Greta Van Fleet's debut "Anthem Of The Peaceful Army" was a first tremor, with "The Battle At Garden's Gate" now follows a bang: an album with which the quartet from Frankenmuth, Michigan, prepares to change the guard in rock music - with anthems for a new generation that mature genre icons like the Stones, Led Zep or The Who have long since ceased to reach. After all, today's youth - says bassist Sam Kiszka in an eclipsed interview - want their own heroes, mouthpieces and songs.
eclipsed: Sam, is the success of your debut an indication that rock music is just not dead, as is often claimed?
Sam Kiszka: That's a completely exaggerated claim anyway. For me, rock'n'roll has always been an underground thing - until it became pop in the late 60s/early 70s. There is a clear distinction between what is rock and what is pop. I mean, of course the Stones know how to get a rock and roll song on the pop charts - they've proven that often enough. Nevertheless, the two things are not interchangeable: rock comes from the underground, and that's exactly what we love about it as a band: that behind it there is a cosmopolitan community that cultivates the beauty, the tradition, but also the rough edges of rock music. From there: Rock is far from dead, and it was great to get such a euphoric response to "Anthem Of The Peaceful Army".
eclipsed: Are you the saviors of rock - at least for today's youth, who definitely seem to have identification problems with 70-year-old rock veterans?
Kiszka: We are big fans of the old masters, but it's really the case that their stuff doesn't seem relevant to the ears of many kids anymore. And let's face it, those old guys don't decide where music is going anymore - they just do their thing and stick to it. So they've long since stood still - which is a bit reminiscent of our politicians. They are also so old that they have lost touch with the youth. In that sense, what we're seeing here is perhaps a changing of the guard - the takeover by the next generation. Rock music is being passed on into other hands
eclipsed: And that's where you guys come in - you're only too happy to take on that task?
Kiszka: (laughs) Yes, especially since nobody has managed to do it properly so far. And I have to be honest: I take phrases like "the saviors" or "the next generation" as a compliment - I'm not afraid to take responsibility, and I think Greta Van Fleet is an important band for today's youth. We have the opportunity to inspire a large, new audience to embrace an art form and a culture that they would otherwise probably never know about. For example, it's amazing how many people my age don't know who Robert Johnson was. In that respect, it's important to push against that, to communicate the roots of rock music and cherish them accordingly. That's exactly what we do! (laughs)
eclipsed: What feedback are you getting from Metallica, who hired you as a support act for their cancelled 2020 summer tour?
Kiszka: I think they realize that they are part of the older generation and it's their job to pass the torch of rock music - so they have to and they do it willingly. Along the lines of, "O.K., we've influenced modern music as much as we possibly could - now it's the next guys turn." And that's the only right decision, for which we also admire them a lot - just as much as for what they have achieved over decades. Just as a band that has been around for so long and has had a profound influence on this kind of music, on this musical genre. Metallica reinvented metal and made it unbelievably popular - even among people who don't like this music at all. They deserve respect for that alone. They have really achieved something.