The small town of Frankenmuth, nicknamed Little Bavaria, is known for its unique architecture, “world-famous” chicken dinners, and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland superstore.
It’s also the hometown of up-and-coming rock band Greta Van Fleet who, after releasing their debut album Anthem of the Peaceful Army in October 2018, have received four Grammy nominations.
On January 19, Greta Van Fleet will help kick off Saturday Night Live's new season as the show's first musical guest of 2019.
Greta Van Fleet guitarist Jake Kiszka started the band alongside his brothers Sam and Josh in 2012, and drummer Danny Wagner joined them in 2013. Kizska joined Stateside to talk about the band’s rapid rise to fame, which he says none of them expected.
“As much ambition as we had to create something of success, I don’t think that any of us had predicted such immediate reaction to what we were doing, and what we’re doing now,” Kiszka said.
The Kiszka brothers grew up in a musical family, and some of their earliest memories include rifling through their parents’ multi-genre vinyl collection and tinkering with their father’s instruments. Greta Van Fleet’s grungy look and rock n’ roll sound have led many to compare the band to Led Zeppelin.
The group’s unusual name has an even more unusual story. Kiszka says that he and his fellow bandmates spent “quite some time” debating what to call themselves. But the name finally came to them one practice when their previous drummer, Kyle Hauck, had to leave early.
“He was like ‘Sorry, I have to go help my grandma cut wood for Gretna Van Fleet.’ And I think it was Josh who was like ‘Oh that’s a name, that’s quite interesting.’ So we took it and dropped the ‘n’ out and that was the name from that point forward," Kiszka explained.
The real-life Gretna Van Fleet, a Frankenmuth community member in her 80s, even attended one of the band’s performances at a local venue called Fischer Hall.
Listen to Stateside’s interview with Greta Van Fleet guitarist Jake Kiszka to hear more about the band’s Michigan roots, their musical influences, and how family helps the members stay grounded when they’re out on the road.
Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas.