Rock and Troll

Greta Van Fleet is revitalizing the seventies, classic rock sound, all the while trolling an audience of haters.

Comment sections are frequently the scum of the Earth.

Internet trolls with little-to-no moral decency dwell in the comment sections of major sites, spewing their nonsense and scolding, hot takes. While this is primarily a problem for politics and sports, any major page, regardless of its content, will have a couple dozen haters that feel the need to be heard.

The same reigns true for any major social media post featuring the words “Greta,” “Van,” and “Fleet.”

About a year ago, Greta Van Fleet entered my life when Highway Tune came on a local rock station. I, like everyone else went, “Huh, that guy sounds like Robert Plant.” Upon returning home, I immediately researched the band, and fell in love with their bluesy, classic rock sound, that featured long, extended guitar solos to boot.

Through this research, I found to nobody’s surprise that the Michigan outfit is frequently compared to Led Zeppelin and receives a fair amount of backlash for it. Greta is often referred to as a Zeppelin “knock-off” and a “gimmick” from the elite rock and roll minds of Facebook trolls everywhere. Likewise, other commenters feel Greta is nothing but a “glorified bar band.” I’ve only seen the band perform one time, but I failed to hear them cover a mediocre rendition of Santeria and Jessie’s Girl. Maybe next time!

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that. Likewise, regardless of the subject, there will always be haters. The Beatles have haters. LeBron James has haters. Scott from HQ Trivia has haters. Haters are inevitable and Greta will have them as long as they are relevant.

But what if Greta are actually lowkey fueling the fire for all these haters?

Bare with me here, but I am roughly 82 percent sure that Greta Van Fleet are not only genuinely gifted music prodigies, sent down by aliens to rescue rock and roll…

…but they are also expert trolls.

Here’s why.

1. Zeppelin One of Many

Greta have claimed in multiple interviews that Zeppelin was definitely one influence. However, they were not their major, primary influence. Sure, lead guitarist Jake Kiszka has mentioned “intensely studying” and emulating the work of Jimmy Page, but also credits Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, and Keith Richards. Drummer Danny Wagner cites John Bonham as an influence, but also claims Ringo Starr, Michael Shrieve, and Carmine Appice played a key role with his style. Josh Kiszka has gone on the record stating he modeled his stage presence and antics after Steven Tyler, and motown bass legend James Jamerson is a key influence of Greta bassist Sam Kiszka. The band has been influenced by everyone from The Who to Bob Dylan. Zeppelin is just another ingredient in Greta’s melting pot of influences.

This infuriates the Zeppelin diehards and is a core reason for their social media outrage.

In nearly every interview, the “You sound like Led Zeppelin” statement gets brought up by a reporter and each time, Greta cites a different influence. Zeppelin diehards want them to admit that they are a knock off so bad, but in each interview, Greta seems to sidestep around the question (as I’m sure they are sick of it), and reel off another “non-Zeppelin” influence.

And I love them for this.

Hopefully, they keep name dropping different influences with every interview, to the point where it becomes completely illogical.

“Yeah, I would definitely classify our sound as a mix of Black Sabbath and early-eighties Madonna,” Josh Kiszka tells Loudwire reporter Tits Magee, after being asked the same question for the sixth-millionth time.

Personally, I think Josh sounds like the birth child of Plant, the Wilson sisters, and Geddy Lee (it was a weird night), while the rest of Greta portray a blended smoothie of all the greatest classic rock bands you would find in your dad’s vinyl collection.

Also, can we address the fact that maybe, just maybe, that is his natural singing voice? I am seriously doubting that Josh is like Jimmy Fallon and can switch from Dave Matthews to Bruce Springsteen with the drop of a hat. Plant’s voice is not exactly easy to imitate (well-done, that is), so is there even the slightest chance that Josh happens to sound like him and he’s not just putting on an act? I have my doubts that Josh secretly has the soothing voice of Barry White, but instead elects to mimic Plant’s wail.

It is evident that hints of Zeppelin appear in their work, but they are not indebted to a fanbase in admitting they are the sole, major influence of the band.

2. When the Levee Falls

Last week, Greta released their highly anticipated new single, When the Curtain Falls. Since I have this (more than likely bat-shit crazy) theory that they are secretly trolling Zeppelin fans, this made me spit my drink out.

Despite sounding nothing like the song, When the Curtain Falls is an extremely close relative to When the Levee Breaks, as far as words are concerned. I doubt this was done on purpose, but one can dream.

“Excuse me? You think we’re a Zeppelin rip-off? Well, let me assure you, we are NOT.”

And then they proceed to drop a new track named oddly similar to an iconic Zeppelin hit. A+ trolling from the Frankenmuth boys.

With that being said, I hope they are not done trolling and take it one step further. I hope their next three albums are named Greta Van Fleet I, II, & III. Likewise, I want them to release a pair of smash singles entitled Staircase toward Heaven and Brown Dog. While we’re at it, let’s have them dress up in authentic seventies’ garb while on stage and…

…er, nevermind. They already do that. My bad.

3. Youth Gone Wild (if needed)

The final reason Greta might be trolling Zeppelin fans is quite simple: youth.

Of the four members, only two (Josh and Jake) can legally drink alcohol. Sam and Danny are still in their teens. These are children that grew up in the social media era and are well-adapted to internet trolls. It is in their blood, as it is with anyone between the ages of 10-25. For the last six years, Greta has had to deal with the backlash of haters on social media, criticizing their sound as being unoriginal. They were dealing with this as teenagers. Imagine experiencing high school and puberty, but at the same time, you have to read Facebook comments about you every day from Gary in Indiana, explaining to you why your band “suck balls.”

If there is anyone that can handle internet haterade and dish it right back (secretly, of course, via trolling) it is Greta Van Fleet. These kids were born with the internet and were moulded by it. And because of this, they are equipped to troll, if need be.

Let it Go

If you don’t dig a band’s music, by all means, be a hater. Likewise, if a band is disrespectful off stage or makes outlandish statements you disagree with, please, hate away. But if you despise a band solely because they sort of sound like another band you like, then you need to let that shit go, my friend.

Hating Greta Van Fleet for “being an unoriginal ripoff” is a snobbish and cheap take. This is especially true, if the band you are comparing them to is Led Zeppelin. Haters knock on Greta frequently for ripping off Zeppelin, but are they even aware of that band’s history? There is no band in the history of bands, that has been accused of plagiarising other bands, more than Led Zeppelin. In fact, Zeppelin was recently sued by the band Spirit for stealing snippets of their song Taurus, and using it in Stairway to Heaven. Personally, I feel Zeppelin just borrows certain elements from these songs, enhances them, and makes them infinitely better. Artists do this all the time. Mike McCready borrowed Little Wing from Jimi Hendrix and made Yellow Ledbetter. The Strokes borrowed Last Nite from American Girl by Tom Petty. Nearly every catchy hook Kanye West has recorded features a snippet of a different (often obscure) song. This is a common occurrence in music.

But here’s the best part, Greta are not even stealing from Zeppelin. Josh’s voice just happens to sound like Plant’s. As for their playing style, there are certainly elements of Zeppelin in their sound, but you know what else is evident in their sound?

The fucking blues.

If someone were to sue Greta for plagiarising the blues, than the entirety of rock and roll would be on trial.

It should also be known that many of these haters are the same people that claim, “There is no good rock music anymore.” Well, there is, you’re just not looking hard enough or you are stuck in your past ways. Greta is everything classic rock fans should want in a band. They’re loud, energetic, flashy, charismatic, feature long guitar solos, and they kickass live. Do not complain that there are no great bands anymore, because Greta Van Fleet is on the cusp of something special.

I recently saw Greta perform in Minneapolis and was blown away. Not only by their performance, but also with the amount of energy in the Armory that night. The hype in that building was akin to that of a prized fight, but one that actually lived up to the hype. What’s interesting about Greta, is for the amount of hype surrounding them, they only have nine released songs and one primary radio hit in Highway Tune. Their album From the Fires is only available for streaming and CD, not vinyl, which so many of their fans yearn for. Aside from their July 26th appearance on The Tonight Show, they have only appeared on one late night show, and it was Last Call with Carson Daly. Essentially, a majority of the hype surrounding Greta has been done via word of mouth, which is fucking rad.

They are not overnight viral sensations. They didn’t just upload a video on YouTube and get famous within 24 hours like the yodeling Walmart kid. Greta has earned every bit of their success thus far and have been climbing their way up the ladder the right way. As teenagers, they played everything from car shows to biker bars in Saginaw, Michigan. Just last year, they were opening for Shinedown at the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo, North Dakota. Now, they are selling out 8,000 seat arenas on a nightly basis and playing at Coachella. Greta is not some meme that will dissipate overnight. They are legitimate, professional musicians, that have earned their stripes and deserve the success they are experiencing.

The Kids are Alright

While there is certainly hype surrounding Greta Van Fleet, many feel they are overhyped. It is unfair to coin them as, “The saviors of rock and roll,” or one of the “all-time greats” at this point. Like I said, they only have nine released songs. It is way too early to give them that label.

However, this is the first classic rock sounding band in a long time that has a legitimate chance of making rock cool again with today’s youth. Sure, there are certainly classic rock bands that are popular and relevant today. Bands that were popular thirty or forty years ago still sell out massive arenas for a reason. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that rock is not popular amongst today’s youth, as it has been in years past. Every decade rock made a gigantic splash in the music scene, whether it was with the Beatles and Rolling Stones in the sixties, Led Zeppelin in the seventies, hair metal in the eighties, or grunge and alternative in the nineties, rock has always been at the peak (or near it) in terms of what was popular at the time. Even in the 2000s, rock was huge with nu-metal early on and screamo bands at the latter portion of the decade. All the while, bands like Green Day, the White Stripes, and (dare I say it) Nickelback were at the top of the charts. Every ten years rock makes a run, but we have not seen that this decade.

This, to me, is why haters need to let go of their grudges and grab hold of Greta Van Fleet. It’s disappointing, but bands are getting older and less cool with the youth. Kids don’t give a shit about Metallica, Rush, or Pearl Jam. Rockstars for kids are Lil Pump, Post Malone, and other rappers that look like Doodle Bears. Yes, every now and then you’ll see a child sporting a Nirvana t-shirt their parents bought them or a YouTuber commenting, “I’m 11 and love this music” on a Van Halen video, but as a whole, rock is not popular anymore, but Greta Van Fleet have a legitimate chance of changing that.

Tom Hanks loves them. Elton John approves of them. Hell, even Plant (you know, the guy whose voice Josh Kiszka apparently stole) has granted them his blessing. The haters can either dwell in the past or embrace the coolest rock act we’ve seen in years.

And if hate is your choice, then prepare to be trolled for a long time, because Greta is not going away.

Mark is a writer for Super Metal World, as well as an avid supporter of live music and vinyl records. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @MarkRadlund, or send him an email at [email protected].