If you ever followed the Long Beach music scene or went to one of the numerous backyard parties that Sublime played then you either know or have seen Todd “Zman” Zalkins. His band Corn Doggy Dog and the Half Pound played in the scene for numerous years bringing with it a cult following of deranged party goers with Z-Man the ring leader. There could be a party in Long Beach but it would not be a true bash until Z-Man walked through the door. His antics with Sublime are part of Long Beach lore as he rose up the party scene with the bands popularity. By the time his band was ready to play shows all of the Sublime minions were pumped up to go see the wild Zman in action. While the band was good the shows really made their following as they were true to the punk rock mayhem that had been laid down before them by bands like TSOL, Falling Idols and of course Sublime. But what makes Zman’s story so intriguing is the fact that this man not only lived through it he survived it. His book “Dying for Triplicate” is an amazing tale of the ride his life took. How through all the drug and alcohol nights he is able to recall the events that happened is mind boggling. He describes his side of the scene in such great detail that if you ever witnessed even one of these nights you are instantly thrown back in time and can see those in his circle doing just what he described in full clarity. Zman also had a hand in the documentary “Behind the Orange Curtain” which just played at the Newport Film Festival. Luckily Zman took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions that hopefully will give us a brighter picture into the amazing life that has been Todd Zalkins wild ride.
What bands have you been in?
SS Rappers, The Big Bumouts, Peter North & the 5 Ropers, & Corn Doggy Dog and the Half Pound
When did you start playing music?
I don’t play music, I tried to play guitar when I was 12, and my ADD wasn’t buyin’ it. I sing, but not very well from what most people tell me!
What was my first instrument?
A Coors Tall Boy.
Who are your influences?
Falling Idols, Slouch, Tex & the Horseheads, The Clash, Minor Threat, Blondie, Stones, UFO, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Bill Withers, Big Drill Car, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Devo, The Damned, New York Dolls, and of course Iggy.
You played the rapist in the Sublime video “Date Rape” and Lou Dog took a bite out of your bottom lip, any scars left?
Yeah, that spotted little criminal-canine bit the shit out of my lip. Thank god a plastic surgeon was on call at Long Beach Memorial; he did a killer job putting it back together, forty some odd stitches on the inside and out. Only scars I have are emotional, when I see a Dalmatian I get a baseball bat or run like hell…just kidding.
What is your favorite Sublime memory?
I could take forever to answer that one; there is a ton of ‘em. But I think what takes the cake is the first warped tour; I guess it was in ’95. Sublime was on the east coast and Miguel received a call from Brad who was missing his dog (the little criminal Louie). So I get a call from Miguel out of the blue, “Zman what are you doing? Wanna go deliver Louie to New York with me?” My answer was rather short, “Shit yeah.” But it’s what happened when we got out there, that turned things upside down. The band could get into enough trouble on their own, but throwing me and a bunch of alcohol and some white powder from South America into the mix and it’s a f—–g circus for sure. I can remember how stoked Brad was to see Louie, and how killer some of the shows were, and how terrible some of them were as well. What I also recall was seeing how special the band really was. On any given day, when Eric, Bud, & Brad were all in sync, it was simply the most beautiful music I have ever heard.
You performed with Corn Doggy Dog, how many albums did you release?
We made two albums. Most were Falling Idols songs we covered, a few originals, and certainly some offbeat-bumout adult film related tunes like “The Courtship of Eddie’s M-Head” and “Pull Some Wood.”
Your book, “Dying for Triplicate” is an amazing tale of your life, how have things
changed for you now?
Well, I am clean and sober now for one. Life has changed in a lot of ways, but being sober I thought was just about quitting drugs and alcohol, but that’s just the beginning of what recovery is really about.
What drove you to write “Dying for Triplicate”?
A lot of people who work at the rehab facility I was admitted to would say things like, “People have got to hear about your story of pill addiction, there was no way we thought a mess like you could ever get through it.” So, after hearing that a bunch of times I put the pen to paper and started writing.
What has been the reaction from people who have read your book?
Overall the reaction has been very positive and warm. I have received email from people as far away as Australia, Ireland, and Canada saying things like, “Your story really helped me understand this addiction” or “I read your book and I feel like I too can do it, I am checking into rehab this week.” Stuff like that is priceless to me, and when I get messages from those same people saying that either they or their loved one is clean and sober for 90 days or whatever it moves me.
For me, your book was a true interpretation of what life was like growing up in Long Beach back then, but it inspires those who read it, was this your intention?
My only intention was to paint a picture of all the crap I went through in my addiction, including the good, bad, and the ugly. And 95% of my addiction was very bad, and very ugly. In no way do I want to glorify the usage of drugs.
Is “Dying for Triplicate” going to be made into a movie and if so, who would you like to play you?
A screenplay is in the works with a credible screenwriter from Canada, who approached me after reading the book. Who knows if it will ever be made into a movie or not. It all depends on the strength of the script. Since Rodney Dangerfield and Chris Penn are dead, I am not sure who would play myself, I think Woody Harrelson would be perfect though!
You lived on yogurt and granola for most of your addiction, can you eat it now?
I wouldn’t say I lived on it, but I ate truckloads of it, and no, I don’t eat it now.
There is a video of you on YouTube where you are pro-legalizing marijuana, as someone with a former addiction, can you explain how marijuana would be beneficial, and not addicting?
Let me clarify this. My point in that video interview, was that more people will drink and drive and kill other people from their intoxication than those who smoke weed. I don’t smoke weed, but I also don’t know of any crimes lately that involved a guy holding up a bank after taking three bong rips. But you sure as hell are hearing about murders and pharmacies being robbed for more pills and stuff like that. Last, I have known a few people in the chronic, latent stages of Leukemia, and the marijuana helped them tremendously with their pain. So, I believe it should be taxed and legalized for people with legitimate medical conditions.
Surfing is one of your passions, what are some of your favorite spots?
I live in San Clemente, so I love surfing State Park, 204’s, and Trestles. But my favorite spots for sure would be in mainland Mexico. Lots of open space, lots of good tacos, and riding a few waves with a good bro, and it just doesn’t get much better. Going back to mainland Mex soon!
Do you still follow the local scene and where do you see it heading?
I actually don’t follow it at all. Long Beach still has some of the best musicians anywhere, I know Bert Susanka told me about this guy who I think sings for Zen Robbi, and he played me a tape, he has an amazing voice, for sure. But I do more reading and writing these days, and don’t spend much time at clubs unless CDD is playing or Peter North and the 5 Ropers.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Hopefully a guy who did his best to turn his life around, and more important, helped out some people to turn their lives around as well.
Do you have any advice to young kids trying to play and music a career?
If it’s your passion do it. Just be prepared to be really poor for a really long time.
Do you have any last words?
Yes. Where is Captain Beefheart & Sneaky Pete?