Jonah Rocks chats to SA Drummer

Jonah is an exceptionally talented young drummer from USA who took the world by storm with his Youtube videos from an extremely young age.

Jonah on stage with Blink 182

How old were you when you began playing drums, and how did you get started?

I was 3. My dad was in a band, and they practiced in our basement. I was always down there singing with them. Then I would set up my playdoh cans and toys like a drum kit and bang on them to music in my room. One day the drummer asked me if I wanted to try his kit. He showed me a beat, and then I did it. My dad asked me if I wanted drums, and he got me a little Ludwig Jr. kit.

You have made a huge name for yourself from a very young age, covering various songs and posting them on YouTube. How do you go about choosing the songs, and what is your approach when playing them?

When I was little, I would watch guys like Cobus play covers and then click on the side videos, watching 100s of them, and play the ones I really liked. I would play songs how I hear them. Today I still find stuff on youtube, but I also listen to Spotify a lot. When I find a new song, I look it up on Youtube and then play it.

How long with you practice a song before you feel you are ready to record it and put it out there?

Sometimes I play the song once before we make a Youtube video, sometimes I’ve played it a lot. Just depends on the song, I guess.

Your video of System and a Down’s, “ToxiCity” received millions of views. How did this feel that so many people watched this video?

Toxicity is a good song to play. I was 5 when I did that vid, and when that went crazy, I didn’t understand all that stuff. We had TV shows calling, trying to find out where we live. It got kinda scary. My dad shut down my Youtube channel for a couple of days to stop the craziness. Looking back, it was pretty cool, cause I was so young. That vid still gets
a ton of views.

Like we discussed in the previous question. This video received massive attention and appeared on news programs all over the world, and you were contacted by every talk show and news program. Did you expect this all to happen so quickly?

I didn’t expect any of that. I didn’t know anything because I was only 5. But it was pretty freaky for my parents. My parents were getting so many emails for stuff. It was crazy. I still don’t know if my mom has been able to read all those emails.

I played with KISS at their meet n greet. I’ve known Eric Singer since I was 5, he’s a really great guy and a good friend.

– Jonah Rocks

You have awesome parents that love you, support you, and want the best for you. They graciously declined all the requests for you to appear on tv on some of the biggest talk shows in the world because you were still so young and they wanted you to make those decisions for yourself when you are older and not lose the “fun” aspect by making it “work.” Is this something that you feel you are ready to do?

I’m older now. I’m 13. So now we talk about stuff. If something comes up, we all talk about what we should do, and if it’s something I’m interested in, then I might do it. It has to feel right.

Gaining so much attention from the public, do you also receive a lot of attention from different drum brands and companies? 

Yeah, I am fortunate. I have been helped out by Vic Firth, SJC Custom Drums, Zildjian, DW Drums, Evans, and Drum Muff. These companies have been really kind to me and very supportive. Everyone is so nice.

Out of all the songs you have covered, which would say has been your favorite so far?

They are all my favorite!

Travis Barker invited you to meet him and spend an afternoon with him, and even had you come to one of the Blink 182 shows where you got to play with them onstage. How was this amazing experience for you, and can you tell us more about it?

I’ve hung out with Travis a couple of times. We’re really good friends. I didn’t know that he would get me to play a solo. I was pretty surprised. It was really cool!

I saw some videos online where you also performed with Nickelback and Sum41. Can you tell us more about how you got those opportunities and who else you have got invited to play with?

So Sum 41, this guy named Dan emailed me. He works for them, so he set it up. He’s a really great guy. I’m a pretty big Nickelback fan. A friend of mine who’s friend’s with Daniel Adair told him that they were playing close by. That’s how it all happened. They are both awesome Canadian bands, and I’m Canadian.

I played with KISS at their meet n greet. I’ve known Eric Singer since I was 5, he’s a really great guy and a good friend. I’ve been his guest at a lot of KISS shows. I’ve played with Odds. They are a great Canadian band. I got to know them through their drummer, Pat Steward, who used to play with Bryan Adams in the 80’s and still works with him once in a while. Pat is like family now, he comes and visits and stuff. He hooked me up with Bryan and his band, and I got to know Mickey Curry, Bryan’s drummer. He’s really nice and a good friend, too. Ben Smith, the drummer for Heart, invited me to come and meet them and watch the show. Tommy Lee from Motley Crue is a good friend, got to hang out with him. Last summer I played with Trooper, a really great Canadian band, when they played in my home town. I got to play in front of like 10 thousand people, playing drums on Raise A Little Hell. There’s more. I met Tre Cool from Green Day, Brian Tichy, Jay Weinberg, Branden Steineckert, and a lot of others I can’t remember right now. Everyone is really cool, really nice. And there’s a lot of people I talk to, email and stuff, but we haven’t had a chance to meet up yet.

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Warren van Wyk SA DRUMMER
Warren van Wyk

Warren has worked with top South African artists, some of them having received Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum selling status. Artists include Dewald Wasserfall, Just Jinjer, Kurt Darren, Arno Jordaan, Lianie May, JAY, EDEN, Ray Dylan, Blackie Swart, Solly Mahlangu, Pieter Koen, Ampie de Preez, Anton Botha, Ryki, The Plain Truth, Nic Rush, Saving Silence and many others. He has taught a massive number of students over the years and has also helped drummers who play for top-selling artists to take their drumming to the next level. Keeping him super busy is the SA Drummer online magazine and movement that he launched in 2017.

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