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Greta Van Fleet

On Tuesday I went to the concert of the band in Doornroosje (Nijmegen, Holland) and on the Wednesday thereafter I had the opportunity to talk to guitarist Jake Kiszka from Greta van Fleet, the band that was suddenly there. Who with only one album in hand sell out venues all over Europe as if that is the most normal thing in the world. Jake proved to be a friendly, modest conversation partner.

By: Wim S. | Archive under hardrock / aor

Hello there, Jake. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Where are you right now? Hi Wim, no problem, my pleasure. I am in Amsterdam right now. We arrived this morning, we came in from Nijmegen. Now we are doing a little promo stuff and later on we will start soundchecking for tonight’s gig.

How is it for a band with just one release – with only eight tracks – to come over to Europe and to sell out venues that normally only sell out when big names are playing there?
Well, what can I say, it is amazing. We are humble and feel very privileged that we can play here and that a lot of people show up to see us.

What is the secret; why do you have this success you think?
Well, we are very dedicated and we work hard. The success was not there from the beginning. Of course we also played in bars for twenty people. But we kept working hard and were very serious about what we were doing.

Well, a lot of people work hard and are dedicated, Jake. I guess there are even some high school friends that you know, who also played in bands and were dedicated but nevertheless they did not succeed.
Yes, that is true. You are so right. I don’t know if there’s a secret. Maybe we are just lucky. Maybe we were at the right place, at the right time, meeting the right people. I don’t know if you can name one moment where it all started but if I have to name one it would be the release of ‘Highway Tune‘. That song opened a lot of doors for us and made it possible for us to sign for Universal. The success in the US is much the same; we play the venues for 1000 up to 2000 people and they sell out and we have a lot of airplay at the moment. Things are going well for the band.

band imageWhat do you think of the gig from last night in Nijmegen and what will be different tonight in Amsterdam?
The show in Nijmegen went well. Of course there are things that we have to work on, but we are getting there. The show tonight will fit us better I think: the venue is more intimate than the venue form yesterday. Doornroosje was a very, very big venue. What I think of playing at the Pinkpop festival? Well, that is totally different of course. That has nothing to do with intimacy, hahaha. But we already played a few festivals in the US so we know the deal. I like playing at festivals, especially the ones like Pinkpop, with a lot of different styles of music and therefore a lot of different music fans. Looking forward to that!

Can you tell us a little bit about your musical background and the start of the band?
Well, we are a four piece band, consisting of three brothers (Joshua- vocals and Samuel –bass and organ, WS) and a longtime friend on the drums. We listened to the records of our parents and start playing music together at an early age. It is the same story as for a lot of kids who start playing music. We are from a small town in Michigan, a 90 minute drive from Detroit. When we were young kids we were listening to classic rock like Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix, who had more of a direct blues based sound. We wanted to know where this sound came from. And that led us to finding the music of Howlin' Wolf and Willy Dixon.

Where does that band name – Greta van Fleet – come from? It is Dutch?
As a matter of fact it is! It’s long story. In short: we were playing music for a while but we did not bother about a name for the band. At some point we were asked to play at a little festival, to fill in a spot of a band that had to cancel their gig. And of course you cannot play at a festival when you do not have a band name. So we were together thinking about a proper name for the band. At some point our previous drummer came in and he started a story about his grandfather, a woodchopper, and his woman or girlfriend. And she came from Holland and her name was Greta van Fleet. We heard the name and thought: that’s it.

Obviously people will compare your music with bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Crowes and Kingdome Come. Is that something you accept or does it (already) annoy you?
It is no problem, whatsoever. It makes us feel humble. How great is it when people start comparing your music with the music of one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time? That is something that never can be annoying. We are very much inspired by the music of Led Zeppelin and we are totally fine with that. Me as a guitarist, I stood in front of a mirror for hours to practice the moves of Jimmy Page while playing guitar. When people now see a little (or a lot) of Jimmy Page in me, I take it as a big compliment.

Maybe it is a little early but any idea what’s next for the band as far as your musical direction for the near future?
We are already writing new songs and the style of music is more or less the same as the music on ‘From The Fires’. I think we will keep on playing rock music but we will keep on adding influences from the blues, from jazz. And yes, we also add some soul music. Did you like our intro tape yes? Good for you. We do too.

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