as drummer for the Gin Blossoms, Scott Kusmirek has come a long way in his musical career already.
Now the Munising native has put together his own band with singer Matthew Thornton and that brand new venture is making waves in the music industry.
Kusmirek will bring his new band, Vinyl Station, to his hometown and other stops in the Upper Peninsula next week.
In his high school days, Kusmirek -Kooze to his friends -would get together at lunch time with friends to jam. Soon, school officials were wondering why the cafeteria was a ghost town. They discovered most of the Munising student body was over in the music room listening to Kooze and his friends play.
Impressed by what he heard, Kooze's music teacher, Larry Zomer, offered to give him free drum lessons and things took off from there.
But that wasn't really the genesis of his interest in music. Kusmirek's grandfather, Jack Gordon, was president of Cameron Musical Industries. Kusmirek's uncle, Bobby Gordon, is a celebrated jazz clarinetist.
Kusmirek said both played a role in cultivating his love for various genres of music and both educated him about the business side of the music industry.
From the band room, Kusmirek moved to the garage and from there, to local venues.
"I actually started playing out up in Marquette," Kusmirek said in a telephone interview. "I was in bands like Kicking Mr. Rogers and bit o' jane."
It was with bit o' jane that Kusmirek made a geographical move, to Arizona. Within a year, bit o' jane was receiving radio airplay in Tempe, Ariz., and was voted by Phoenix New Times as Best Pop/Rock Band (unsigned).
Kusmirek also was part of the Reign Kings, a band which like bit o' jane performed with music industry giants like Alanis Morrisette, Counting Crows and The Dave Matthews Band.
From there, Kusmirek was recruited by the Gin Blossoms to become that Grammy-winning band's drummer. He toured and recorded with the Gin Blossoms starting in 2002.
Kusmirek's newest venture started when he heard a singer one night when he was out on the town.
"I had been part of the Gin Blossoms for seven or eight years and we were on break from a tour," Kusmirek said. "I went to a wine bar and Matthew was singing. I thought he had a great voice and a cool style. We got to talking and he handed me a CD.
"Later, I took a listen and it was kind of a Nine Inch Nails-techno sort of thing," he said. "About a year later, Matt came over to my house and that's when we started to put things together. I left the Gin Blossoms to pursue putting my own band together with Matt."
Vinyl Station, which includes Darell Colton on drums, Blake Thompson on lead guitar and Ted Greenbaum on keyboards, started working together this past January.
"So it hasn't been long at all," Kusmirek said. "We have been playing in Arizona the past few months. We played our first gigs in Scottsdale."
Now the band is on its first tour.
"We're basically an all-originals band, although we do a few cover songs to fill out the evening," he said. "We do a cover of 'Rocket Man' that's getting a lot of attention and may be on a movie soundtrack next year."
Thornton and Kusmirek work on songwriting together.
"It's a collaborative effort with Matthew and myself. He writes the songs and I arrange and produce them," Kusmirek said.
With his father still living in Munising, Kusmirek visits the area as often as he can, having recently been home for some jet skiing and family time. He's thrilled to be bringing his new band to the U.P.
"It's going to be great," he said. "I have played up there with other bands and the band I am bringing this time is cool. It's not loud rock. It's a bit more mellow."
Down the road, Kusmirek has some objectives for Vinyl Station.
"I'd like us to continue to make good records and do some touring," he said. "I'd like to see us do the same thing as when I was with the Gin Blossoms: Play and tour."
Vinyl Station will wrap up its tour with a two-day music video shoot in Detroit for their song "Gone."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.