Greta Van Fleet Band History guide

Greta Van Fleet Band History – A Promising Legacy in the Making

It is no secret to anyone that rock music isn’t at the forefront of the contemporary scene. Modern genres of music and their presence in the mainstream channels seem overwhelming against the classic sounds that guitarists love. Luckily, there are bands such as Greta Van Fleet, who push the vintage vibe forward with an energy and might to behold.

The band was born in 2012, in Frankenmuth, Michigan, United States. It is comprised of 4 elements, 3 of which are brothers. Josh Kiszka (vocals), Jake Kiszka (guitar), Sam Ziska (bass/keyboards), and Danny Wagner (drums) are responsible for an apparent revival of the sounds of the 70s, having even generated countless comments comparing them to the early sound of the legendary band Led Zeppelin.

The opinions about this band are somewhat divided between those who think they are carrying the legacy of our favorite rock bands, and others who perceive them as a lower-quality ripoff of something that just isn’t as popular now as it was before.

Personally, I like their sound and how they incorporate classic elements in their modern recordings, evoking a 70s vibe instantly. I get why they’re compared to Led Zeppelin, but they also have their own thing going on.

Let’s dive deeper into the history of Greta Van Fleet, and see how their electrifying sonic identity is shaping today’s rock music.

Greta Van Fleet Quick Facts

Here are a few quick facts about Greta Van Fleet to get you started.

Band MembersPresent: John Kiszka (vocals), Jake Kiszka (guitar), Sam Kiszka (bass/keyboards), Danny Wagner (drums); Past: Kylie Hauk (drums).
GenresHard rock, blues rock, progressive rock, arena rock.
Years Active2012 – Present.
OriginFrankenmuth, Michigan, United States of America.
Most Successful Album/SingleFrom the Fires (Extended Play, 2017).
  • Loudwire Music Award for Best New Artist (Greta Van Fleet, 2017);
  • iHeartRadio Music Award for Rock Song of the Year (“Safari Song” 2019);
  • Fryderyk Award for Best Foreign Album (Anthem of the Peaceful Army, 2019);
  • Grammy Award for Best Rock Album (From the Fires, 2019);
  • Total Guitar Award for Best Guitar Solo of the 21st Century (“The Weight of Dreams”, 2023).
Discography3 studio albums, 4 live albums, 2 EPs, and 15 singles.

Greta Van Fleet Band Members

While many bands go through several changes in their lineup during their careers, Greta Van Fleet has remained quite stable since its genesis. This is likely because 3/4 of the band are brothers, and the relationships they have with each other are solid and uplifting.

Their current drummer is the only musician who wasn’t there from day one. Danny Wagner replaced Kylie Hauk, and the rest of the band is still comprised of the 3 Kiszka brothers.

John Kiszka (Singer)

John Kiszka is the voice of Greta Van Fleet. A big fan of classic rock, blues, and soul, John grew up alongside Jake (his twin brother) and Sam, his younger brother. This trio was heavily influenced by their father, who is still an active musician performing under the name “Papa Kiszka”.

John is frequently praised for his vocal skills, namely his huge range and ability to sing high notes with power, confidence, and emotion, something that can be felt in any of Greta Van Fleet’s songs.

In June 2023, John decided to publicly announce that he has been in a same-sex relationship for the past 8 years, as a way to show his support for the LGBTQ community and to raise awareness to the individuals who are victims of persecution and discrimination.

Although he stated that he thought that doing so would put a huge target on his back, he was extremely supported by his fans. At the beginning of their Starcatcher tour, the audience in Nashville was the protagonist of a moment in which they held multicolored paper in the air to demonstrate their love and support for John’s coming out.

Jake Kiszka (Guitarist)

Jake Kiszka, John’s twin brother, is responsible for Greta Van Fleet’s electrifying guitar riffs. He clearly takes influence from the great players of the 70s, such as Jimmy Page, Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, Eric Clapton, and many others.

His guitar tones are diverse, and he employs a variety of textures to add depth and dynamics to the band’s songs. You’ll often see him playing a Gibson SG into vintage-oriented amplifiers such as Marshall heads.

Sam Kiszka (Bassist/Keyboardist)

The younger brother of the twins, Sam fills the low-end role of the band with his bass and keyboards. Responsible for laying down the groove, his basslines are tight and fundamental to the band’s overall sound. Since he plays more than one instrument, he adds to the group’s sonic versatility, similar to what John Paul Jones was able to do in Led Zeppelin on songs such as No Quarter.

Sam’s main instrument is a Fender ’50s Precision Bass Reissue in Seafoam Green, which he has used extensively live and in the studio. As for keyboards, you can hear him playing the Hammond B-3, the Fender Rhodes, and a Mellotron, among others.

Danny Wagner (Drummer)

The only current member who came into the band after it was formed, Danny Wagner sits at the drums to drive the rest of the band’s performances harder with his rhythmic precision and dynamics.

He is a fan of Ludwig drums, such as the Centennial Zep and the Classic Maple sets. He uses Paiste cymbals and Promark Hickory 5B sticks.

Greta Van Fleet’s Genesis: How the Band Came to Be

John, Jake, and Sam Kiszka all grew up in Frankenmuth, Michigan, United States of America. It was in this small town that they got interested in music and started taking their first steps as upcoming artists.

The band came together in 2012. The name came from a local acquaintance from their hometown, whose name is “Gretna Van Fleet”. They approached her, asked for permission to use the small variation as their name, and she said yes. The group quickly started growing, playing local gigs at local venues and nearby towns. Smaller gigs paved the way to festivals and bigger events, and the rest is history.

The most defining aspects of their sound were already present in their early recordings: catchy hooks, vintage-oriented tones, electrifying guitar riffs, a tight rhythm section with locked-in bass and drums, and a soaring voice to push it all into another dimension.

They got their first big break after the release of their debut EP, which features some of their most popular and celebrated songs to this date. Once their fame reached a higher level, they started touring the United States and Europe, taking the music that started in a small town to the whole world.

Greta Van Fleet’s Discography

Greta Van Fleet has a total of 3 studio albums, 4 live albums, 2 EPs, and 15 singles. They have also released 6 music videos. Check below for a summarized list of their releases so far.

Studio Albums

  • Anthem of the Peaceful Army (October 19, 2018)
Anthem of the Peaceful Army
Image from Fandom
  • The Battle at the Garden’s Gate (April 16, 2021)
  • Starcatcher (July 21, 2023)

Live Albums

  • Strange Horizons 2021: Live from Nashville (April 14, 2022)
  • Strange Horizons 2021: Live from Bridgeport (April 15, 2022)
  • Strange Horizons 2021: Live from Chicago (April 16, 2022)
  • Strange Horizons 2021: Live from Los Angeles (April 18, 2022)

EP’s (Extended Plays)

  • Black Smoke Rising (April 21, 2017)
  • From the Fires (November 10, 2017)
From the Fires
Image from Fandom


  • “Cloud Train” (2013)
  • “Standing On” (2013)
  • “Highway Tune” (2017)
  • “Safari Song” (2017)
  • “When the Curtain Falls” (2018)
  • “You’re the One” (2018)
  • “Lover, Leaver” (2019)
  • “My Way, Soon” (2020)
  • “Age of Machine” (2020)
  • “Heat Above” (2021)
  • “Built by Nations” (2021)
  • “Meeting the Master” (2023)
  • “The Falling Sky” (2023)

Music Videos

  • “Highway Tune” (2017)
  • “When the Curtain Falls” (2018)
  • “My Way, Soon” (2020)
  • “Age of Machine” (2020)
  • “Heat Above” (2021)
  • “Meeting the Master” (2023)

If you’ve just gotten to know Greta Van Fleet, here are a few recommendations based on their most popular songs to get you started.

Highway Tune

“Highway Tune” is the band’s most streamed song on Spotify, and as you hit play, you’re hit with a groovy guitar riff that precedes an intense and energetic intro where all 4 elements are swinging at full blast.

In this song, you get a good taste of John Kiszka’s vocal prowess, and some of his vocals will easily remind you of an early Robert Plant on records such as Led Zeppelin I and II.

“Highway Tune” was a breakthrough song for Greta Van Fleet. It exposed them to the world, catapulted them into a much larger scene, and was the perfect vector to convey their energy and charisma.

Black Smoke Rising

Featured as the lead single on their debut EP, “Black Smoke Rising” is another fan favorite within Greta Van Fleet’s repertoire. This dynamic composition starts with a somewhat moody and retrospective chord progression, before diving into an intense chorus that once again displays John Kiszka’s confidence in his wide vocal range.

It culminates in an epic crescendo that features a guitar solo by Jake Kiszka. His phrasing and vocabulary take you back to the 70s, while the rhythm section comprised of Sam Kiszka and Danny Wagner keeps propelling the song forward.

When The Curtain Falls

Released in 2018, “When The Curtain Falls” is part of Greta Van Fleet’s first studio album, Anthem of the Peaceful Army. The song starts with just guitar and drums for a few bars, showing off a riff that combines bends, slides, and pull-offs masterfully to create a vicious and catchy base for the rest of the song.

John’s voice is once again driving the instrumental with its strong high notes that have a raspy but tasteful character in the chorus sections. After the second chorus, the bridge section is the segway into an electrifying guitar solo by Jake Kiszka that would make any classic rocker proud.

This song is a great display of the evolution of Greta Van Fleet’s skills and abilities after they had recorded their first two EPs, Black Smoke Rising, and From the Fires.

Heat Above

“Heat Above” is one of the tracks in The Battle at Garden’s Gate, released in 2021. In this song, you hear a bigger slice of acoustic guitar and Hammond organs than in most of Greta Van Fleet’s songs. It seems as if they’ve had an approach more centered on the composition and production of this tune, which gives it a more theatrical and flamboyant character.

There are string arrangements that cradle John’s voice during the verse and chorus sections, and the electric guitar comes in near the end as the song’s climax arrives. Although “Heat Above” does not follow the same kind of formula that other popular songs of theirs have, it displays their versatility and the refinement of their personal sound.

Noteworthy Performances

After a few years of recording and touring, Greta Van Fleet has a few great stories to tell about where they’ve already played. Check some of the live performances worth highlighting below.

Live at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre (September 2019)

Playing at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is on many artists’ bucket lists, and Greta Van Fleet left their footprint there in September 2019. This place is famous for its amazing landscapes, acoustics, and views, making playing and watching live music there an unforgettable experience for anyone.

There is an excellent recording of this show released by the band for those who weren’t fortunate enough to be there.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (2018)

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of the most famous events in the music world, making it a great chance for Greta Van Fleet to put on a mesmerizing show for the thousands of people in attendance. In this concert, they played hits such as “Highway Tune”, “Black Smoke Rising”, “Safari Song”, and they ended the show with a brutal drum solo by Danny Wagner.

Live from RCA Studio A (2024)

The most recent entry on this list, Live from RCA Studio A was released at the end of January 2024, and it features a more intimate setting that displays the band in a different context than the arenas. Despite that, they feel equally comfortable, and the performance of “Meeting the Master” is nothing short of breathtaking. Starting with a voice and acoustic guitar duo, the song continuously grows, slowly stirring the pot with sweet backing vocals, gentle piano comping, and atmospheric drum passages, until it climaxes into a beautiful and emotional blues rock voyage.

Jake Kiszka’s guitar tones are on point, both with the acoustic guitar and his trustworthy Gibson SG that he relies on constantly.

Pinkpop (2022)

Greta Van Fleet had been to Pinkpop in 2018, and in 2022 they were invited again to give the crowd another dose of their pure rock & roll energy. This time around, they were performing under extreme conditions, as a rough heatwave was passing through that area. Nevertheless, they put on the kind of show that you’d expect from a battle-hardened band that is relentless and passionate about every live performance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Greta Van Fleet

Question: What is Greta Van Fleet’s most successful release?

Answer: As of writing this, the most successful release by Greta Van Fleet is their 2017 Extended Play From the Fires. It is where you can listen to some of their most famous hits such as “Safari Song”, “Highway Tune”, and “Black Smoke Rising”. It has sold over 600.000 copies worldwide.

Question: Are Greta Van Fleet frequently compared to Led Zeppelin?

Answer: Since their early days, Greta Van Fleet has been compared to Led Zeppelin, both positively and negatively. Their overall sound is very reminiscent of Zeppelin’s first records, but it is also arguable that the band is working on crafting their signature sound as they mature and release more albums.

Question: Are the members of Greta Van Fleet blood relatives?

Answer: Three out of the four elements of Greta Van Fleet are siblings. John and Jake Kiszka (vocals and guitar, respectively) are twins, and Sam Kiszka (bass) is their younger brother. The drummer, Danny Wagner, is not related to them and joined the band after it was created.

Closing Thoughts About Greta Van Fleet

Greta Van Fleet is doing an excellent service to those of us who are deeply into vintage soundscapes, classic rock & roll, loud amplifiers, and guitar solos.

In a world where modern music and technology are constantly changing the way we compose, produce, record, and perform, it is refreshing to see talented and creative musicians who are especially passionate about keeping the spirit of rock alive.

Despite being frequently compared to well-known bands of the 70s such as Led Zeppelin, Greta Van Fleet is crafting their unique sound identity and they will surely mature into a band worth listening to for a long time.

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