Much has been made of Greta Van Fleet in the rock community. Cynics say they have no originality, they’re just ripping off Led Zeppelin. Some even claim they’re just a corporate creation to cash in on the classic rock scene, who don’t write their songs and have to be shown how to play their instruments. Which is plainly nonsense.
They are only so many notes in music. And with the amount of music that has been written down over hundreds if not thousands of years, you will get some pieces that sound similar. Ed Sheeran has been taken to court over potential copyright infringement. Led Zeppelin themselves have been sued over Stairway to Heaven. So in many cases, musicians are like magpies and will pick up on and use the best bits of what they’ve heard and been listening to, and incorporate it into their own compositions. But I think Greta Van Fleet is different. Made up of brothers Josh, Jake and Sam Kiszka and Danny Wagner, from Michigan, their musical taste comes, as with so many, from listening to their parents’ music.
That’s certainly where the basis of my musical taste comes from. Listening to Queen, Mark Knopfler, Thin Lizzy etc. and then discovering bands like Deep Purple, Guns n’ Roses, Mötorhead, Rainbow, Dio and Metallica and exploring music from all over the rock spectrum. And the music that you listen to, influences the music you may write. If you have listened heavily to bands from the 60’s and 70’s you will write songs that reflect that influence.
Where they are similar to the bands of the 60’s and 70’s is that they have four people covering vocals, guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. This lends itself to a very 60’s and 70’s rock n’ roll feel. They are clearly influenced by that era of music and write songs that fit into the overall sound of that era. The main thing that people have highlighted is the guitar and vocal work. Josh Kiszka does seem to take many ques is his vocal performance from Robert Plant, but so do many rock singers. But, with Kiszka, that similarity is rather striking. His howls, screams and higher range vocals do sound eerily like Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin I and II. But is that really that big a surprise? Almost every rock vocalist that came after Robert Plant has been influenced by him, even greats like Freddie Mercury and Axl Rose. I would even wager Steven Tyler took something away from Led Zep’s music. And Jimmy Page is so influential to so many guitarists, is it really a surprise that Jake Kiszka has admitted to intensely studying Page’s technique and sound? Or that that would come through on their records.
Now, I bought both the extended EP From the Fires and their debut album March of the Peaceful Army. And I enjoyed both. Do they sound like Led Zeppelin? Yes. Is that a bad thing? To me, no. Because it means that people my age are still enjoying listening and making rock n’ roll music. And long may it continue.