Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Greta Van Fleet- Vocalist Josh Kiszka, Guitarist Jake Kiszka, Bassist Sam Kiszka, and Drummer Danny Wagner started out of a small in Frankenmuth, Michigan, formed in 2012. They hit the ground running with their debut full-length studio album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, that was released on October 19, 2018, and topped the Billboard Rock Album charts in the first week after its release. They captured the world and were quickly household names with their throwback classic rock sound and the amazing vocals of lead singer Josh Kiszka that many compared to Led Zeppelin front man the great Robert Plant. Rock fans became excited when Greta Van Fleet showed up on the scene quickly dubbing them the saviors of rock music. Three years later they are back with their second full length album The Battle at Gardens Gate that was released April 16, 2021 and the album is amazing. You can see the growth in these young men in both the way they play and the way they write. “We realized that while growing up, we had been shielded by many things, and we were unaware of a lot of things,” says drummer Danny Wagner. “And then we were thrown out into this huge world, and it was a bit of a culture shock at first. But as we started to travel a lot, meet new and different people and experience different cultures, our definition of ‘normal’ changed.” Learning the world and the business can be a lot for these young men as they are still in their early twenties, but it did not slow them down.
Did you guys put any pressure on yourself while putting this album together?
“I think that if there was any sort of pressure it was all self-inflicted, we have never been influenced to write a certain way or change how we do what we do because of outside suggestions, but to answer your question yes. We challenge ourselves with this record and the mindset going in was to make this better than anything we’ve ever done prior to this point, that was a big part for us. We wanted to create a cinematic rock n roll element to our performance and songs, the four of us really challenge each other.” says Jake Kiszka.
“One of the main goals we had is we wanted to track these songs live and get that massive live sound, with some bleeding into the mics and capture the live sound without deadening it. That personally was the pressure I had with the tape rolling, you really just wanna get your soul and the sound out there cause it’s forever once it’s laid down. We have never really done that before we never had any metronomes or sitting in a room being told to just go for it, it was just real fun” says drummer Danny Wagner.”
“There was a lot of self-evolution happening during the writing of this album that was prompted by experiences I had, experiences we all had, so a lot of contemplation occurred,” Josh says, while Jake adds, “It’s reflecting a lot of the world that we’ve seen, and I think that it’s reflecting a lot of personal truth. What Josh does very well with the lyrics is telling ancient tales with a contemporary application.”
For Josh, working with Kurstin provided the confidence he needed to push his songwriting into these vivid dimensions. “I’m always a little bit hesitant about my abilities as an artist; I think a lot of artists feel that way,” he says. “But Greg hovering over me while I’m on the piano, taking an interest in what I was doing – that was really important for me.”
That added confidence is obvious. Josh sounds commanding on each song, stretching his already-acrobatic voice to newer heights, while the instrumentalists fearlessly push themselves into new territory. Easy going organ and acoustic folk-rock riffs drive one song, while another ends in a torrent of guitar noise that rivals Neil Young’s onstage guitar freak-outs with Crazy Horse. “For all of us, the performances – and the aspects of them that are captured – preserve where we’re at musically in time right now,” Jake says.
During every album recording you not only have a great album, but you have amazing stories to be able to talk about forever what were some of your stories?
“It’s interesting you put the four of us dead center in the middle of Los Angeles California for the summer and there will be a lot that will come from that. We stayed in Laurel Canyon recording the album and honestly there is something special about that place, one of the most amazing memories to me while creating the album was after a long day of recording and laying down the track, we were able to go and drive around listening to the sounds we just created. We would drive around the mountains and see all the lights from the city below, while we are just listening to what we created. It was just a breath of fresh air to me and a way for me to decompress and open up my mind to be able to see the album in a different light.” recalled Jake Kiszka.
“There was this night, and this is on the complete other spectrum of stories, Josh was pulling out of the parking lot and some guy just LA driving comes and gives Josh a little fender bender. So, Josh gets out and he’s dealing with it and of course TMZ shows up and starts filming the whole thing and everyone is pissed off. To me that was a real funny story although no one was laughing” recalls Danny Wagner.
Greta Van Fleet has been my personal favorite band to watch grow and develop, as young men they have truly captured the hearts of many and have contributed heavily to the rock genre from the way many people remember it from the past. Greta Van Fleet are special musicians and the new album “The Battle at Gardens Gate” continues the legacy. We at No Cover magazine recommend you give this album a chance especially if you love rock and even if you don’t you’ll find an amazing song for you to bump. “The Battle at Gardens Gate” is available everywhere you consume your music.