I got to sit down with my friend Syrus Peters. Not only does this man kill it on the drums, he also has years of dedication in the music industry as a band manager, stage manager and a very talented musician.
He resides in beautiful Cocoa Beach, Florida — the land of zen and waves. The man has been all over the world, with some of the biggest heavy-hitters in the industry. He was previously the tour manager for Papa Roach and is currently the production and stage manager for Slightly Stoopid, the stage manager of Korn and so many more. His career has taken him on a global tour, experiencing some of the most intense moments in front of thousands of people!
In the midst of hurricane Ian sweeping through the great state of Florida, I met up with Syrus Peters and we got to sit down at local bar Jonathan’s Pub in downtown Cocoa Beach, getting into the grit of his life on the road, as well as his future endeavors.
You just got off the road with Korn and Evanescence. I bet that was amazing!
- SP: It was a nice five-week run, with a plethora of openers. It was a really great run! A lot of work, but a lot of fun!
What was your day-to-day like on this tour?
- It was very regimented, but that’s what I love about it. For me, the stage manager is the first one on the job and the last one out, so my day on the Korn tour would start out like 6:30am. Me and the riggers get on the floor, marking all the points where we are going to put all the lights and PA. It’s all empty, so we bring it upon arrival, video walls, lights… everything. Start emptying trucks at 7, set up the entire show, sound checks, doors, Evanescence and, finally, Korn! We are on a schedule that lasts about 16-17 hours on a regular day.
Hard frigging work!
- Yes, a lot of work production wise. We have upstage and downstage in front and behind the band. A lot of equipment, a lot of stuff, a lot of moving parts. Again, that’s what I like about a big production. C’mon… It’s rock-and-roll!
Wow, I bet it can be stressful.
- It can be. I’ve been known to yell once or twice a day… ya know. In the greater scheme of things, it is for the greater good of the show. Work hard, play hard!
What inspired you to start doing music?
- My dad. When I was a baby, he would play music for my brother and I. Dad played late 60s rock — Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Iron Butterfly… that’s what inspired me and my brother. I think there is a pic of me and my brother when I was three holding a Led Zeppelin album in my hands and I have big headphones on my head. Yes, that’s what inspired me to do music.
- I spent the first half of my life just wanting to be a drummer. Going from band to band; that was where it all started — with Dad.
Do you ever want to be in a band again?
- Yes, of course! If the right opportunity presents itself again, definitely.
You are an intense drummer… did it come natural?
- The way I look at it, drumming is my happy place. It is where I forget about everything and get lost. I never considered myself a great drummer — I just have fun doing it. And, I was good at doing it. That’s what I think of drumming… it’s my great escape and it’s a natural thing. I get lost in the music .
How do you keep focus in the busy rat race?
- The show. Honestly, I load in, then get the openers ready. When the band is onstage playing… that’s what makes everything worth it; that’s what it is all about. Then watching the band perform: feeling the music, seeing the music, being a part of the music. That’s what drives me.
Are you ever like ‘Wow… I am really doing this!’
- Every day! Oh, all the time. With all the people I work with and for the last 15 years, they are the bands I grew up with. They were my idols!
Who is your fave?
- Well, I worked with Papa Roach. Growing up, the band I was in got to do some shows with Papa Roach, so they knew me as a drummer and eventually, I became the stage manager. It was such a natural thing, it blew them away.
- That one is hard to top. We went everywhere: Japan, Australia, Europe, Asia… all over the U.S. and Canada multiple times. It was a beautiful transition of one part of my career to another part of my career.
Can you tell us any crazy stories from the road?
- I’ll bring up two. One time, and I won’t name the city in Texas, I was with Papa Roach and we had a sold-out show. This kinda shady promoter (that no one really deals with anymore) owed us a lot of money and we were going to settle up. And, literally, for the first time on U.S. soil, I feared for my life. I was explaining to them that they have to pay us this money. These were really big guys and it was a very intimidating situation. But, thank God, I talked my way out of that and let the people that needed to deal with that situation deal with it… because yeah, it got a little gnarly. I was like ‘Oh, shit man.’ This is not how this usually goes down… usually it’s very friendly. Like, hey, we just had a sold-out show, yes buddy, we made a bunch of good money, so are you guys going to pay us the back end?’
- “What back end?”
- Like… wtf!
- And, then the other one: we were in Russia on a promotional tour… three cities in Russia. And, I don’t know if you know anything about Russia, but in 2009/2010, the Russian government was nothing like it is now. The fucking Russian mob ran everything; all the shows were run by the mob. The guys putting on the show invited us down to the basement of the club we were in. We didn’t even know there was a basement. When we got down to the basement, the whole place was empty… between his party and ours [there were about] 15-20 people and we’re like ‘where is the party?’
- All of a sudden, 50 strippers come on the stage at the same time dancing to “Smack My Bitch Up”… like a whole erotic show. It was us and a bunch of Russian gangsters hanging out in a basement strip club. It was pretty amazing. They wouldn’t let us mix the vodka with anything, we had to drink straight vodka out of a carton. Pouring vodka straight out of a carton like their mom made it… straight gasoline, man… probably why I can’t drink anything now. We drank until we passed out and got on a plane the next day back home. That was Russia.
Can you give us a sneak peek into next year?
- People are hurting for people like me in the industry right now, people that get it and have been doing it for a long time now. A lot of us had to look for work and many had to change their careers because of COVID. They did whatever they had to do, because of the pandemic to survive. A lot didn’t come back so there are lots of job offers. Like, I am so busy right now, it’s crazy. Right now, I don’t know what exactly I will be doing next year, but I know I will be doing a lot of it.
Such drive! Any inspiring words for peeps out there, grinding away in this industry?
- I don’t care if you are a drummer, guitar player, a band, a stage guy or production, the thing you cannot do is stop. You cannot stop. If you stop, YOU DIE. This industry is so short-lived. If a band takes five years off, it will disappear. You won’t know anyone in this industry. That’s my main advice to anyone in this industry: if you’re in it, DON’T STOP. Unless you want to get out.
What do you do when you wake up in the morning?
- Well, it depends what I did the night before [laughs]!
- That’s the time I suck it up. If I just got to sleep at 2am and we’re rolling out 400 miles to the next city, me, I gotta get up at 6am and get three or four hours of sleep. I wake up and talk myself into it. I say, ‘Hey man, it’s going to be awesome!’
Syrus Peters has the drive of 10 men wrapped in one body. If you want something in life, you gotta bust your ass for it, no matter what obstacles come at you. This interview left me hydrated with passion to never give up on your DREAMS. Peters will be back with more stories on his future tours… to be continued…
Photography by Matt Davis & Syrus Peters