Greta Van Fleet don’t believe in a rock ‘n’ roll saviour

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Greta Van Fleet don’t believe in a rock ‘n’ roll saviour

Greta Van Fleet
Words by Anna Rose

Jet lag is the master and Jake Kiszka the puppet. The Greta Van Fleet guitarist speaks blearily down the line from a hotel in Sydney, but reassures that despite his gloomy tone, he and his band will be ready to rock the start of their five-date tour this week.

Greta Van Fleet have an abundance of attention and loyalty behind them ever since they hit the scene with their EP Black Smoke Rising in 2017, which boasted a classicism in the band’s take on rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an approach that would attract both the title of being the saviours of rock n’ roll and comparisons between themselves and one of the greatest bands of the genre, Led Zeppelin.

Last year’s Anthem For The Peaceful Army, despite having equally as impressive chart figures as its EP predecessor, split opinion of Greta Van Fleet down the middle. Had they hit their peak too soon with their EP? Were the clean cut chords and falsetto vocals as revolutionary as first believed? There was division about quality among fans particularly on social media. “Black Smoke Rising was [released] a year prior to the album,” begins Kiszka. “Certainly there’s an evolution that took place within the group musically.

“Even sonically, I think we had far more time with the recording process of the first full-length album that we could sit down and decide on a sonic direction.”

Being allowed that time to focus on changes in direction means we could see a potential shift in the plates of the foundations of Greta Van Fleet, away from the endless classic rock comparisons and into something that’s perhaps a little more individual to them. “Frankly, it happens organically,” says Kiszka. “As far as influences go, live performance and travel, I feel there’s as much external change to face as there is internal growth.

“What we see and experience certainly changes our writing and influences our music. I think that’s places, culture, people, and new music. There’s a lot of changes that have occurred over the last 18 months that we’ve been on the road. I think that’s a very natural evolution of where we’re at now, and where we’re going.”

The direction that evolution has begun to craft out for Greta Van Fleet has proved to be a popular one – two of their tour dates sold out quickly, with additional shows to be added. “It’s difficult to say why that is,” chuckles Kiszka. “Among the popularity of the music, I think for whatever reason the genre of rock ‘n’ roll has been a minority since the beginning that people are generally captivated by.

“I think that’s an amassing culture, especially in our generation, interested in rock ‘n’ roll, interested in the path of rock ‘n’ roll, and certainly interested in the teachings of it.

“As much as our sound is derived of our influences and our creative perspectives of those who influenced us, this is something for our generation and something for generations past who had a similar attitude or emotion to the purity of it.”

Greta Van Fleet have been described as the saviours of rock ‘n’ roll, despite the fact that the boys grew up listening to a variety of different music. It’s not a title Kiszka believes should be applied to the band, particularly one that ties them to a resurgence of popularity of classic rock. “Not one king can wear that crown,” he says. “We’re not the only band playing rock ‘n’ roll right now.

“Among our peers are people who could be considered a part of the same generation of musicians doing it. I think maybe some of the directions and elements infused in what we’re doing are unique to us.”