Gretna Van Fleet is an 80-something dulcimer player in tiny Frankenmuth, Mich., who had, at least until recently, avoided national attention. In the early 2010s, local brothers Josh, Sam, and Jake Kiszka, who formed the core of a four-piece rock band about to play its first big show, decided to name the group after Van Fleet, though they did not know her. They converted “Gretna” to “Greta” because it flowed better. And though they weren’t thinking about it at the time, the change will also help in sidestepping any copyright issues that might have presented themselves as the band gets bigger.
And it will almost certainly get bigger: Greta Van Fleet has only released two studio EPs (“Black Smoke Rising,” in April of this year, and “From the Fires,” this month), but is getting the kind of hype hard rock bands in 2017 almost never get. The song “Highway Tune” went to No. 1 on iTunes. Shows are sold out everywhere. Even Gretna Van Fleet is doing interviews. To many critics and fans, the quartet is the future of rock, and its past (the sound is a lot like circa-1972 Led Zeppelin), all at the same time.
In separate phone conversations from the southern Tennessee studio where they’re currently recording, bassist Sam Kiszka and frontman Josh Kiszka (whose twin brother, Jake, is the band’s guitarist), talked about the rise of Greta (and Gretna) Van Fleet. The following are edited excerpts from that conversation: