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Sound Circuit

Greta Van Fleet

8/31/2022

Greta Van Fleet performs in their “Dreams in Gold” tour at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Sept. 21. Special guests include Houndmouth and Robert Finley.

A rock band formed only 10 years ago has stormed the music scene, creating a positive and lasting impression in the rock and roll world.

Greta Van Fleet’s explosion into the rock scene garnered attention when they won a Grammy award in 2019 for the Best Rock Album for the EP, “From the Fires.” 

Various rock magazines and music outlets have frequently compared Greta Van Fleet’s sound to Led Zeppelin.

Their newest album, “The Battle at Garden’s Gate,” debuted at No. 1 for the Billboard Rock, Hard Rock and Vinyl categories. The band is young: members currently range from ages 23-26. Jake Kiszka, guitarist, told CITYVIEW the Grammy award was a huge achievement.

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“It’s a reaffirmation of what we’re all doing. It was a great honor to receive it, but that doesn’t change anything about the band,” he said.

Jake and his twin brother, Josh, along with their younger brother, Sam, formed the group after jamming at home. They added friend Danny Wagner as a drummer. 

The Kiszkas grew up in Michigan listening to their parents’ records. They cite a heavy blues influence to their music.

“We found that our parents’ music — Muddy Waters, BB King — that’s one of the reasons I picked up a guitar,” Jake said. “Once I discovered how a slide guitar sounded, it really adds another element.”

They chose the name of their band from a fellow resident in the Kiszkas’ hometown. Gretna Van Fleet was a “sweet old grandma” and a town elder who gave her blessing for the name. There’s no hidden meaning — they simply liked the sound of the name.

Playing in a band with his brothers wasn’t always a given.

“I always wanted to put together a group. I never imagined it would be with my brothers,” Jake asid. “It’s organic — a course of least resistance. Playing like that together just happened.” 

In their five years of touring, they’ve witnessed everything from small crowds to fans singing along with “Highway Tune,” shouting at the top of their lungs. As 20-somethings, they see people their own age, but mostly all ages at their concerts.

“We see 8 to 80, from all ages, and it’s profound to see. The core group of our generation inhabits it — it’s like the reinvention of rock and roll,” Jake said. “It’s an evolution of that type of music and the tradition of it being carried down to the next generation.”

During their short tenure, they played with some of their musical heroes. They’ve joined Metallica in Las Vegas. They performed with Elton John and Bob Seger. Opening for the Foo Fighters in Quebec City was a memorable experience.

“Everyone was chanting our name. With 300,000 people, it was a surreal moment, which really made a big impact,” he recalled.

When asked what musician he would most like to perform with — dead or alive — Jake paused, saying, “There’s so many. Jimi Hendrix. I’d like to learn the secrets of the old master. There’s a lot of early blues musicians who were very influential.”

Performing together side by side with his siblings has resulted in little conflict; the band is continuously energized by their concerts.

“It’s a miracle where we’re at. It’s pretty cohesive — we haven’t been worn down by the touring. Every day is exciting. We’ve gone from nothing to something. It’s pretty miraculous.”

Jake said he’s pumped to return to perform in Iowa.

“It’s nice to finally see the light of day and have the opportunity to tour again. We love and appreciate people coming around to see us.” ♦

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