“Fashion is a lot like music, it’s a form of art, something that brings people together and something that doesn’t had to be spoken!” – Sam Kiszka
It’s been a while since I was on a rush to my interview with Jake, Josh, Sam and Danny. I was running a little bit late and so I apologized for it. ‘No worries, we’re always late, too’ said Josh and I explained that it must have something to do with being an artist and that I work as a fashion designer and stylist, besides from running smoke and echoes, as well and Josh replied ‘Oh I love fashion’ and ‘Fashion is always late’ with a smile on his face.
Greta Van Fleet are a Rock’n’Roll 4 piece from Michigan. The band consists of the twins Josh Kiszka (vocals) and Jake Kiszka (guitar), their younger brother Samuel (Sam) Kiszka (bass and keys) and Daniel (Danny) Wagner (drums).
Talking about Berlin as London’s little sister when it comes to fashion, and about Stockholm they’ve been to on the one and only sunny day of the year we also talked about flea markets and about that infamous one around the corner of the venue they’ve played at Mauerpark and that it’s very touristic.
Sam: We’re used to it, we live in a tourist town.
Josh: Little Bavaria they call it!
Sam: Michigan is a little Bavaria.
Which brings us to the next question! You already played in Munich, which is in Bavaria, how did it feel to be in ‘the real Bavaria’ and was there any difference between the crowds back home and the German audience (in Munich)?
Josh: Well it’s entirely different in all sense (laughs)
Danny: The citizens are authentic, that’s the only thing we didn’t really have growing up. I mean we have the town, we have the tourists.
Josh: But we’re all from Michigan! The crowds here, especially in Germany, seem really into it, very animated, which is always great to see. My concern is that they are a little bit more reserved here.
What’s your favourite song to play live (at the moment)?
Jake: ‘Edge Of Darkness’!
Sam: I would also say ‘Edge Of Darkness’ or ‘Black Smoke Rising’.
Danny: ‘Lover Leaver’, always.
Josh: As a singer it’s a weird perspective. I don’t know. It depends on how the audience is responding to a song for me.. Oh boy! I really love ‘Black Smoke Rising’ as a song, so to play that is fun, you know. Also ‘Flower Power’ and the way that people feel and respond to it. Even some of the stuff that hasn’t been released yet at all, like ‘The One’ is fun to perform as a singer. But it’s hard to say, because all the stuff is fun!
What’s your biggest inspiration for your music besides from the classic 70’s rock band legends?
Josh: I love that you ask the question! Because everyone else ask us.. you know.. the opposite of that.. (laughter filled the room again)
Danny: That’s good! We listen to folk..
Josh: Holy crap, we listen to so much more than classic rock, it’s unbelievable.
Danny: African music..
Sam: We pretty much listen to no classic rock at all..
Josh: I wouldn’t say we do listen to classic rock music, but we’ve heard it all (laughs)
Sam: Lately as a group I think we can all say we’ve been really loving Jenny Mitchell..
Josh: .. Joni Mitchell, yeah and John Denver – I’ve been listening to a lot of new stuff that I didn’t know he had out.
Sam: Because as far as classic rock goes, like Rock’N’Roll songs in general, usually it has a very characteristic dynamic to what instrument are being played and to what the road of sound is. But when you get down to it, a lot of the times, they are not very well written songs, not very good songs.
Josh: Music is music, good music is good music! I feel like Rock’n’Roll is just an amalgamation or a prettified version of all these different genres. And that’s why I feel like today there’s not a lot of really good Rock’n’Roll, in my opinion. The influences are just Rock’n’Roll to make Rock’n’Roll is not really like..
Jake: Also some contemporary stuff..
Sam: Grizzly Bear..
Josh: ..Grizzly Bear is great. Fleet Foxes are incredible. First Aid Kid, Florence And The Machine, Adele .. there’s a lot of incredible stuff we’re listen to!
I heard the ‘Adele’ cover of yours, it’s interesting!
Josh: Was it? Well I absolutely hated it, that piece of shit.
But besides from music, what inspires you for writing songs and making music? I heard that you’re interested in film and stuff, Josh.
Jake: We kinda grew up in a household, that wasn’t necessarily just musically sort of or artistically overall kind of free to explore. We had film and we had literature..
Josh: We were the kids, running through the woods, covered in all kinds of paint or some strange shit like that..
Danny: ..and mud!
I can imagine, I grew up in the middle of nowhere, in the countryside!
Josh: That’s fantastic!
Sam: Can you imagine growing up anywhere else?
Like in Berlin? Nah I can’t!
(laughter filled the room and Jake tried to focus on my question)
Jake: A lot of literature inspired us, even lyrically and musically a lot of things. And in a lot of film. There are a lot of cinematic aspects to what we do in the art and the music. And we listen to a lot of scores and film sound tracks and things like that, too. So some of these things are influences out of music.
Josh: Well initially, I wanted to be a film maker, I still do! That’s really what I was doing for a long long time before this actually really happened, you know (laughs), something I could do and would do, ‘cause it’s really fun and I didn’t really see myself in it as a professional or for me as a career out of it. But here we are and there’s a lot of cinematic elements that I can incorporate into to whole Greta Van Fleet universe, that we’re building.
So you, Josh, wanted to be a film maker. What about the others, have you ever thought of doing something else, like becoming a chef or a teacher or something like that, when you were younger?
Sam: Yeah I mean, I always wanted to play guitar (laughs).
Danny: I always wanted to be a shoe maker, but the biggest problem I ran into, I din’t have the ability to travel and to give my shoes to the people, but now I can.
Sam: What about golf?
Danny: I was a big golfer, I wanted to be a golfer. This is actually true!
Josh: You’re into cooking, Jake..
Jake: Yeah I was really into the culinary arts. Our dad’s a chemist, so you know I grew up watching him cook and things like that.
Sam: .. a little bit of nitroglycerine.. (laughs)
Jake: I really wanted to be an artists, I really wanted to write books, too.
Josh: No matter what I was gonna do, it would always have writing corporated into it, like as a film maker. I wanted to be a journalist for a bit, but that would be a lot of writing..
Sam: .. she knows! (laughter)
Do you have any childhood heroes?
Jake: Robin Hood, that was mine and Zorro.
Sam: My father is a big one for me..
Josh: That’s cliché (laughs)!
Sam: It’s cliché, but he’s one of the guys he always finds a solution and something no matter what the problem is. He’s just one of the guys you feel very comfortable putting yourself in any situation.
Danny: He’s that kinda guy, when something’s broken, you just don’t throw it away, you fix it.
Sam: It’s pretty bad ass!
What’s on your iPod/MP3?
Sam: Well let’s see on my phone..
Josh: For me, I love all kinds of different stuff. I love Polynesian music as well, I love the African tribes and stuff, something so absolutely moving it will bring tears to your eyes, you know. Something really powerful! But yeah I’m always exploring and I really like Blues and I listen a lot to Quicksilver Messenger Service. I don’t even talk about it generally, because nobody asked.
Sam: And psychedelic rock!
Danny: There’s a lot of stuff like George Harrison..
If you were able to do a time travel, would you go back in time, see what the future holds for you or are you fine with the present?
Josh: I’m fine with the present!
Sam: Well I’m fine with the present, but if we’re talking about possibilities.. can we return?
Yes you can!
Danny: Okay I would say I would probably go back just because there’s a history of what has happened so it’s not like a surprise, I would know I’m going into.. (laughs)
Josh: I don’t wanna see the future, but actively working as an artist, I just wanna make the world a friendlier and happier place.
Sam: I’d go back to the 16th century and explore the new world.
Josh: Like some crazy disease..
Jake: I probably wanna go back to the Hate Ashbury scene in the 60’s and just explore..
Josh: I would hate it!
Jake: There’s some really good music going on..
What means fashion to you?
Josh: For me, an expression on an individual inner being. It tells a lot about the person.
Danny: I also feel there’s not really a limit..
Josh: No! But people do limit themselves!
Danny: Fashion is a beautiful part of life!
Sam: It’s something we use everyday.
Danny: Like I don’t have to speak German to understand someones fashion sensibility.
Sam: Fashion is a lot like music, it’s a form of art, something that brings people together and something that doesn’t had to be spoken! And it’s so interesting sociologically or even geographically how fashion changes, from different cultures and things. And traditionally it’s kinda cool as well, because it tells a story of time.
Do you have an indispensable piece of clothing?
Sam: I got a pair of Clogs the other day (laughs)
Josh: Have you ever seen the orange pants with the design on it? That’s something I think, it’s for me the first stage clothing that I think „This is it, this is the direction!“ and I feel great in it! This is me!
Danny: I can’t drum in sleeves, so I just bought vests and go thrift shopping on vests and I have like only vests now (laughs) oh and jewelry too!
Everyone: Accessories! But not too much (laughter)
Sam: How about you?
Fo me it’s a leather jacket!
Danny: We like leather, leather like accessories and stuff.
Sam: Leather is cool!
Josh: I like leather pants.
Do you prefer a denim or a leather jacket?
Sam: To be honest, denim is my favourite material in the world.
Jake: Yeah I love denim, too.
Sam: Denim is important, but when you put them together ‚HEEEY!‘
Josh: I feel like I come across too aggressive if I wear Bikers and stuff, because I’m such an intimidating person (laughs)
Sam: Well for us, if we were all wearing leather jackets, we have to be smiling, other than it’s just kinds too scaring..
Josh: Yeah like a hells angels..
What did you pack in your suitcase – do you have any travel essentials?
Danny: Headphones, drum sticks..
Sam: Lots of clothes!
Josh: Incense, I always need Incense!
Sam: We have to pack for months at a time, it’s absurd how many clothes we have to pack.
Josh: I have a journal in my bag and I write down of all the stuff that’s going on..
Music is …
Josh: Freedom, liberation. enlightenment – Jesus, those are all good!
Danny: Expression! Love! Expression of love!
Josh: Oh fuck love, love is a good one! (claps)
Sam: Music is love!
Josh: Love is music!
Thank you guys, for taking the time to have a chat with us. You should really try to catch Greta Van Fleet playing live, as their shows are really energetic and powerful itself. For tour dates and more check out their website! We’re pretty sure to hear a lot more from those 4 lads in the near future and are looking forward to hear new tunes, to hang with Josh, Jake, Sam and Danny again, to shoot some more rad polaroids and to have many more laughs!
xx smoke and echoes