I had the chance to sit down with singer Josh Kiszka from GRETA VAN FLEET while at Rock Allegiance last month. Lemme tell you something about these guys; they are the REAL DEAL and then some!! I have said it before and I’ll say it again that these four kids (ages 18-21, so yeah, they’re kids to me!) are the future of rock and roll. Just real, honest, guitar rock rooted in the 1970’s that will instantly transport you back to a time when music was good, and bands played and sang in tune (imagine that). We talked about the band’s meteoric rise, and also about our mutual love of film. So check it:
Amps: Right away I have to ask how on earth four guys so young channel this energy from a different time and better era of music?
Josh: I don’t know. That’s the honest answer. I think it’s just that we’ve grown up expressing our emotion and passion for life through art, and music was always very visceral and we grew up on a playground of albums. My father is a blues man, he plays the harmonica. Music has always been a great communication tool for us. Being brothers helps a lot. Because it’s just like holding a conversation, a very natural thing. This all just manifested itself, and the momentum keeps going. We enjoy doing it, we can’t stop writing music.
Amps: Did you have any idea how this would take off when you got together? Because your name is on EVERYBODY’S lips right now.
Josh: It’s gained a lot of momentum and it’s certainly snowballing. I don’t think any of us in our wildest dreams even envisioned that after just four songs we’d garner that much attention, you know? And now our label is saying, “We gotta cancel show dates and get you guys in the studio!” Management came in and said, “Whoa, that’s not a good idea. Let’s work it out so we can manage both.”
Amps: What is happening with your next release? Will it be another EP or a full-length?
Josh: We’re doing a double EP where we’ll merge the first four songs with some new ones (at press time it is now out, titled From the Fires). .
Amps: You’re a film guy-
Josh: I’m a film FREAK!
Amps: Favorite movie…GO!
Josh: Oh come on, man! That’s not fair! That’s too hard. I love stylized film. I love Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers. 2001: A Space Odyssey is something I can watch over and over because visually it’s astounding.
Terry Gilliam is another one I love. Tarantino’s best work to me is Inglourious Basterds by far. And Paul Thomas Anderson is pretty amazing. I love his movies.
Amps: Agreed. Like with Boogie Nights. You really shouldn’t care what happens to the characters, because they’re not the greatest of people. But I was so wrapped up in them that it hurt me watching them have their downfalls before redemption, you know?
Josh: He does a great job of getting you emotionally invested in those characters.
Amps: As a film nut, would you agree that PG-13 by and large has dumbed down the movies of today, especially in the horror genre?
Josh: Yeah, I think as an artist it’s easy to say that here shouldn’t be as many restrictions or boundaries to making art. And I think if it’s made with real clairvoyance of vision that the intent behind the piece is better off. Violence is a big part of our culture, and to watch it is better than to go out and commit violent acts.
Amps: If certain movies were maybe 20-30 minutes longer and a little darker, they’d be better. Instead they want to dumb it down, wrap it up in 90 minutes, and get that teenage dollar in the theater for the sake of a potential #1 opening weekend and that’s all.
Josh: I think in a way PG-13 has hurt a lot of what could have been much better films. And the productions have become big piles of shit. They’re working some formula to get people in the door and not challenging anything. And that’s the whole point of the fucking medium, to challenge people!
Amps: Meanwhile, somewhere in a basement, some kid is writing the next The Usual Suspects, and some film exec will only uses it as a drink coaster and never even open it. He’s too busy figuring out how to remake and butcher JAWS in the next ten years!
Josh: (Laughs) you’re right, you’re right.
Amps: What are you listening to in the car or at home these days?
Josh: I listen to a wide variety of music. I love African music like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and some Chilean music as well. I love the culture behind world music.
And I like folk music like Joni Mitchell and John Denver. He was amazing and I love his message. It’s timeless. People have asked, “Why don’t you cover a John Denver song?” and I say, “Fuck no! I’m not touching that!” because it’s untouchable, and iconic.
Amps: What are you doing to preserve your voice since you’re gonna be so busy for the next ten thousand years?
Josh: (Laughs) I don’t take care of it as well as I should, probably. I drink lots of fluids, like hot tea with honey, all the things they recommend. I try to get good sleep when I can. I feel like singing correctly has a lot to do with it, too. I feel like I am finally comfortable singing properly. I did have one vocal coach who helped me with preserving my voice. You know, proper warming up and warming down, things like that.
Amps: Looking ahead, what’s next for GRETA VAN FLEET?
Josh: I don’t know. I think once we release the next four songs and give people some more substance, we’ll have some things to build on philosophically. I think the album’s gonna be monumental when it does arrive. And I’d like to be playing to arenas someday. I don’t know what’s next initially, but we’re building this thing. Hopefully we’re starting a movement that gets kids to listen to the roots of rock and roll, the stuff WE grew up on like Wilson Pickett, Howlin’ Wolf, Sam and Dave, Lightnin’ Hopkins (Josh and Damian break into the chorus of Hopkins’ “Bring Me My Shotgun”, then laugh).
Amps: What would you like to say to all the GRETA VAN FLEET fans out there in the world?
Josh: Breathe in the fresh air, and look forward to the possibilities in all music, life, love, and hope. Exude the passion inside of you, and damn all who stand against that.
As you can all see, Josh Kiszka is a young man who is already wise beyond his years. Not only is he a tremendous singer, and frontman, but he is also a very engaging person to sit and chat with. I really enjoyed my converstaion with him, and I hope you did, too. Be sure to head on over to your nearest music retailer, whether that be online or brick and mortar, and pick up From the Fires. It’s out now via Republic Records, and it is fantastic. And be sure to catch GRETA VAN FLEET on the road. Their live show is NOT to be missed!!
LIVE IMAGES: REBEKKAH RAVEN