Greta Van Fleet to perform at F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre Aug. 25
Close your eyes and the hard charging rock ‘n’ roll and high-register vocal howl of Greta Van Fleet invokes the sound of a classic British band that brought a heavy expression to American blues — a band that allegedly got its name when drummer for The Who Keith Moon joked their music would go over like a lead balloon following a recording session.
That sonic similarity is no surprise as the Michigan rockers have openly said their sound is sculpted around the idea of creating a new chapter in the lineage of the British blues revolution that was spearheaded by bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
“That British invasion is the reinterpretation of the blues,” guitarist Jake Kiszka said. “They took it to a different level, and ultimately what we want to do is flip the blues upside down from the perspective of an American interpretation.”
Greta Van Fleet will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 25 at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, and the show, scheduled to take place in the downtown theater’s Chandelier Lobby, is already sold out.
Supporting acts Rahway and Goodbye June will open the show.
The band — comprised of 21-year-old Kiszka; his twin brother, Josh Kiszka, on vocals, their 18-year-old brother, Sam Kiszka, on bass and keyboards; and Sam’s high school buddy, Danny Wagner, on drums — has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity and radio play since releasing their single “Highway Tune” in March and their corresponding EP “Black Smoke Rising” in April.
The rock youngsters, who sound more seasoned than their years suggest, were indoctrinated early into the world of music.
“We’ve always been in a creatively accepting environment,” Kiszka said. “At every family outing, there was always an instrument available because everybody plays really.”
Kiszka called a yearly gathering of extended family and friends at Michigan’s Dunn Lake a big factor in the band’s musical upbringing.
“It’s all these people from different places, and we all gather. The one thing that binds everyone together is music, and it was a really big inspiration that you could see all these people coming together and being united,” Kiszka said.
Kiszka said he’s always known he wanted to do something significant with music and utilize his influences on an individual basis but never thought he’d be in a group with both of his brothers.
“When I first got together with our initial drummer, it was just the two of us in the garage playing, and I was looking for a bass player and a singer,” Kiszka said. “When I influenced Josh to come out and sing, it was incredible and he filled the room, and I thought, ‘I have to utilize this resource.’
“Then I convinced Sam to join us, and he far surpassed me with the bass and the keys.”
Now the band of brothers brings together their influences — rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, folk, world music — to create something that nods to the greatness of past bands while driving forward into modern sensibilities.
“The glue that binds us is the blues. That’s the fair ground we all get off on,” Kiszka said.
Kiszka said in creating the “Black Smoke Rising” EP, the foursome focused on showing range, composing four songs that they felt would be different from each other.
“Very naturally, it happened,” Kiszka said. “There’s a lot of instrumental talent. Sam plays bass, keys and drums, and Danny plays guitar, keys and drums. I laid down the mandolin track on ‘Flower Power.’ We wanted depth of instrumentation.”
Their hit single, “Highway Tune,” was initially recorded five years ago when the band first formed. They signed with an original media company based in Detroit but moved on after the contract ended.
Two months before the single was released nationally, the media company reached out with an opportunity.
“They said, ‘We have placement on ‘Shameless,’” Kiszka said of the popular Showtime series. “‘Would you be willing to put up ‘Highway Tune?” And we said yes on a handshake deal.”
The TV spot gave the song a bump in exposure, and since its official release, it’s been climbing the charts.
“We’re very excited,” Kiszka said. “It is very humbling to see the reaction.”
The guitarist said the band has about 25 original songs they’ll be playing on tour through the Midwest and East Coast, and they’ll decide what songs to put on their upcoming full-length album based on how the tunes evolve and affect audiences on tour.
“I think the music is subject to the environment,” Kiszka said. “It’s really changed the sound and, I think, for the better. I think we’ll only get better and hone in on what is unique to us.”
“I don’t think we’ve played a show in Pennsylvania,” he added. “We’re very excited for the show on Aug. 25 in Wilkes-Barre.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.