Greta Van Fleet Is the Breakout Artist of the Decade
For their monumental uprising during an era when rock ’n’ roll was constantly ignored by mainstream media, Greta Van Fleet is Loudwire’s pick for Breakout Act of the Decade.
We caught up with bassist Sam Kiszka and drummer Danny Wagner in Hollywood to discuss the entire Greta lifespan, which started in 2012. The young men credit their freedom to explore electric music to their quiet upbringing in Frankenmuth, Michigan, supportive parents and no neighbors to complain about noise.
“I couldn’t imagine being a city kid,” Kiszka reflects. “As a very young kid, this music really made me feel something. There was just something that was so innate about the connection between man and music. I knew that was what I was going to gravitate to. I suppose gravitate is a good word, too, because the gravitational pull was strong. Josh and Jake were already singing and playing guitar. I got sucked right into that orbit.”
“We learned about weed, heroin, cocaine… it wasn’t a pretty scene.”
As the "Highway Tune" duo describe in our exclusive interview, they had grown up only seeing the pretty things in life. Hitting the road to play and record music forced them to become adults very fast. “We learned about weed, heroin, cocaine… it wasn’t a pretty scene,” Wagner remembers.
“It’s like being tossed in an environment where a lot of things go on that maybe isn’t the best for young kids,” adds Kiszka. “It gave us the opportunity to grow up and know a little more about the world.”
One of Greta Van Fleet’s big breaks came courtesy of Detroit legend Bob Seger, who invited the band to open for him at Greta’s home arena. “It looked right. It didn’t feel right yet,” Wagner admits. “It looked so great and huge and it was like [boom]. This isn’t a garage anymore.”
Yet another legend shared a stage with Greta Van Fleet during their formative years, with the young band jamming with Elton John at an event for his AIDS Foundation. Fans may recall Elton claiming, “They’re gonna be one of the biggest new bands of the year. They have an amazing future ahead of them.”
“He came walking on that stage with us and it was easy,” describes Kiszka. “Once he got up and he sat down at the piano, he was like a part of the band.”
Elton was right about Greta Van Fleet. The band would go on to perform on Saturday Night Live and be tapped by Metallica to open for them on tour.
“There’s such a difference between mainstream music now and good music. It’s almost frightening.”
Finally, the Greta guys address current music trends and what certain bands are lacking when it comes to getting exposure for themselves. “There’s such a difference between mainstream music now and good music. It’s almost frightening,” Kiszka says. “I think as long as the music makes you feel good and is interesting and perhaps even, let’s take a daring step — intriguing — then I think it’s something people will respond to.”
He continues, “I’m not sure I have a lot of hope for the people who go out to make, I suppose, generic rock music. I hear a lot of bands kind of echoing on the radio, doing the same thing that they either did last album cycle or doing something that somebody else did last album cycle. It’s predictable and it’s boring, and it’s not intriguing, but I think there’s a lot of people out there who are doing some really amazing things.”
Watch Greta Van Fleet’s entire Breakout Artist of the Decade interview above. To grab a copy of Greta’s newest album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, click here.
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