The members of Greta Van Fleet don’t care that some music scribes slammed the group after the release of their breakthrough album, 2018’s “Anthem of the Peaceful Army.”
The band of three brothers, twins Josh (vocals) and Jake (guitar) Kiszka, and bassist-keyboardist Sam Kiszka, were criticized for aping Led Zeppelin by some critics.
“I wish I could say that I care about what the media writes about us,” Sam Kiszka said while calling from Pittsburgh. “But I don’t care about their criticism. All I care about is that they spread the word about us coming to town. We’re doing fine whether the media likes what we’re doing or doesn’t like what we’re doing. There’s other people we would like to impress, like our fans.”
It’s working out for Greta Van Fleet. The group’s loyal base of fans jumped on “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” which topped the Billboard Rock Album chart in the first week of its release in 2018.
“When the Curtain Falls,” the first single from “Anthem of the Peaceful Army,” reached the top of Billboard’s Mainstream rock charts. The band’s followers have enabled Greta Van Fleet to headline arenas.
“It’s all about our fans and it’s all about making a steady progression,” Kiszka said. “We just want to get better.”
The Kiszka brothers – Josh and Jake are 26 and Sam is 23 – formed in Frankenmuth, Michigan, a decade ago. The Kiszka kids grew up on classic rock, which included Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
“Our parents loved that style of music and passed it on to us,” Kiszka said. “We embraced it and now we’re three albums into our career.”
“The Battle at Garden’s Gate,” which dropped in 2021, is full of dramatic, earnest guitar-driven rock, which has as much to do with Rush and Styx as Led Zeppelin.
The album will be showcased by the group, which also includes drummer Danny Wagner when they headline Friday at the Spokane Arena.
Fans have Sir Elton John to thank since he encouraged the band to add visual elements to its show. The legendary rocker, who is on his farewell tour, which concludes next summer in Sweden, checked out Greta Van Fleet when the band played a London club in 2017 and left impressed.
“I’ll never forget that since our booking agency told us that Elton John wants to come to our show,” Kiszka said. “Elton was so jacked up by our performance that he wanted to come backstage and talk music with us. It was incredible. Elton said that we reminded him of Jefferson Airplane.”
John requested that Greta Van Fleet play at his Academy Awards party in 2018. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer joined Greta Van Fleet onstage for his “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and their “You’re the One.”
“If being asked by Elton John to perform at his party and to jam with him is not permission to go right ahead, I don’t know what is,” Kiszka said. “It still blows our minds.”
Greta Van Fleet took another step after the soiree, thanks to John. “ ‘Flaunt what you got,’ is what Elton told us. We did it.”
So Greta Van Fleet is a throwback since anyone can differentiate the members of the band from those in the audience thanks to their fashion.
“It’s fun wearing cool stuff on stage,” Kiszka said. “When was the last time you saw someone in an embroidered rhinestone suit? We like wearing that kind of stuff but we know it’s a fine line. You can only push it so far before it becomes ridiculous. We’re all on the same page.”
Unlike many other bands of brothers, the Kiszka boys get along. The trio of siblings are aware of the dysfunction that derailed such brotherly led acts as the Kinks and Oasis.
“We’ve had our share of disagreements over the years but we really enjoy being around each other,” Kiszka said. “We might fight over creative stuff but we work it out. We’ve been a band since I was 11 and Josh and Jake were 14. I remember how good Jake became as a guitarist and then there was Josh, who is a born performer. We were always in sync and the cool thing is that our parents have been behind us since day one.”
The Kiszka brothers thanked their mother and father after their first album, 2017’s “From the Fires” went on to win the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.
“They’ve had our back our whole lives and that’s all that matters,” Kiszka said.
So it’s not surprising that Kiszka cares less that some arbiters of taste are less than crazy about Greta Van Fleet. It helps that such icons as the aforementioned John, Michigan legend Bob Seger, Dave Grohl and Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant have given Greta Van Fleet the thumbs up.
“The support from our heroes is surreal,” Kiszka said. “We could never have come up with this in our wildest dreams. And the great thing is that this is just the start for us. Get ready for much more from Greta Van Fleet.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.