On July 6 and July 8, Michigan band Greta Van Fleet performed their first ever Canadian shows, with two sold-out shows at Toronto’s Rebel Venue. The capacity of this venue is 7,584 and the real kicker in this is that this band has yet to release their debut album.

Forming in 2012, Greta Van Fleet consists of four members, three of which are brothers – twins Josh (vocals) and Jake (guitar) Kiszka, younger brother Sam Kiszka (bass, keyboards) and drummer Danny Wagner. And in the years since coming together, the band has already opened for likes of Guns N’ Roses, Foo Fighters, performed for and with Sir Elton John and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant has given his approval. And it might come as a surprise when you hear the band’s music that Jake and Josh are just 21 years old, while Danny and Sam are only 18.

The band is currently gearing up to release their highly anticipated debut album and I had the chance to chat with members Sam and Danny at Toronto’s Drake Hotel, days after their Rebel Venue shows. We talked about growing up in Frankenmuth, Michigan, coming together as a band, their first two extended plays, the early success they’ve been seeing, the state of rock and roll and of course, the debut album.

Alright guys, nice to meet you both, tell me about growing up in Michigan?

Sam: It’s pretty much the same as Toronto.

Danny: Like from what I’ve gathered so far, it’s not a whole lot different compared to some of the other foreign countries we’ve been too. You know, it’s like North America’s Europe, I guess.

Sam: But yeah, we grew up more in the countryside, but to kind of put it in perspective, Frankenmuth in Michigan is what I would call an oasis. It’s this little Bavarian town and around it is just countryside and that’s where we grew up.

And Danny, did you guys grow up together?

Danny: We did, I grew up what 5 miles west, 5 miles west down the road from these guys (Sam, Josh, Jake).

Sam: Probably about three country blocks away.

Danny: Yeah, so not too far, so it’s cool and we grew up with probably too much of each other. And we had a creek that ran from his house to my house.

And in terms of when you guys were starting the band, there was another drummer Kyle Hauck who you replaced, how did you transition into the group Danny?

Sam: Greta Van Fleet didn’t start until Danny joined the band. I know if you go on Wikipedia it says Kyle Hauck, former drummer, it wasn’t a serious band at the time until Danny joined. And that’s the way I look at it.

Danny: It didn’t garner any of the attention that it does relatable to now, so it’s not important.

So, after Danny joins, I know as a group there are so many musical influences clashing with each member having his own music taste, how was it finding your sound or least what was the beginning stages like?

Sam: You know, I still think we’re trying to find it, It’s funny I think it’s something you look for, but never find. Yeah, that sounds like a good riddle doesn’t it? What do you look for, but never find? And that’s what it is, you kind of reinvent yourself as you go. Like look at Paul McCartney, he constantly reinvented himself whether people liked it or not over the past 50 years and that’s why he’s the best.

Danny: As long as you’re given the opportunity and means to, you will grow.

Now let’s talk about your first ever song you guys made, 'Highway Tune', looking back on this, I read that the song actually was made a really long time ago, earlier in the decade, what are your thoughts on it as the first record by Greta Van Fleet?

Sam: If I have to play that song again, I’m just kidding,

Is it one of those songs where you already feel like that?

Danny: It was kind of at first, you know and then I honestly think the attention changed it so much for us and that was our first taste of the outside world in that it can affect you and it really did give me a morale boost.

Sam: And it’s like a representation of where Greta Van Fleet started, the very roots of Greta Van Fleet, whether we like it or not and I think that’s just part of being an artist, that reinvention goes and goes and every couple of years you will say that was shit and then what we're doing now 5 years down the road will say that was shit.

Danny: Some of the best albums are time capsules, could be shit, could be not, but you know their time capsules.

Touching on the idea of performing a song so many times, a lot of artists have their own signature song that they kind of hate playing at times, but it’s expected, is it funny having that same feeling?

Danny: It is a little bit funny.

Sam: But we’ve only been playing the song for 5-6 years.

Danny: Yeah, we can’t jinx it, because will probably be performing it for another handful of years.

Sam: Yeah, the Rolling Stones are still playing 'Satisfaction' so will still play 'Highway Tune'.

Now when you guys were making your first EP, Black Smoke Rising what was the process like for you guys?

Sam: Man, well it was kind of like two years in the making.

Danny: Relatively stress free, I’ll tell you that. We were still early on in high school, I can tell you that.

Sam: Yeah, we were like sophomores in high school and the producer Al Sutton saw something in us, which was incredible because we weren’t a real proper band at all and he was the guy who said these guys have something.

Danny: But he never really told us that we had it, he never put it that way, he said these guys have potential, they don’t have it, but they have potential.

Sam: So, he’s the type of guy when he gives a compliment, you go woah, I must be doing something right and you need that type of person, no matter what it is, you need someone to say that’s horrible, like what do you think?

Danny: In a way it was like I said relatively easy, you know, it was pain-free to record the EP’s because it was fun and for all of us, it was our first ever experience recording properly.

Touching on being sophomore's in high school, what was the balance like with school and music and life in general?

Danny: Well back then it was kind of like you would go to school, then after school you practice, whatever you could and then weekend shows and sometimes during the week, but once we graduated we started touring hardcore and we haven’t been home much since.

Now after releasing your first EP, Black Smoke Rising, you followed it up with From The Fires a few months later, did that mean you guys had a ton of music stashed?

Danny: Like Sam said earlier, it’s been a band, it’s been a configuration for at least five years now, there is material that we’ve been writing over the course of years and we’re still writing material.

And does it seem like it’s been 5 years for you guys?

Sam: Absolutely not.

Danny: No.

Sam: Yeah, its flown by.

Danny: It’s absolutely flown by.

Sam: It’s strange because this past year, we’ve packed so much into it, it has felt like 3 years, but it’s gone by so quickly because we’ve been having so much fun and it feels like 3 months.

Danny: Yeah and in terms of like production and the show that we’re bringing to every show, it’s actually felt longer than it’s been because you think about where we were a year ago, you know in a van then you fast forward a year later and then you have a crew with you and a lighting rig and all these things and when you think about it in that way it does seem like it’s been a long time.

Yeah exactly, when you think about it like that it does sound like a journey and over the course of the past five years, what do you guys think have been a few notable moments that made you look at each other and go wow, this is really happening?

Sam: There’s a recent one actually, we just did Summerfest in Milwaukee, which we did in 2017 also and it was like our first festival and we opened up, then we headlined a stage and was really cool because we took the next position up and instead of arriving in a van and a trailer, it was two buses and a semi-truck.

That must have been crazy and in touching on the state of rock right now, in terms of where rock music is right now because I’m a massive rock fan, like I grew up on bands like My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco, The Killers, how does this success feel because a lot of people say rock is dead, but when you guys look around, it looks alive?

Danny: It kind of just depends because like in our world rock isn’t dead. It’s a thriving, fun, energetic place and it really depends on your interpretation of it.

Sam: I don’t really care if rock is dead because it’s sure as hell fun to play.

Danny: Yeah, I mean if it’s dead or not, dead or alive, I’m still going to enjoy it just as much.

Sam: Honestly, I think it’s alive and well and in the next 5-6 years, I mean rock and roll and alternative will be the largest format again and who knows if radio will still be around. I really think rock will be pop again.

Here's hoping, now I know you guys are working on your debut album, what does it feel like working on this album opposed to when you guys were working on your EP’s?

Sam: We had to start with a vision instead of work our way to a complete body of work. You know we're making this vision, this body of work and it’s a substantial piece and it’s its own concept. With the EP’s, it was like here are some songs, so yeah it was really cool recording the album. We’re actually in the mixing process right now.

Do you guys feel a certain pressure with this debut album?

Sam: A little bit, but I love it.

Danny: I mean absolutely, it’s not just a debut album, for us it’s a debut album for being musicians. You know we never recorded a full album, we’ve never spent this amount of time in a studio working on a piece of work like this.

Sam: And everybody keeps saying we have to save rock and roll and it kind of is a lot of pressure.

Now what I find really interesting about you guys is that you haven’t even released this debut album yet, but you’re actually attracting the younger generation and the older generation with your music, both demographics, how do you guys feel about that?

Sam: I think that's what rock and roll is all about. Yes, it is amazing that we’re able to do this so early on, we can bring together everybody all in one place because that’s what music is. It’s not about like this kind of music is for this kind of people and this kind of music, you know it doesn’t matter, everybody can join in and we’re happy to already be doing that and I can’t wait until the album comes out.