Some people know that they're destined to become a musician from an early age. Born in Dallas, Texas, Josh Garza was one of them.
It was in his hometown that he, along with two brothers named Brandon and Ben Curtis, formed a band called The Secret Machines.
With that, an epic musical odyssey had begun.
Falling firmly into the alternative rock category, The Secret Machines made quite the impression in Dallas and the surrounding areas. Josh Garza was the band's drummer, and he used his deep love of John Bonham - the late, great Led Zeppelin drummer who is widely considered by many to be among the best of all time - as an influence.
For Josh Garza, John Bonham played his drum kit with the same vigor and intensity - not to mention innovation - that Hendrix showed when playing his guitar. With that, Bonham was no longer just an influence - he was a lighthouse in the darkness showing Garza exactly where he needed to be and what he needed to strive for.
The Secret Machines proved influential to the genre right away, soon leaving Dallas for New York City, New York. Over the course of the next few years they recorded three albums between 2004 and 2008. That was eventually followed up by a limited-edition live album (appropriately called Live at the Garage) in 2019, followed by a long-awaited return album called "Awake in the Brain Chamber" in 2020.
For most people, you'd think having one successful band and a shelf full of accolades would be enough. During this period Josh Garza was awarded the prestigious Esky Award for Best Drummer from the experts at Esquire magazine in 2005. Just a few years later he was a featured artist in Modern Drummer Magazine. This distinction occurred in 2009 and 2011.
Both singled out not only Garza's passion, but his attention to detail. Far too often, a song's drum part can fade into the background, overpowered by the lead guitar and vocalists. It takes true talent to allow that part to rise up to become something the song literally could not exist without. That was Josh Garza's goal, and it was one he was hellbent on accomplishing.
Josh Garza formed another band, this one based out of Los Angeles, California, called EFG. Here, Garza was able to flex his drumming muscles in a different way as the band was more of a modern psychedelic rock band. It also allowed him to pull back a bit, as the band is a duo that consists of Garza and Imaad Wasif as the guitarist and on vocals. It was a completely different experience and Josh Garza was able to successfully navigate it, showing once again that he was a force to be reckoned with in the drumming world.
Josh Garza's dedication to working as much as possible continued in 2010, when he had the opportunity to play a brief set of live performances with Diego Garcia, he of the band Elefant. The duo made an impression at the famous Mercury Lounge and at The Living Room in Manhattan, followed up by encore performances at The Standard Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.
One of the biggest contributions that Josh Garza made throughout this period - and indeed, throughout his entire career - takes the form of his signature style. While he has never shied away from citing John Bonham as his primary influence, he has also made it clear that he considers his sound his own. His style is constantly evolving and adapting to the context in which he finds himself in. The Secret Machines certainly don't sound like EFG, and vice versa.
Garza considers Bonham to be something of a foundation that he has attempted to build upon. He went to "the school" of John Bonham, figured out why he loved it so much and took what he could and used it to create something new and modern. In other words, Josh Garza may love John Bonham, be he doesn't sound like them. He hasn't imitated him. He sounds like something unique unto himself.
Case in point: Josh Garza's style is arguably one of the most important elements of The Secret Machines from a versatility perspective. He is primarily tasked with bringing the hard rock genre elements to their performances. It's difficult to think of a norther situation where a band would essentially become a different genre were it not for the drummer. Likewise, finding a way to blend those hard rock drums with more of a Krautrock-styled band is impressive to say the least.
By this point, Josh Garza has been around long enough to where he's even started to influence a wide range of other popular bands. Just two of the major examples of bands who have gone on to great success that cite him as an inspiration include the Silver Sun Pickups and Kings of Leon.
On the topic of The Secret Machines, Josh Garza is also a major contributor to the reputation they were able to earn when they first debuted in New York City in the early 2000s. Almost immediately after bursting onto the scene, music bloggers were writing about their live shows. They were being compared to another band that went onto massive fame - Arcade Fire - in terms of veracity. It was said that Garza in particular would settle into something of a "hypnotic groove" with his bandmates before kicking off a set that many would go onto describe as a "spiritual experience."
One of those then-fans was a man named Paul Banks, who had a band of his own - Interpol. In an interview with The New York Times when The Secret Machines returned to recording music and performing live in 2020, Banks said that it was worth "many, many concert tickets to experience something that visceral.
Like Arcade Fire, that type of reputation for being a band you must see live is exceedingly rare and Josh Garza is a big part of why that ended up happening for The Secret Machines.
But perhaps one of Josh Garza's biggest contribution to the world of music is that, along with his fellow band members in The Secret Machines, they have proven that it is completely viable to reinvent yourself for modern audiences, regardless of what is going on with the world at the time.
Remember that when The Secret Machines went on hiatus in 2010, New York City - especially the music scene - was in a very different place to the one that it was in when the band returned in 2020. The types of strange, hip rock bands that littered clubs and bars every night had begun to disappear. Entirely new genres were being treated and new groups - especially single performers - were making a name for themselves on a nightly basis.
It would have been easy for The Secret Machines to become something of a "legacy act" at that point - one that was fine resting on its laurels, playing shows that screamed "remember us?" to all who attended. But The Secret Machines were not okay with that, and especially not Josh Garza.
This is evidenced when comparing the band's older music with its newer ones. "Now Here is Nowhere" - their debut album that was released in 2004 - is in many ways similar to "Awake in the Brain Chamber", which was released in 2020. But at the same time, the latter sounds like a clear evolution of the former - one that was every bit as necessary as it was inspiring.
But of course, for Josh Garza, he's just getting started. He's expanded into the world of film and television, having contributed three tracks for the movie "Across the Universe" that pays tribute to The Beatles. He and The Secret Machines are also continuing to work together. They've already toured with the likes of Food Fighters, U2 and have played the famous Austin City Limits Music Festival.
When you consider just how far Josh Garza has come in a relatively short amount of time, and what type of impact he and his collaborators have made, it's truly exciting to think about what the next chapter(s) in his career will have in store for us all.
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