by Justin Trudell
Few people have had a better 2017 than the Frankenmuth band of brothers, Greta Van Fleet. The Kiszka clan of twin brothers Josh (vocals) and Jake (lead guitar) with younger brother Sam (bass and keyboards) are joined with brother from another mother Danny Wagner on drums to form the familiar but fresh sound of Greta Van Fleet. The music world has gone nuts, and rightfully so, over their debut single released earlier this year, “Highway Tune.”
The soul-rock throwbacks dropped a double-EP, From the Fires, in November, and they’re coming the St. Andrew’s Hall for two sold-out shows on December 28 and 29. We here at HWID haven’t been this excited for a band’s debut since the incredible Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not from Arctic Monkeys, way back in 2006. As you might expect, we couldn’t wait to speak with them. Jake Kiszka joined us to chat about how crazy this year has been, when to expect their full-length album, arson, and meeting a living legend.
HWID: Looking in from the outside, this year has been huge for Greta Van Fleet. How’s 2017 been for you?
Jake Kiszka: It’s been sort of overwhelming. The venues have been getting bigger and the crowds have been growing, but overall, it’s been overwhelming.
HWID: Have the bigger crowds and bigger venues changed how you guys perform?
Jake Kiszka: I’m sure it does in some small ways, but honestly, whether there are five people or 5,000 people in the audience, we’re going to be giving the same amount of effort. So I’m sure in some small ways our show has changed, but our performance is always pretty consistent as far as what we give.
HWID: Has there been that moment where you went “holy sh*t, this is unreal,” or has the popularity been a steady growth to where you barely notice?
JK: It’s been like being in the eye of the storm where there’s so much chaos going on around you, but it’s calm right in the middle of your day-to-day life. It’s difficult to perceive everything going on around you. It’s been a steady growth. There hasn’t been that moment where we’ve taken a step back and gone “Wow, this is massive.”
HWID: When can we expect a full-length album to be released?
JK: We haven’t zeroed in on an exact date, but we will be in the studio in January and February, so we are hoping for early-to mid-2018 as a release date for our first full-length album.
HWID: What’s the writing process like for Greta Van Fleet?
JK: There’s not one particular way we write our music, so we do some writing on the road, some back in the studio. When we get a chance, we like to go out to the country, rent a house and write for a week or two. We were just in Chattanooga for a retreat-type thing and we were writing new music then. So, it’s always different. It could be anyone who brings a concept to the table, and we all jump on it. Then it evolves pretty quickly from there.
HWID: Have you had an experience with someone you’ve had a chance to meet that you never expected would happen?
JK: When we met Bob Seger, that was a moment I never thought I would have in my lifetime.
HWID: You guys opened for him, right?
JK: Yeah! We did a show with him at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw. It was incredible. Growing up in Michigan especially and just hearing Bob Seger on the radio all the time, we became massive fans. And to have it come sort of full circle, this crazy thing where we happen to cross paths, I never thought that would happen. It was such an honor to meet Bob Seger, especially as huge fans like we are. It was really special.
HWID: What’s your favorite Bob Seger album?
JK: Ooo. That’s tough. I guess I would say “Live Bullet.” Well, actually any of the live albums he’s done are all pretty great.
HWID: I’ve heard a lot of your influences being from the 60s and 70s, do you have any more modern bands you look up to?
JK: There’s definitely a handful of contemporary bands we listen to. Fleet Foxes is a really good one for us. Grizzly Bear and First Aid Kit are other ones. We’ve been listening to a bit of Cage the Elephant and Kaleo. Also, Kings of Leon and The Black Keys.
HWID: Your house is on fire. What’s the one vinyl you grab before leaving?
JK: [laughs] Oh man, what kind of question is that?
HWID: I ask the tough questions, Jake!
JK: Damn, why does my house have to be on fire? Well, let’s see. Hmm, that’s a good question. I think I have to go with The Who “Live at Leeds.”
HWID: Nice choice! You’ve been more than generous with your time so I just have a few rapid-fire questions to end with if you don’t mind. What’s your favorite app on your phone right now?
JK: Spotify probably.
HWID: Snapchat or Instagram?
JK: Instagram, I guess…actually, neither. [laughs]
HWID: Alright then, I guess I’ll stop following you on Instagram… (Kidding. Follow Jake here.) Bavarian Inn or Zehnder’s?
JK: Ahh. Hmm…going to go with Zehnder’s.
HWID: Have you ever yelled at someone “Google me, bitch!”?
JK: Ha! No, I’ve never said that…yet. Maybe I’ll try it on one of the guys later and see what happens.
HWID: Please report back, we’d love to hear how it goes. Something I’ve noticed that all four of you guys share is FANTASTIC hair. I was hoping you could provide some hair tips for us.
JK: Only condition at the tips, not the roots, because it will really kill your volume.
HWID: Alright Jake, I appreciate your time and we’re looking forward to seeing you guys play in Detroit, we’re really loving your stuff.
JK: Thanks man, I appreciate your time, too. Looking forward to the show in Detroit!