One thing that you realise very quickly about Greta Van Fleet, is that once they start talking about music like this, trying to get them to stop is like stepping in front of a freight train. In fact, the only time they seem to slow down during our time together is when all four are silently leafing through the used vinyl collections inside the record store used for our photoshoot.
It’s why you believe that Greta Van Fleet are in this for the music first and foremost. And there are other signs – ask the group what it was like to play Elton John’s Academy Awards party earlier this year, about which celebrities they spotted lining the halls, and they’ll tell you they’re not great with famous faces, but instead will describe playing Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting up onstage with Elton for you. “We left after the show thinking, ‘Well, I can die in peace now,’” says Josh. “After that, it’s like you’d have to bring Paul McCartney in a clown outfit or something.”
A similar act of music nerdery occurs later on, when the group are asked what the big rockstar moment in their career so far has been. “Opening for Bob Seger,” comes the immediate reply from Jake.
Despite these humble attitudes, the group do confess to some hefty aspirations – headlining Coachella festival in the U.S., and Download festival in the UK, as two. They’re also not shy when it comes to pinpointing when and why rock’n’roll lost its way in the past.
“Well, rock’n’roll post-1975 was pretty horrible a lot of the time,” says Sam. “I think people had stopped perceiving what rock’n’roll is. Everybody thinks they want to sleep with multiple women, drink ridiculous amounts and just party your whole life, but I think people lost sight of what rock’n’roll is.”
It’s a bold assertion of a young man drinking champagne in the midday sun, but whatever their thoughts on the follies of rock bands of the past, what’s for certain, is that Greta Van Fleet have absolute faith in their own ability to bring rock’n’roll back to the masses.
“There’s a genuine element, there’s a truth to what we’re doing,” says Josh. “We’re not manufacturing this, because you can’t manufacture this. I think people appreciate that because now there’s so much manufactured music. You can’t manufacture emotion.”
“For a lot of our generation, people our age, this is a new sound,” says Sam with a grin. “It’s absolutely brand new. I think it’s a new wave. I think this is what the future is. I think this is the future of music. I think rock’n’roll is on its way back, for at least a decade or so.”
Big words. But we’d expect nothing less from Greta Van Fleet now we know them a little better. Here’s to those about to rock…
Words: Tom Shepherd
Photo: Gobinder Jhitta