Interview with Sam Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet
Greta Van Fleet took the modern rock scene with a vengeance after the release of their debut EP “Black Smoke Rising” in April of this year. Amplified Edge had the opportunity to speak with bassist Sam Kiszka before they head out on the road for their late summer/fall tour. Read on for our exclusive interview below:
Knowing you’re pretty young, how are you experiencing this emergence into the rock scene differently than maybe someone else?
Well, my brothers [Josh and Jake] had to wait for us other two to graduate high school first *laughter*. Otherwise, there isn’t too much different about being a younger successful musician. The four of us are a unit, and it’s amazing getting to experience this whole journey together. It’s very humbling being able to travel to so many places so young.
What pros and cons do you find when it comes to making music in the family with your brothers?
Since we grew up together, one of the biggest pros of working together is that we agree on mostly everything musically. If there are any cons, it’s just typical sibling bickering and stuff. But the music always brings us back together and keeps us focused.
Now, I’m sure you guys listen to other genres outside of classic rock. What specifically about it made you want to bring it back out to the front rather than another style?
Well, we grew up around mostly blues and classic rock, so the style was a common ground for all of us. We wanted to bring the sound back to the scene with the heart and emotion it’s missing in the music again.
Give us the story of the day you found out Lava wanted to sign you guys. What were you feeling?
All of us were extremely happy when we received the call. Signing with Lava was an ideal situation, and they’ve been amazing to work with. They give us full creative freedom and help us out so much.
Mom and Dad must have been thrilled.
Oh, absolutely. They’ve always been supportive of what we wanted to pursue.
You guys are going on tour this late summer/fall. Quite a ways from Michigan. What are you looking most forward to experiencing or seeing while you travel?
I would have to say I’m most excited to see Paris when we go on a week-long European run later on. But it’ll also be great to experience different parts of the States that I’ve never gotten to experience, as well.
You play bass in GVF, but I know you play several other instruments as well. Which, out of those, is your favorite to pick up and why?
I like playing keys, but my favorite would have to be acoustic guitar. I like being able to feel around the frets and move my fingers around for different chords. Makes it a lot easier to write music.
I feel like playing keys is a little more confusing when it comes to figuring out the music writing. Different clefs for each hand.
Actually, I don’t really know how to read music. Learned by ear and practice more than anything. Wish I knew how to read it, though.
Now, the band burst into the press alerts fairly quickly. Would you, personally, say your explosion into the industry happened quickly, or did you experience a gradual change in reception?
It was definitely a gradual growth. When we started playing five years ago, the goal was to keep the train going and keep on growing. The fact that we’ve made it this far just shows that we have a lot more to show the world as a band.
You guys are playing a few festivals thus far including Louder Than Life and Rock Allegiance. Which festival is your dream to play in, if it’s not one of the upcoming ones? (Something like Download, perhaps?)
Hmm…it sounds pretty cliche, but I would love headlining Coachella. The name itself is huge, and the crowds for that festival are insane. It would be great to get our band out there to so many different people.
What kind of future do you envision for not only Greta Van Fleet, but also a music career with your older brothers?
I feel like we will always be involved with each other’s projects in one way or another. We have a lot of musical respect for one another, and we have a hell of a time making music together.
Do you ever have any aspirations to take on a solo project someday?
Sure. Though, if I were to do a solo project, it would probably be more on the folk side.
The folk side, huh? That is a pretty interesting choice.
We grew up around several genres of music. I’ve always loved more of a folk sound and feel like it would fit me.
Time to sell yourselves to the people, Sam. Before we end, give us the best description about the band for those new to your music.
Greta Van Fleet is gritty, sweaty, passionate and energetic rock and roll. Come on out to a show and see it for yourself.
Greta Van Fleet Tour Dates
15 The Basement, Columbus, OH* SOLD OUT
16 Madison Live, Covington, KY (Cincinnati)* SOLD OUT
18 Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH*
19 Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA
21 Great Scott, Allston, MA (Boston)*
24 Mercury Lounge, New York, NY* SOLD OUT
25 Chandler Lobby & Kirby Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA*
26 DC9, Washington, D.C.* SOLD OUT
28 Pour House Music Hall, Raleigh, NC*
29 Visulite Theatre, Charlotte, NC*
30 EARL, Atlanta, GA* SOLD OUT
31 Capone’s, Johnson City, TN*
2 Ballpark Village, St. Louis, MO (supporting The Struts)
3 High Watt, Nashville, TN* SOLD OUT
14 The Stache, Grand Rapids, MI* SOLD OUT
15 The Rave, Milwaukee, WI*
16 Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN**
29 WRIF Riff Fest, Detroit, MI**
30 WJJO – Sonic Boom Festival, Janesville, WI**
1 Louder Than Life, Louisville, KY**
3 Ottobar, Baltimore, MD*
5 Funhouse at Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA*
6 Main Street Armory, Rochester, NY (supporting Hallstorm)
7 Rock Allegiance, Camden, NJ**
10 O’Connors Irish Pub, Clarksville, TN*
11 SideTracks Music Hall, Huntsville, AL*
12 One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans, LA*
14 Houston Open Air, Houston, TX**
17 The Rock, Tucson, AZ*
19 The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA*
21 Aftershock Festival, Sacramento, CA**
23 Star Theatre, Portland, OR*
24 Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA*
* Headline date