Rock History

Ranking John Garcia’s Guest Appearances: From Karma to Burn to Danko Jones

There aren’t many in the Stoner Rock space who’ve had a career like John Garcia. Best known as the lead singer for Kyuss until the group disbanded in 1996, Garcia went on to found Slo Burn and Unida before joining the Hermano project. More recently, John Garcia joined former Kyuss members Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri on a sort of Kyuss reunion project called Vista Chino. 

Although none of his projects have ignited quite the same fanfare as Kyuss, John Garcia’s voice has been a prized instrument for many up-and-coming bands in the Stoner Rock genre. 

Full disclosure: You may expect to hear a rush of Stoner Rock over these songs, but you’d be wrong. John Garcia has lent his vocals to multiple genres. 

11. ‘Two Times’ – Karma to Burn

Song: “Two Times”
Album: Appalachian Incantation
Artist: Karma to Burn
Year: 2010
Back in 1997, Karma to Burn was primed for its first record deal—until Roadrunner Records insisted their contract was only valid if that had a singer on their album. The band signed Jay Jarosz long enough to release Karma to Burn, then double-downed on its commitment to being an instrumental act. In the years since, Karma to Burn has occasionally delighted with guest vocalists. “Two Times” opens like an instrumental—the song doesn’t settle into a rhythm until 2:15. But, man, when that riff finally enters the fray… Apart from the long, meandering introduction, “Two Times” is classic John Garcia: heavy, earth-rattling riffs grooving under his sugary vocals. Although a decent song in it’s own right, we’ve bumped it too the last spot for its lack of structure.

10. ‘Jesus Beater’ – Orange Goblin

Song: “Jesus Beater”
Album: Coupe de Grace
Artist: Orange Goblin
Year: 2007
Outside of the ballsy, delightful riffing in the chorus, “Jesus Beater” is bluesy in its simplicity: riff, vocals, riff, vocals, riff. Alternating vocal duties between John Garcia and Ben Ward propels the song forward. It lands in the 10th slot only because of the intense competition in the rest of the list.

9. ‘The Last Train’ – Mondo Generator

Song: “The Last Train”
Album: Hell Comes to Your Heart
Artist: Mondo Generator
Year: 2012
When Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri formed Mondo Generator in 1997, it was immediately established as an outlet for some of the Kyuss alum (including Josh Homme and Brant Bjork) and other friends to make guest appearances. When “The Last Train” was released 15 years later, it was another sort of mini-reunion for Nick Oliveri, Josh Homme, and John Garcia. Nick Oliveri’s vocals have always been marked by a growl that can cut through steel, but it’s Josh Homme’s signature guitar soloing that steals the show. Perhaps inspired by Nick Oliveri, you’ll hear plenty of snarl in John Garcia’s voice after the 2:40 mark. 

8. ‘White Walls’ – Waxy

Song: “White Walls”
Album: Chainsaw Holiday
Artist: Waxy
Year: 2007
A latecomer to the Palm Desert scene, Waxy was founded in 2005. They took the extra time to learn plenty from the industry leaders before them. You’ll hear plenty of similarities to other acts (we hear some connections to Hermano’s “Hard Working Wall”), but the boys develop enough of these own sound to be original.

7. ‘Forest for the Trees’ – Danko Jones

Song: “Forest for the Trees”
Album: Never too Loud
Artist: Danko Jones
Year: 2008
Danko Jones has always been a Hard Rock act with some Alt tendencies, and that has given them the room to experiment here and there. “Forest for the Trees” offers an interesting layered vocal approach between Pete Stahl (formerly of the Punk band Scream), Danko Jones, and John Garcia. The result is a solid emotive Rock tune. 

6. ‘Love Song’ – Misdemeanor

Song: “Love Song”
Album: Five Wheel Drive EP
Artist: Misdemeanor
Year: 1999
An all-female Stoner Rock band from Sweden, the crew snagged John Garcia in the late ‘90s long enough to get his vocals onto their Five Wheel Drive EP. With its relentless riffing and pounding drums, “Love Song” shows hints of John Garcia’s Slo Burn days. Classic Stoner Rock goodness.

5. ‘Made of Rats’ – Orange Goblin

Song: “Made of Rats”
Album: Coupe de Grace
Artist: Orange Goblin
Year: 2007
“Made of Rats” is perhaps the most intriguing song on the list for all of its dichotomies. Ben Ward’s harsh vocals complement Garcia’s pipes perfectly, and the guitar work alternates between grinding riffs and soft, introspective interludes. Two songs in one, “Made of Rats” is worth a listen. It’s also an ear worm—don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming it later.

4. ‘Diggin a Hole’ – Arsenal

Song: “Diggin a Hole”
Album: Lotuk
Artist: Arsenal
Year: 2008
It’s hard to sum up Arsenal in a few words. They’re electronic, that’s for sure. They’re also acoustic. But they’re a hundred other things, and they sound like a hundred other acts. Even so, the Belgian band has always blazed its own path, even if that means offering a wide variety of genres and styles on a single album. “Diggin a Hole” is a soft acoustic song with some electric work mixed in. It’s light, it’s sad, it’s hopeful, and it’s unlike anything else we’ve heard John Garcia in—including his mostly acoustic solo album The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues. To be perfectly honest, it’s a great fit for the guy who rose to fame handling the mic for Kyuss. 

3. ‘Born too Slow’ – The Crystal Method

Song: “Born too Slow”
Album: Legion of Boom
Artist: The Crystal Method
Year: 2004
Somewhere far off in an alternate universe, John Garcia is an electronic artist creating the hottest rave music. Back on earth in the reality we call home, John Garcia teamed up with electronic act The Crystal Method to record “Born too Slow,” a song that’s as house-friendly as Daft Punk and industrial as Nine Inch Nails. Pair all of that with an awesome music video, and you have our No. 3 pick.

2. ‘Not a Man’ – Arsenal

Song: “Not a Man”
Album: Lotuk
Artist: Arsenal
Year: 2008
If you had told us one of our favorite John Garcia guest appearances would be with a Pop Rock band from Brussels, we would have laughed. But we can’t deny the truth: We played this song on repeat after the first listen. If you ever wanted to hear what the Killers or the Postal Service would sound like with John Garcia at the helm, “Not a Man” may be the closest you ever get. It’s also a surprisingly wonderful pairing for John Garcia. Almost makes us wonder how his career would have been different (and Stoner Rock in general) if he had joined a different band back in his high school days…

1. ‘Invisible’ – Danko Jones

Song: “Invisible”
Album: Sleep is the Enemy
Artist: Danko Jones
Year: 2006
‘Invisible’ is a classic Danko Jones song. It’s fast, it riffs hard, and it’s packed with humor (“I’ll break my dick just for you / I’ll make my momma cry”). Even better, Danko Jones and John Garcia’s vocals blend perfectly, delivering a layered attack that’s as infectious as it is enjoyable. Speaking of enjoyment, John Garcia sounds like he’s having a blast, which only makes us love the song even more. Although it’s not Stoner Rock, it may be the best song that John Garcia has attached his name outside of his own projects.

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