HARRISBURG, Pa. — It's Friday afternoon and Frankie Muniz has locked himself in with his drum kit.
Since arriving in Harrisburg earlier this month, Muniz has been living and breathing the music of Kingsfoil, the York band in which he plays drums.
Muniz rose to fame in 2000 as Malcolm in the hit TV series "Malcolm in the Middle." He also played the title character in the "Agent Cody Banks" movies. After "Malcolm" ended in 2006, Muniz took a break from Hollywood and moved to Phoenix, Ariz., to be a race car driver. Two years ago, he left competitive racing to be a drummer for You Hang Up, an unsigned band in his southwestern home.
Now, at age 26, Muniz has come to the midstate to pursue his drumming dream.
He looks much the same as his "Malcolm" days, although the hair is a little wispier and the clean-shaven face has been replaced with a rock star's facial hair. But it's his strikingly blue eyes that immediately catch one's attention.
Even though Muniz had just finished an intensive 48-hour drive the day before, he was alert and excited. His words were almost always accompanied by a grin and expansive arm movements.
Part of that excitement is fueled by his need to get as much accomplished as possible. With his first concert as Kingsfoil drummer just six days away in Dewey Beach, Del., Muniz is on a steep learning curve when it comes learning the band's songs.
All he needs for the first concert, though, is to be able to play 10 songs.
"Right now I feel 100 percent confident with six of them, so there's four I have to work out," he said. "I'm going to do it. I'm dedicated and I want to do very well. So I will be in this drum room all day, every day, until we got that show."
It could be a feat for Muniz, who had never taken a drum lesson before joining Kingsfoil, even though he had been playing since he was 12.
His lack of experience almost made him turn down the Kingsfoil drumming audition.
"I've never auditioned for a band before," he said. "And Joe, the old drummer, was amazing. He's playing stuff that I never even fathomed that I could do — that people could do. It kind of intimidated me a little bit."
Adding to his trepidation was the awe factor.
"When I went to the audition I literally told the guys, 'I don't know how you write all these great songs.' It's like I've listened to 25 of their songs. And there's not one that I go, 'That's a weak link.' They're all really good," he said.
Muniz said that he had listened to "Hope's Still on the Prowl" 47 times in one day. That song will be on the band's new album, which is being released in late June or early July.
While he did not think he played his best at the audition, Muniz was confident that he had left an impression. One of the things that struck him was the fact that he and the band immediately clicked.
That sense of camaraderie is evident when the group — singer Jordan Davis, guitarist Tristan Martin, bassist Tim Warren and Muniz — is together. They laugh, joke and interrupt one another like they have been friends for years.
The members are not worried about Muniz's fame overshadowing the group, either.
"I think the three of us have the right attitude and Frankie definitely has the right attitude about it," Davis said.
"It'd be one thing if Frankie sucked, but he's a good drummer," Warren said. "People are going to come and see him maybe, not knowing what to expect, and then be like 'Hey, this guy can play.' "
"I don't worry about it because the music is so strong," he said. "Maybe it will get some people to look at the band. But once they hear the music, they'll be Kingsfoil fans and forget I'm the drummer."
In fact, they don't mind poking fun of Muniz's celebrity status.
"Hopefully (the fans) won't have a problem with (Muniz) being out on a riser, out front on the drum set," Davis joked, with Martin piping in "and giant banners of his face around."
All four of the members are just excited to get out there and play their music, particularly the newer songs. "We've all just been pushing ourselves to try and be better at everything we do as a band," Warren said.
"I plan on breaking drum cymbals, I'll be rocking so hard," Muniz said.
In between intensive band rehearsals and individual practicing sessions, Muniz is going to do his best to get to know the Harrisburg area.
"This is basically going to be my second home," he said. "I mean, I'm going to be here more than I am home."
While Muniz is a drummer now, he has not ruled out a racing or acting in the future.
"At this point I want to be in Kingsfoil. I'm not saying no to acting forever. But you really can't do both. Even with racing, I couldn't do racing and be in the band. They're all really full-time things. You really need to dedicate all your time and energy into one thing in order to be successful," he said. "Right now, my focus is 100 percent on the band and hopefully it will be for a long time."