When Greta Van Fleet exploded upon the musical scene six months ago, with a series of performances at White’s Bar, a Review feature spread, and a headlining slot on the bill at this year’s Review Music Awards ceremony, the attention they garnered was immediate.
Not only do they carry a big impact with their sound, which is a unique amalgam of 70’s retro rock seeped heavily in the influence of Led Zeppelin mixed with the soulfulness of Sam & Dave, yet is made distinct and relevant through their own songwriting talents, with an impressive assortment of original material that both synthesizes and emphasizes their musical strengths.
Consisting of Josh Kiszka on lead vocals, Jake Kiszka on lead guitar, Sam Kiszka on bass, and Danny Wagner on drums, these musical teenagers have emerged as a musical force of the first degree with lots of things happening for them as they enter the Fall season.
“Musically we’ve changed a lot since we first formed,” reflects Jake. “Our foundation is firmly planted in the same direction that we started with, but over the last six months we’ve figured out what types of things work for us and we’ve become more independent musically, with our own unique and original characteristics.” “I don’t think that our sounds is like any one particular group now, but more like Greta Van Fleet,” adds Sam.
“I love writing,” states Josh, “and what’s cool is how Jake will pick up a threat and then Sam will add something else to it and Danny will work out something that fits and we basically have a solid chemistry going.
Consequently, we’re constantly saying to one another: ‘Let’s create a good song.’”
While they haven’t had much difficulty finding club shows to perform, lately the group has been escalating their talents towards a much bigger audience. Recently they pulled together their own showcase show at Frankenmuth’s Fischer Hall that packed a sold-out crowd; and two weeks ago they secured a spot at the Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival in California.
“There were something like 10,000 bands that submitted material from around the world,” explains Jake, “and only ten bands were selected to perform from around the world. We happened to be one of the groups selected to perform, so we’re totally excited.”
“We have a 45-minute set to perform, but will also do an acoustic set when we get there,” adds Josh. “If we do well enough in the first set, we’ll play the next day at the Red Carpet Walk, which is being headlined by a band comprised of musicians that toured with Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and other top world class acts.”
Once the group returns on September 24th, they hope to enter the studio to do some original recording. “Vinnie Dombroski from Sponge attended our show at Fischer Hall and he talked to our manager for a bit. Kid Rock’s producer was also there and he wants to have discussions to possibly explore working with him,” confides Josh. “Obviously, we are more than hopeful that everything works out on these fronts.”
At this stage of the game Greta Van Fleet says they can pick and choose enough original songs each night to make their set different and engaging. “We have enough original material written now that we can take the band to wherever the audience is leaning,” notes Josh. “Professionally, we are ready to shoot our guns.”
How difficult is it for the group to balance their burgeoning musical career with other more everyday pursuits such as school and pursuing a personal life? “It isn’t easy,” laughs Josh, “and it takes more time now. We sleep less, but we’ve always been engaged in lots of things at once. Luckily the bunch of us can balance school with music and now college with Jake and I, so even the stuff I’m trying to do and explore, such as filming movies, I have enough time to work into my daily schedule. You have to make a decision to be on top of stuff or else it can suck you under and drown you. I’ve seen the dark side of this world in that sense.”
As for their future direction song-wise, Jake says their music is growing “pretty eclectic and our inspirations are evolving. I’d like to explore Middle East sounds with different tunings in Open C, along with more Blues and Folk and take certain things and work them into our sound. Music comes through us like a vessel and one field leads to the next, so we’re not sure where it’s going and it keeps the music exciting. We love playing with each other and it’s this closeness that keeps pushing us forward.”