A diligent drummer’s double life

Torched drummer Bradley Johnson pursues both his academic and indie rock star dreams

Rory Moore | Mercury Staff


Rory Moore | Mercury Staff

By day, this computer science student chases the finish line of graduation. By night, he is the mysterious drummer energizing the crowd from the back of the stage as part of the new local alt-indie-emo rock band that underground music fans at UTD have heard so much about. 

Bradley Johnson, a senior at UTD, is the drummer for the band Torched, joining the group in summer 2023 after years of playing drums and being in and out of various bands. Moonlighting as a rockstar allows Johnson to develop his passions through live shows, creative music videos and singles all while maintaining his daytime routine as a student.  

Torched, originally from Denton and formed in 2021, is a four-member band composed of guitarist and vocalist Grayson Aron, guitarist Nick Giles, bassist Logan Ramsey and Johnson, the drummer. Before joining Torched, Johnson was in several bands both in and outside of school. In high school, he was part of his school’s classic rock cover band, jazz band, marching and orchestra bands and as a UTD student he joined Strings Attached Music Club and started a Muse cover band with some of the members. Other bands included rock band Pax Americana and a thrash metal band he left in December 2022. 

“A joke [among] drummers is that drummers are always in three or four bands at a time because no one can find drummers, and no one wants to move all the drums around,” Johnson said. 

Johnson joined Torched last summer after Ramsey, his longtime friend, reached out to him and asked him to join. 

“I didn’t know about them previously, but they came over and we jammed [to] songs,” Johnson said. “It was perfect synergy, everyone got along well, so it was great.” 

Ramsey said the first practices with Johnson as an added bandmate were special. Although Ramsey and Johnson played together in the school’s jazz band, Ramsey said they didn’t jam out together or bond over music like they do now. 

“It was really crazy how fast we locked in,” Ramsey said. “Grayson and Nick were able to lock in through us. It felt like it came together very naturally.” 

As Johnson completed his last semester at UTD, Torched recorded their newly-released single “Grip.” He said filming the music video for the single took several hours. 

“We pulled an all-nighter, and we recorded a kickass music video, and it was a lot of fun.” Johnson said. 

Johnson had always wanted to play the drums, but when he was younger, he couldn’t buy them because of their bulky size and weight, making them difficult to store and travel with. He initially started playing guitar when he was younger after his older sister picked up the instrument. Johnson got a paper jam drum set, starting his career with the drums. 

“That’s how I started learning drums, tapping it with my fingers,” Johnson said. “That’s how I started, and I loved it.” 

Johnson graduated from his paper jams drum set to an actual drum set and won free lessons for drumming in a fifth-grade raffle. Johnson said that a mentor is great for beginners to learn basic techniques, but now that he is comfortable with drumming, he likes to imitate the way his favorite drummers play. He takes inspiration from progressive metal, progressive rock and hardcore punk drumming. 

“One of my favorites is Gavin Harrison,” Johnson said. “I love how he’s also trained in jazz, and you can tell by the way he plays. He has really great groove, and he doesn’t overplay songs, but he still adds in an extra touch.” 

Michael Hernandez, associate director of bands and percussion coordinator for Plano High School, has been Johnson’s mentor since Johnson was a fifth grader. Hernandez said he’s known Johnson for 10 years and has seen him grow into a talented musician. 

“While right now he’s rightfully getting recognized for his drum set playing, don’t let that fool you,” Hernandez said. “He’s a very well-versed percussionist and can play almost all the instruments at an expert level. He is quite gifted.” 

Alongside drumming, Johnson also enjoys coding as a hobby, having programmed games in Roblox during his childhood. Johnson said he has always loved technology and music, but when deciding a major for college, he had to choose the option that made the most financial sense. 

“The nice thing about tech — I’m doing software engineering work — [is that work-life] balance is great and it pays well,” Johnson said. “It gives me the opportunity to focus on music while having the financial means to support that. Because music is really expensive.” 

Torched will open for alternative rock band Boys of Fall alongside rock band Greywind and alternative/indie band Good Terms on April 30 at Three Links in Deep Ellum. The band can be found on YouTube and Instagram @TorchedTx and by searching “Torched” on Spotify.  

Torched has so far focused on live performances, but Johnson said that after graduation, he and the band will have more free time to do even more shows, record more songs and potentially release an EP.  

“We’re up and coming,” Johnson said. “We have a new single that’s hopefully going to drop soon, and other than that, over the summer we’re looking to kick up the recording, but no guarantee on release date.” 


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