INTERVIEW: Greta Van Fleet chats new EP & upcoming plans!

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It’s crazy to think that it’s only been a week since I pulled up to Great Scott with a line down the block to interview Michigan’s Greta Van Fleet. Despite the fact that the band is barely of legal drinking age, the line was filled with everything from kids in their twenties to grown couples in their sixties and it’s clear from listening to the music and reading about their story why such a varied and dedicated fan base came out on a Monday night.

The group sold out the show over a month in advance and this off of a four-song EP that dropped just three months ago. Being called the second coming of Led Zeppelin is a huge honor to carry and the band proved themselves beyond any expectations I could have had. From the minute the talented band took the stage at one of the most iconic venues in the country, the crowd went on fire and was completely wrapped around the band’s finger. The band reminded me of a mix of Led Zeppelin and even the fictional Stillwater in the best of ways. The guys screamed veterans despite being of such young age and rocked their way through a delightfully and impressively long set despite having so little music out for the public but the crowd still knew it all.

Right before this performance, I sat down with three-fourths of the band, Jake, Danny, and Sam, to talk their future plans, the forming of the new EP and the craziness of these last few months. Get hip on these guys because you’re already slacking behind the hype!

You guys have been a band for about five years but you recently signed to Republic and obviously released the EP and things have been going really well. Pretty much the whole US tour is sold out, things are going really well, life is good. How have these shows been going and maybe looking forward? I know you’re doing a lot of festivals, going to Europe.

Sam: I think it’s been really, well overwhelming may not be the word to use but it’s been quite elating to see that all of the venues are sold out. To see the crowd reacting to our music and being taken seriously as musicians, I think that that feels great. So that’s certainly exciting in itself and we’re certainly excited for Europe too.
Danny: Yeah, it’s been very surreal based on how quickly it all has happened because if you would have told me that this would have happened a year ago, I probably really wouldn’t have believed you.
Sam: Would think you were a mad woman.
Madwoman, huh?
Sam: If you had told us that! Put that down, mad woman!

So I understand, this is the first EP out of three you’re planning to release?

Jake: We actually changed the game plan.
Oh did that change?
Jake: Yeah just recently because the demand for the new music is so high that we just decided to move some stuff around and get in the studio early. Then we’re going to try and get a full length out on pre-sale by the holidays.
So you’re just going to jump right into it?
Sam: Yeah we’re jumping right to it. The demand is there so we thought we could get away with it. Give the people what they want you know?

The first EP is about three months old now, still so obviously very new. Considering how long the band has been a band, when did you start the writing for the record? Were they some older songs you had?

: I don’t think we had written any of the songs in a specific correlation or with intent to put them on this EP. We had just been writing all these songs and we have many other songs that we have down and sort of recorded already. In the area of twenty to twenty-five. So we’d started writing five years ago when we kind of formed the band and “Highway Tune” was one of the first songs that we had written together and one of the most contemporary was “Black Smoke Rising”. So it kind of worked out that way, it all worked out.
So those are two of the oldest songs?
Sam: Yeah one of the oldest was Highway, one of the newest was Black Smoke. Kind of unique how that worked out.

How is that? to kind of have that song, Highway Tune, really taking off and you’ve been sitting on it for so long?

: I think it was all about the release of it. Because we hadn’t released it till five years later.
Sam: We were being patient and sort of waiting till the time was right.
Danny: Because at that time, we had to pay for our own studio trips. You’re playing shows and then every chance you get, you build up enough money, you spend a weekend down there. So it really took like two and a half years in the studio just to work on songs. We never really had a release planned until the record label and management came along then we just decided to start setting things in place and it just kind of happened from there. Worked out that we already had spent some time in the studio.

Playing the long game and it just got sped up real fast. Then obviously the band is still really young, I know three of you are family. You’ve been doing this for so long but still young. Maybe some advice to people that are around your age or are just getting started?

: Don’t do it! – You can put that in as a joke.
Danny: Honestly, I think persistence. The whole industry is crazy.
Jake: Play, play, play. Never stop playing.
Sam: How we were able to communicate with each other as musicians was our ability to keep going because we would play at bar rooms on the weekends instead of hanging out with our friends for like five hours. So I think that’s really where our roots came from. Playing with each other. Yeah I think the most important thing to consider is persistence and your passion for it. And sacrifice.
Danny: Don’t stop writing music that you want to write. It’s your product. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Sam: Yeah make the music that you want to do. So those are probably the big three. Persistence, what was the other one?
Jake: Playing (laughs).
Actually playing shows.
Sam: Persistence, playing is persistence.

Then maybe coming up on show time, just from looking at your website you obviously have so many shows, going to Europe?
Sam: Yeah, no biggie (laughs).
You’re doing festivals there, you’re doing festivals here. You’ve already announced return visits to places you’ve played on this tour like already LA is sold out, sold out pretty much instantly.

: In five minutes.
Five minutes?
Sam: Yeah that’s a hundred people per minute. Yeah Troubadour is like five hundred cap but that’s amazing that we’re getting that kind of support. And out west and over seas, in the states.
Jake: I didn’t think that it would be that instant reaction in the United States. Because usually fi an American act goes over to Europe and blows up, then it’s substantial enough to come back to the states but it’s happening in the United States quicker then I thought it would. So that’a another surprise to us.

Then the full length like you talked before, you hope to have that up for pre-sale by the holidays. Considering, are you just going to keep on going full force?

: Play, play, play.
: Like in November, we’re going to have like three weeks in the studio so that’s where it kind of cuts off then we’ll be able to tour a little bit more than release that (the full length).
: At this point, there’s no stopping now. It’s a lot of work but it is worth it.
: The cannon’s packed and we’re lighting the fuse so that’s kind of where we’re at.

About Author


Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.