Chasing the Dream

by John Geysen

Zimma: MyFriendz, CD Release Party

If you listen hard enough you can hear the backbeat coming from a dark basement on a nondescript street in North Attleboro. Local musician Mark Zimmerman pounds away on his drum kit, rehearsing for his next show.

Mark, better known to friends and fans as Zimma, will soon release his first CD, Zimma: MyFriendz. And tomorrow night at KC’s Tap in Pawtucket he’s throwing a party to promote it.

The locally produced project pulls together 15 songs written by Mark. “I’ve been writing, recording, performing music for years now, but have never really released anything to the masses,” he says. “The CD has been a long time in the making. Finally I’ll have something to give them.”

A lifelong North Attleboro resident and graduate of North Attleboro High, Mark has long been a part of the local music scene. “Ever since I was 14 or so, I’ve been playing in bands, networking, and collaborating with any and every musician I could.”

Mark explains he has been “in and out of bands,” including one started by his older brother Dave, but like all good things they “came to an end.” Besides, he always knew that song composition was his true passion. “I’ve made that my top priority.”

Mark describes Zimma: MyFriendz as the “first brick laid in a wall that’s intended to be huge. When I’m old and gray, I hope to have an entire catalog of albums and dozens of other artistic endeavors under my belt.”

It runs in the family. Mark’s dad, David R. Zimmerman, contributed to the CD and will also perform at the release party with his band Almost Relative. “My father is a musician, so I was brought up in a rock n’ roll household. He has played a huge role in all of this. He’s a phenomenal guitarist, but he put his rock n’ roll dreams on the back burner to start a family. He’s my ultimate motivation, and has always given me the positive reinforcement I needed. I can say flat out, without my dad’s support, I wouldn’t be half the musician I am today.”

Even for someone brought up as Mark was, listening to the Beatles on a daily basis, playing before a crowd can be a thrill. “Being on stage is a rush like none other. I’ve had the opportunity to grace the stage at such grand venues as Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. And let me tell you, when those lights are reflecting off your sweat-glistening skin, your music is pounding through stacks of oversized speaker cabs, and hundreds of eager eyes are set on you, there’s nothing else to do but let it all hang out. It’s really quite empowering and frightening all at once. There’s nothing quite like it.”

When asked about recording Zimma: MyFriendz, Mark quickly gives credit to others. “Every musician that contributed to the final versions of these songs is super-talented. If I didn’t admire and respect their musical abilities I wouldn’t have asked them to contribute. They are the ones who truly breathed life into my songs. I am truly grateful for every note they played.”

On this night a few of those musicians are gathered in the basement/recording studio of Larry Fecteau’s house. Larry, a member of the local band The Uplifters, plays drums on a few tracks of Zimma: MyFriendz and contributes some of the guitar work. Also present are guitarist Bob Eddy and bass player Bob Hill, both featured on the record. Mark refers to them as “North Attleborians,” which draws some colorful responses from the guys as they take a break to catch a few innings of the Red Sox.

“I can’t imagine a future that doesn’t revolve around music. That would be like waking up in the twilight zone,” Mark says. “Don’t get me wrong, I have no delusions of grandeur. I know that making it in the music industry is a roll of the dice to say the least.”

Keeping that in mind, Mark went out and earned a bachelor’s degree from Umass Dartmouth. Now he says, “I have a good job doing work I enjoy. I make enough money to live on my own and invest in my music and I’m happy.”

However, even while working a 9 to 5, music remains Mark’s top priority. “I’ll get a melody in my head while I’m laying in bed, while I’m taking a shower, while I’m driving home from work.” At times it can be difficult to balance but Mark says, “I just get a little less sleep than I’d like.”

The 15 tracks appearing on Zimma: MyFriendz were recorded at different times, in different places, and with different people. Some were done at the Aftershock Recording Studio in Taunton. A few of the songs were recorded at Larry’s Basement Studio. Mark even recorded and produced some of the songs himself in his own living room. “The most challenging part of this process was getting the sound I’m looking for. You know, that “radio” sound. The top-notch production that slams through a good stereo.”

That “sound” includes a guitar solo by Chris Nelson on the song “Villain.” Nelson, another “North Attleborian,” works as the touring guitarist for The Platters. Mark describes his work as, “reminiscent of Joe Satriani or Steve Via.”

With a touch of salesman in his voice, Mark talks about his goals. “I’ve always been driven. I want to get a song on the radio. Period. I want that more than anything. I don’t care if I’m never a rock star. I don’t care if I never sell millions of albums, or get my face smeared all over the magazines. But I want to write at least one song that strikes a chord with people, gets stuck in their heads, and causes them to sing it while they’re in the shower. I want to be 70, sitting in a bar, and hear my song start playing over the speakers. I want to smile, nod my head, and say to myself, here’s something that will still be here when I’m gone. Here’s something to show for all the blood, sweat, and tears. Here’s me.”

The CD Release Party will be the first opportunity people have to get their hands on the album. It will soon be available online at

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle

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