Greta Van Fleet are just two EPs and an upcoming album old, and they’re already splitting the vote like few other bands. In the pro-GVF camp are people who see them as the most exhilarating new rock’n’roll group of the last few years, one who are genuinely on the verge of busting through the glass ceiling that’s been lowered over the rock scene in recent times.
On the other side of the fence is a vocal anti-Greta Van Fleet faction. In their eyes, the Michigan band are a Fisher Price Led Zeppelin with all the sound and none of the magic of Jimmy Page and co.
No one’s denying the similarities – not least Robert Plant, who pointed out that GVF singer Josh Kiszka sounds not unlike, well, Robert Plant. But while Greta Van Fleet might sail close to the wind, that’s missing the point. In fact, everyone should relax and realise that it’s OK to like Greta Van Fleet. And here’s why…
They’re a shot in the arm for rock music
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying Greta Van Fleet are the men of the moment right now. They’re one of the few guitar bands getting Actual Airplay on American radio. Given the fact that rock is currently on the commercial back-foot compared to other genres, that’s no small feat. But no, you go ahead and piss and moan.
Greta Van Fleet got together when Josh and Jake Kiszka in their early teens. What were you doing when you were 14, bucko? You weren’t playing Vanilla Fudge and Cream songs in biker bars. They were. Greta Van Fleet 1, You 0.
They rock out without fear of ridicule or shame
Anyone who has seen GVF onstage can vouch for what a tremendous live band they are, from Josh Kiszka’s hippy-mystic posturings to his guitarist brother Jake’s old school, axe-behind-the-head guitar heroics. If you’re not swept away by that then, well, we’re pretty sure there’ll be a Justin Bieber tour along any time now.
Sounding like Led Zeppelin isn’t illegal…
Zeppelin’s DNA is in every band that followed. Every. Single. Band. Some (Queen, Aerosmith, Black Crowes, Dream Theater) are less obvious than others (Rush circa their first album, late 80s stars Kingdom Come, yes, Greta Van Fleet) but it’s still there. The point being: if sounding like Led Zeppelin was a crime, there wouldn’t be a jail cell free anywhere on the planet.
…Except no one sounds like Led Zeppelin any more. Not even the members of Led Zeppelin
Robert Plant’s recent solo albums have seen him hovering somewhere between Morocco and Glastonbury, the stadium anthems of the past a distant memory. Jimmy Page’s long-threatened solo album is in danger of making Chinese Democracy look like it was knocked out over a wet weekend in Axl Rose’s garage. There’s a gap in the market for that kind of thing, and Greta Van Fleet are doing us all a favour by filling it.
Led Zeppelin weren’t above a bit of pilfering themselves
Whole Lotta Love? Ripped off Willie Dixon and the Small Faces. Black Mountain Side? Bert Jansch spent decades seething at how close it was to his own Black Water Side. Stairway To Heaven? If the members of Spirit were still alive, it’d be dragging through the courts for a second time as we speak. Oh, hang on. It is. What’s that they say about people who live in glass houses?
They’ve got youth on their side
The Kiszka brothers have an average age of 21. They literally have a lifetime of music ahead of them to make great music. You can guarantee that it won’t all sound like you-know-who.
The resurgence of rock rides on their shoulders
Serious point: there’s a lot riding on Greta Van Fleet. They’ve got a major label behind them (EMI), a music industry heavyweight in their corner (Jason Flom, the who signed everyone from Skid Row and Stone Temple Pilots to Kid Rock) and an awful lot of money being thrown at them. If they make a mainstream breakthrough, more labels will be more inclined to follow suit and take a chance on rock bands for the first time in years. And that can’t be a bad thing? Otherwise, there’s always Justin Bieber for you.