It’s one thing for a drummer to cite John Bonham as an influence, but it’s another thing entirely for his playing to actually channel the principal characteristics of Bonham’s distinctive sound. Josh Garza of NYC’s Secret Machines, who recently released their self-titled third album, has spent twenty years studying Bonham’s seminal style and pulling it into his own approach. Garza, who says, “John Bonham played his kit the way Hendrix played his guitar,” recently let MD in on a few of his drumming secrets.
“Obviously, the sizes of my drums have a lot to do with it,” Josh explains, referring to a Tama kit that includes two 16″ floor toms (one tuned lower), a 14″ rack tom, and a 28″ bass drum, the same size kick Bonham favored. “I got the idea for the tunings on these big drums from reading that Bonham tuned his drums really high, like a big-band drummer. On my kick the batter head is tuned high and tight, and the resonant head is loose and full of juice.”
Garza adds, “Of course, my drumming doesn’t sound exactly like Bonham–it sounds like Josh Garza–but it’s from that same school. One of my secret weapons is to dig deep, find the cannon sound, turn it up, and not be scared. I think that’s paid off for me.”