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  • Josh Garza: Keeping Secret Machines on Beat with a Bonham-Inspired Sound

    Published on August 24, 2022

    Since his entrance into the professional music scene in 1991, Josh Garza has served as a powerhouse of inspiration. As his iconic drumming style elevated indie rock bands, like COMET and Captain Audio, he instantly gained a loyal following.

    Through the years, his fans watched intently as he poured his talents into Secret Machines, followed by the modern psychedelic rock group, EFG. Although great things came from his time with EFG, the reformation of Secret Machines in 2021 remains the talk of the town.

    Across every stage of this meandering journey, Garza never stopped serving as a source of inspiration for his fellow musicians. His influences show up everywhere, especially in the alternative rock world.

    So, whether you’re a hardcore fan or just discovering Josh Garza now, it’s well worth taking a glimpse into his music career to see how it all came to be. Then, take a moment to listen to his signature drum style, so you, too, can hear his influence whenever you turn on the tunes.  

    Early Days in Music

    Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Josh Garza started playing the drums at an early age. By age 15, he was already making a difference in the music scene. And just two years later, he helped bring COMET to life for the masses.

    A noise pop group created in honor of the Beatles, COMET allowed Garza to shine on the drums and start creating his signature style. After helping them produce three albums through the 1990s, he moved onto Captain Audio for a couple of years.

    Soon after that, Garza helped form Secret Machines with brothers Benjamin and Brandon Curtis. Well-known as an indie-rock power-trio, this group hit the ball out of the park with their space rock sounds. They remained a tour de force until 2007 when Benjamin decided to put his full attention into School of Seven Bells.

    After that, Garza went on the move, serving as a key drumming extraordinaire for groups in need of sweet drum tracks. He played live shows and hit the recording studio with those bands to kill time until the next opportunity to join a band came his way. The switch to EFG naturally came next in 2011, allowing Garza to refine his drumming expertise even more.

    The Big Comeback

    In the years since the 2016 release of EFG’s Untitled 7” single through Bodan Kuma Recordings, Josh Garza has seemingly fallen off the radar. Perhaps he spent time honing his craft on his own – or dreaming up new ways to delight the music world. The only thing fans know is that at some point in 2018, he landed in the recording studio with Brandon Curtis.

    So, to those paying attention, it came at virtually no surprise when Secret Machines made their big announcement in 2021: They’re back and ready to rock! Now operating as a two-piece, the band only has Josh Garza and Brandon Curtis steering the ship.

    Although they lost Benjamin Curtis to T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2013, his influence helped guide their comeback. While going through chemotherapy, he spent months helping his brother, Brandon, produce the songs that would eventually go on their newest album, Awake in the Brain Chamber.

    Time will tell if more Secret Machines albums will come from Curtis and Garza. But for now, fans delight in hearing the duo once again play their amazing space rock creations for the masses.

    The Josh Garza Difference

    Put Josh Garza behind a drum set – and everything turns to gold. From his commanding stage presence to signature sound profile, he offers all any band could want in a drummer.

    So, it’s no wonder that he’s easily moved from band to band throughout his career. Musicians in the know understand that adding Garza to the lineup has the potential to transform their band into something even greater than ever before.

    Where does all that magic come from? Here’s a look at just what guides his successful career in music.

    Inspiration is Everything

    Josh Garza has always drawn inspiration from Led Zeppelin great, John Henry Bonham. Power, speed, and a direct connection to the underlying groove made Bonham one of the top rock drummers ever.

    So, upon hearing that beat of Bonham’s drums coming from his older brothers’ rooms, Garza instantly took notice. But his drumming career was not always a serious affair. In fact, he got his start through lighthearted antics, serving as the drummer to his brothers’ air guitar tunes.

    Once he got his hands on a pair of sticks, however, drumming became a way of life. Initially, he hit the ground running by teaching himself how to navigate the drums before taking a job at his local Sam Ash drum shop. From there, he started learning from talented musicians, eventually navigating toward building a style that emulates Bonham and other big band drummers.

    Always Say No to Fear

    In everything he does, Josh Garza always says no to fear. His first fearless move was asking his uncle to co-sign on a set of drums in 1988. Although he didn’t even know how to play the drums at that time, he committed to buying a set. He worked in his uncle’s restaurant for several months to pay it off while learning the ropes.

    Through that experience, he learned all the ins and outs of playing the drums while finding himself as a person. His style evolved through the years as he came into adulthood, allowing him to explore all the different ways to play.

    As he embraced the journey toward playing like big band drummers, including Bonham, he had to continue keeping fear at bay. He dabbled in the same school of sound of those drummers without letting fear guide his approach. Instead of being scared, he turned it up and created an iconic style all would grow to know and love.

    A Drum Kit to Remember

    Although technique matters, Josh Garza points to his drum kit as a key part of his signature sound. His Tama Kit mimics Bonham’s drums in many ways, including using a 28-inch bass drum. Beyond that, his kit has two 16-inch floor toms, although one is tuned lower than the other. A 14-inch rack tom completes the kit, creating the perfect platform for magnificence.

    He doesn’t stop there, either. He has his drum kit tuned like a big band drummer as well. His kick drum features a tightly tuned batter head while the resonant head stays loose. The high tuning style allows him to create his desired sound profile and turn it up with the best of them.

    Inspiration, bravery, and the right tools all come together to support Josh Garza’s drumming journey. He gives back to the music world as a result, serving as a source of inspiration for many top-notch musicians.

    A True Inspiration to the Progressive Rock Scene

    Throughout his music career, Josh Garza has served as a Bonham-worthy influence on many other drummers. Modern alternative rock bands, like Silver Sun Pickups and Kings of Leon, for example, show his influence in their drum sounds.

    Kings of Leon, in fact, toured with Secret Machines in their early days, which let them soak in their unique style. Their progressive rock, krautrock, and space rock inspired greatness at every turn as a result.

    Due to his impact on the music world, Garza has earned many accolades through the years. In 2005, Esquire Magazine gave him the Esky Award for Best Drummer. Modern Drummer Magazine then brought him on as a featured artist in 2009 and again in 2011.

    Beyond that, he’s always getting mentions as a truly influential artist by his fellow musicians. Just like Bonham before him, he’s likely making an impact on budding musicians as they create their own signature styles. The world will be better for it, too, especially as their version of space rock hits grace the airwaves and get everyone moving to the music.  

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