Meet Greta Van Fleet, the insanely talented group of youngsters from Detroit Mich. whose classic killer rock sound is currently flooding the airwaves. What makes them unique? All ages love them. Why? Two reasons. Number one, It’s that popular sound that rattled our parent’s brains when they were kids in the 60’s and 70’s. Number two, now with a music industry that’s hungry for change bringing back the old is actually new thus making them appealing to the younger generation. I had the privilege of sitting down with Sam (bass and keyboardist) and Dan (drums) for an interview to really get to know them and how they feel about becoming in most critics eyes the next Led Zepplin.
Greta Van Fleet is:
Chimera (Paxton): How does it feel blowing up so quick? Was it expected?
Dan: No, not at all. The way we schedule shows changed just like that (snapping his fingers). About 9 months ago we were booking venues with 175 person cap and were booking shows like this one (referening to Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY).
Chimera: Do you prefer playing shows that are more intimate, ya know fewer people, a venue with photo pit?
Dan: Yeah, absolutely. We haven’t had a lot of those in a while. It kind a brings us back to those first couple of years when we first starting playing.
At this point Sam walks in and comments about the room smelling extremely clean and Dan makes a comment about me being a virgin interviewer and we all share a laugh.
Chimera: So how long have you guys actually been together ya know writing and playing shows?
Dan: Five years
Chimera: And the name? Was it a branding decision or does it have a story behind it?
Sam: I think the name has really garnered a new meaning as we go. Because originally it started out…e like it sounded cool. Because we heard the name, it was actually a local woman and her name was Gretna Van Fleet. We had a show that same day we heard the name, it was going to be our first real show, I think this was back in 2012 it was Auto Fest I believe and we were like yeah, Gretna Van Fleet and I think it was Josh who said take out the “N” it rolls off the tounge a little bit better. I like it because it doesn’t have any real condonation to what type of music we play, it’s very open ended. It’s come to symbolize bringing a little bit of home with everywhere you go.
Chimera: Is there a relationship with who your favorite bands are and your writing style?
Dan: I think there is a fine line between inspirations and influences. I think definitely a lot of our influences are blues based and lot of soul, ya know to give that energy and I think we all have our own inspirations.
Sam: It’s true, I guess we get a lot of influence from the folk world.
Dan: Lyrically, melodically, they way we go about writing our music too.
Sam: So I would say my inspiration, what got me into playing music was listening to Bob Dylan. Then if you listen to our music its really not reminiscent of any Dylan at all. It made me want to play music, it made me want to make people feel something when we play or listen to one of our recordings.
Dan: I guess it’s kind a the same with me I grew up with a lot of folk music. My mom was the only musician in my immediate family that played an instrument. She played guitar and a lot of guitar / vocal music is folk music and that’s what I grew up listening to.
Sam: Puff The Magic Dragon
Dan: (laugh) Puff The Magic Dragon, Yeah of course. It’s literally what I was exposed to growing up so I guess that’s what made me wanna pick up guitar. So I guess you can call that influence.
Sam: Yeah, Peter Paul and Mary Simon and Garfunkel it’s great stuff.
Dan: Yeah, I think It’s the best beginner stuff. Because it is beginner as far as guitar goes. It gives you the understanding of simple chords and progressions and allows you to make those connections.
Sam: Sometimes simplicity is one of the most beautiful things in a music recording. Even the simplicity of their recording process.
Chimera: So do you feel recordings are over produced now and do you try to stay away from something that you can’t replicate on stage?
Dan: Not everything but the majority of things you hear on contemporary radio is over produced in my opinion. I feel they need to give credit to the older artists that worked their asses off to get it right. Like the Rolling Stones who would do like eighty takes on a song to make sure it was correct. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of hard work to get it to sound the way it does.
Sam: And the level of musicianship back then was much higher then it is now. It would take 30 people to what 2 people did back in the 60’s.
Dan: In terms of popularity I think. Because there is definitely some musician ship out there it‘s not recognized I think.
Sam: Oh yeah, there is some really great stuff out there you just have to go and find it.
Chimera: So I read a lot of reviews about your EP and the census seems to be your Led Zepplin reincarnated. Does that bother you at all because I’m assuming that as artists you would like to assume your own identity?
Sam: I think we’re aware of our own identity, It’s actually a big compliment. Probably the best rock band in history. So we’re not going to complain about being compared to them (laughing)
Chimera: So you guys are inevitably going to headline your tour. Is there a specific lineup that you would like to play with or co-headline with?
Sam: We actually had an opportunity to do a run of club as a headlining act with a band called “Good Bye June”.
Dan: Yeah, they are definitely my number one pick for a tour lineup. They’re great musicians and great guys. They’re the coolest people I’ve ever met. A lot of fun to hang out with.
Chimera: I know you guys have been playing a lot of festivals lately. Do you guys get nervous playing in front of significantly larger numbers of people?
Dan: Ever since opening for Bob Seager not so much. I feel having done that it makes playing all of theses other shows so much easier.
Sam: We’re standing there on stage and were in this arena, a hockey arena, which we never played before mind you. We’re looking out and I was scared shitless and Jake said he looked back at Daniel and his sticks were shaking in his hands.
Dan: It was terrifying but it was, we did well, what we needed to do. Now we look forward to it. It’s a perfect amount of adrenaline (laugh)
Chimera: Does that adrenaline throw you off at all? I know now a day in ear monitors have become popular for not only for custom on stage monitoring but for click tracks as well, to kind a quell the tempo increase brought on by that rush.
Sam: Oh hell no.
Dan: No, its all real ,faster, slower what ever.
Sam: Dan’s the one who’s half in charge of holding it back (laughing). But we figure don’t fight it and let it ride a little.
Dan: Josh is the only one with in ears so he can have a PA mix for himself.
Sam: While I can understand and I don’t really condone as far as our music goes, having a click in your ear because it enables an opportunity for overdub tracks but I really don’t want to play around with that.
Dan: There are some versions of the songs that I like specifically because they’re faster or slower then the original.
Chimera: So, what about your EP? Was it your decision to not release a full length album or the label? I know sometimes labels like to test the water first before going all in.
Sam: We did an EP to kind a insulate our first footprints into the music industry.
Dan: The music industry so different now. You find a lot more bands releasing EP’s as their debut work. I personally think if you have a few tracks and highlight one specifically I feel that its much easier for your stuff to get out there.
Sam: That’s why we had “Highway Tune” as the first song through the gates because to me it’s the epitome of a rock song and I think that’s a lot of what we stand for, that roots rock n roll. Although the EP as whole doesn’t show many sides to us it’s very hard hitting and whole thing is on ten.
Dan: So going back to your first question, we had no anticipation that our EP was going to do as well as it did but the four song EP ended up being enough for us to tour with. Now it’s gotten to the point where we have been touring so much and shows have been just popping up that we have had much time to record.
Chimera: So nothing new in the immediate future then?
Dan: Well…We go home every once in a while and go into the studio to record. Right before we went to London we had two five day breaks where we went into the studio to lay down tracks and Sam is um.. (laughing) he’s probably going to be flying home to finish up some of his tracks.
Chimera: So is the LP? New stuff with the tracks from the EP added?
Dan: The second EP is going to conjoin with the first one, it’s going to make a mini album.
Sam: Yeah, it’s going to be like a continuation of the first, a part two.
Dan: Which is cool because it hasn’t really been done and hopefully it will give some shelf life and some tour life until we finish the full length. It should hopefully be out early next year.
Chimera: Any covers to be expected or all original?
Sam: Hmm, if I told ya too much I’d probably have to kill you (laughing). Well….We may have a cover on the upcoming EP.
Chimera: Ok, one last question. What is the memorable tour moment thus far?
Dan: Ahhh! There was this one time we drove into a parking garage and thought it was a ramp to get onto the highway and the clearance level was much shorter then our trailer and we got it suck (laughing) and…
Sam: Yeah, it took 6 of us to pull it out. And one time we stole a golf cart and drove it around after hours at a festival we were attending. That was pretty cool.
Chimera: Thanks guys!
Interview by Paxton Connors
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