Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 89

merging from their cozy
hometown of Frankenmuth,
Michigan, the four members of
Greta Van Fleet - singer Josh
Kiszka, twin brother/guitarist
Jake, younger brother/bassist Sam,
and drummer Danny Wagner - have
drawn accolades spanning generations
of fans cheering the return of loud,
ballsy rock and roll that starts with
a Les Paul plugged into a Marshall,
delivered with an energy that flashes
back to Van Halen, Guns 'N Roses, and
Led Zeppelin in their early prime.

While so many performers today become
"cultural phenomena" via paid-for "Likes"
and clicks, Greta Van Fleet has never had a
video go viral (though 18.4 million Youtube
views of their debut single hasn't hurt). Rather,
they've followed a course remarkably like
musical heroes before; they copped old blues
licks and jammed on Howlin' Wolf songs
(as well as some by Taj Mahal and Albert,
Freddie, and B.B. King), caught on to the
Who, Sabbath, and Zeppelin, and are now
building a name the "old-fashioned" way - by
pushing themselves to write solid songs that
rank amongst the best contemporary rock.
In February, the band spent three weeks
in Nashville, recording its first full-length
album, set for release later this year (the
first single drops in mid July). And they're
in the midst of a second sold-out U.S. tour
of mid-sized venues; this summer they'll
do Lollapalooza, Panorama Music and Arts
Festival (New York), Floyd Fest (Virginia),
and Summerfest, in Milwaukee, then in the

Jake Kiszka with his '61 Les Paul, Bletchley and vintage Marshall heads at the ready.

fall go to Germany, Denmark, the U.K., Paris,
and the Netherlands.
We spoke with Jake and Sam as they
wrapped recording, inquiring about life as
the next big thing in rock and what to expect
from their new music.
"A lot of what we explore is a new attitude,"
said Jake. "We don't want to be stagnant. As
an artist, one should always embrace new
genres, new sounds, new styles, and we really brought out the best of what we can do
and put it on the album. I love it, and I think
all sorts of music fans will love it. There's a
variety of material, and spending the last year
relentlessly touring meant a lot of growth.
There's an element of maturity on the album.
"At Blackbird Studios [in Nashville], we
had everything at our disposal as we tried
to capture our live performance," he added.
"And the songs are performances - live takes.
That was important for what wanted to create.
We put some magic to tape; lots of bleeding
instruments, lots of room mics."

with you; you had to learn certain songs
in order to get better guitars...

As a kid, you started playing with basically a toy guitar, right?

Did any of those early jams become riffs
or songs on the band's two EPs?

Jake Kiszka: Yeah, a no-name plastic
guitar. Then I had a First Act acoustic.
Was it playable?

It was playable, but it wasn't a proper guitar.
My first actual guitar was a Squire Strat that
I had with me all the time.
What kind of amp did you plug it into?

I had a little Marshall practice amp. I
can't remember exactly what it was, it was
so long ago.
The story goes that your dad made a deal

September 2018

89

VINTAGE GUITAR

Yeah, to get to the next level. He made me
learn a lot of Bob Seger songs, some Hendrix,
and some Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Would he play along?

No, he'd just provide incentive, ya' know
(laughs)? I sat in the basement, rigorously
learning how to play songs; I'd get home
from school, go downstairs, and not come
up until dinner. A lot of my learning was
from records that were lying around, and I
tried hard to emulate them.
How did you progress from there?

I played mostly on my own until I started
making [twin brother and Greta Van Fleet
vocalist] Josh come down to play drums.
My brothers were always around, so I'd try
to convince them. Eventually, we had some
buddies come over and play, too.
What kind of songs were you doing?

We were making up our own. We were kind
of learning to write, because it was interesting
to us. But we were really, really young.
I don't believe so. It was just jammin', ya'
know? There are recordings and demos of
that stuff later on, but nothing that's been
released.
So you'd work together to come up with
a melody, then jam on it?

Pretty much; it was just Josh and I initially,
then we roped Sam into it. I'd have a ton of
stuff I played with on my own and the other
two would start along and make up their
own parts.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 4
Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 5
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Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 11
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Vintage Guitar - September 2018 - Open - 18
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