|Healing Sixes are:
Doug Henthorn Guitar/Vocals
Jason Bonham Drums/Vocals
Eric Saylors Guitar/Vocals
Chuck (Chaz) Winzenread Bass
Commentary by David Linquist
October 3, 2000
Jason Bonham -- the drumming son of late Led Zeppelin legend John Bonham -- finally grew weary of Robert Plant sound-alikes.
"I've been so used to having shrill voices of high pitch placed in front of me," Bonham says. "It's a nice difference to hear a bit more low end in there, a bit more gravel."
The "gravel" comes courtesy of Doug Henthorn, vocalist for the Indianapolis-based Healing Sixes.
Bonham joined the Sixes last December, seemingly out of nowhere.
In reality, the English drummer knew Henthorn through U.S. tours on which Healing Sixes served as the opening act for the Jason Bonham Band.
"Instantly, I fell in love with Doug's voice; it's fantastic," says Bonham, who rehearsed locally with the band during the last half of September. "Whenever (Healing Sixes) played with my old project, I'd always get to the show early and watch these guys."
The Sixes released their debut album, Maple, in 1998 with Tony Medeiros on drums.
After Bonham disbanded his namesake outfit last year, he joined Henthorn, guitarist Eric Saylors and bass player Chaz Winzenread to solidify the reconfigured Sixes.
The drummer's star power isn't lost on his new collaborators.
"Obviously, there are going to be people now who come out to see the band because they're fans of Jason's and Jason's dad," says Henthorn, a native of Crawfordsville. "It's great."
Bonham, whose career highlights include earning gold-record status for 1989's The Disregard for Timekeeping album and joining Led Zeppelin for a 1988 reunion at Madison Square Garden, says he's relieved to no longer have his name on the marquee.
"What's great now, taking more of a back seat, is that I don't have to be there all the time during recording," says Bonham, who lives in the United Kingdom with his wife and two children. "I trust these guys with whatever I've done. I can actually go in, put my stuff down and feel very happy that they can finish it up. Then I can spend a bit more time with my family before we start touring."
On Oct. 16, the band will begin recording a new album at New York City's famed Hit Factory studios.
Kevin "Caveman" Shirley, whose credits include Aerosmith and the Black Crowes, will serve as producer. Shirley also is financing the independent project.
Henthorn first worked with Shirley during a brush with near-fame in the mid-'90s, when the vocalist had a progressive-metal band called Pod.
Despite a deal with Columbia Records, an album the group made with Shirley was never released.
Henthorn sent subsequent progress reports to the producer, who expressed new interest after Bonham joined Healing Sixes.
"If Kevin can believe in it enough to front the money for recording, that's great," Bonham says. "He's worked with some great artists."
Bonham, along with basically anyone who has listened to Maple, observed similarities between Healing Sixes and Seattle's now-defunct Soundgarden.
Henthorn says he's abandoned grunge influences for a return to more personal roots.
"On the first album, there was a lot of pressure that I think I put on myself and the band to make it more contemporary-sounding," Henthorn says. "Now that I'm more comfortable with the band and my voice, I find myself falling back more toward what influenced me when I was younger. Things like Bad Company and Stevie Wonder -- in a contemporary rock context. It seems like a better flavor now."
In any event, Healing Sixes' sound hinges on tight guitar harmonies from Henthorn and Saylors, as well as Bonham's groove-intensive playing
"With the new stuff, we don't have to keep playing sad chords all the time," Bonham says. "We can rock out every now and again. When the whole thing blows out and it's time to find the mold, we'll have the sound we're looking for."
Stairway to success
While the members of Healing Sixes do perform the occasional Led Zeppelin cover (Kashmir, When the Levee Breaks and No Quarter are in the band's current repertoire), they have every intention of making a name with their own material.
"It's nice to be in a situation where people are really hungry to get there," Bonham says. "In my older project, it was like, 'Well, how much are we getting paid for the gig?' "
Henthorn says the band is prepared to wage the necessary battles for high-profile success.
"I think there's something about each member in this band," Henthorn says. "We all share a tenacity that will keep us going."
"There have been plenty of times when any other band would have folded," Saylors says. "Maybe things weren't going well, two months go by without a gig. We just kept it going by writing in our home studios, exchanging ideas and trying to progress."