Frankemmuth band greta van fleet too busy to feel pressure of fame i electricity bill com

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GVF has been on a roll since its first single, “Highway Tune,” was released a year ago. It and the follow-up “Safari Song” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. The group’s “Black Smoke Rising” EP hit No. 10 on the Hard Rock chart, while the subsequent “From The Fires” CD topped the same survey. GVF won Best New Artist at the Loudwire Music Awards and swept three Detroit Music Awards earlier this month.

With a sound favorably compared to Led Zeppelin — whose Robert Plant is a fan — and other rock icons of the ’60s and ’70s, GVF has even become something of a toast with its elder peers. The group opened for Bob Seger last Sept. 7 in Saginaw, while Elton John joined the group onstage at his annual Academy Awards benefit, for renditions of GVF’s “You’re The One” and his “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.” Tom Hanks dropped by a recording session and took photos with the band, while his wife, Rita Wilson, working in a neighboring studio, tweeted, “Keep rockin! You guys are crushing!!!”

Guitarist Jake Kiszka — who formed the group six years ago with brothers Josh and Sam, later adding friend Danny Wagner on drums — calls all of this “overwhelming but exciting.” But he says the pace of heavy touring and work on GVF’s first full-length album helps keep the group from getting carried away with its success.

“There are certain moments where you’re kind of forced to stand back and look at things — like when we played with Elton John — and kind of put some stuff in perspective,” Kiska, 22, says by phone from a tour stop in New Jersey. “But mostly things are rolling along so fast it’s very difficult to look at it from an outside perspective. We just don’t have too much time to think about it right now.”

“These are people we can call our family and we trust ultimately,” the guitarist notes. “And the fact we’re all brothers anyway, we kind of maintain levelheadedness with each other. Nothing seems to inflate us at all. I guess we’re just humble in a sense in where we came from and who we are.”

That humilty is put to the test when GVF storms through Europe and North America, routinely selling out shows (including three at the Fillmore Detroit) and appearing at major festivals such as Coachella, Shaky Knees, Carolina Rebellion and Rock on the Range. But the Elton John experience certainly ranks atop the pinch-me moments.

“We’d heard rumors about it,” Kiszka recalls, “and then our manager told us, ‘Well you guys, around 10 a.m. tomorrow — which was another feat — you’ll be getting a call from England.’ So we got up and we figured it would be (John’s) manager or something, and we picked it up and it was … ‘Hey boys, it’s Elton. I was wondering if you’d play this year’s Oscar party.’ He said it was the best rock ’n’ roll he’s heard in 30 years.

“That was another one of those moments where you stepped back and, ‘Wow.’ It was kind of a full circle thing, when you see your childhood self listening to Elton John. I think we were all kind of quiet and, ‘What do we do now? What do we say?’ ‘Well, yeah, I guess — if we have to.’”

Kiszka says he and his bandmates have come to understand the allure of GVF’s music, timeless blues-based hard rock built upon years of listening to Kiszka parents’ record collection and exposure to family and friends’ campfire jam sessions during trips around the state.

Kiszka says the material — which includes songs that have been around for a while and that GVF has played on stage — is “similar” to what fans have heard before but definitely shows growth that’s come from the vast amount of playing the group has done in the past year-plus.

“I think there’s some maturity on the album that you can hear, musically,” Kiszka says. “We were able to take our time and try new arrangements and new writing techniques. I think we’ve become a lot more savvy in the studio as well, so a lot of that will translate to the album. It’s very energetic and aggressive.”

The album doesn’t have a title or release date yet, but Kiszka says GVF is already looking toward its second full album, with plenty of ideas in motion. And that view to the horizon helps the group keep pressure at bay about expectations that lie ahead for the current project.

“I think we’re more excited than nervous, ’cause there’s definitely a lot of stuff we want to do,” Kiszka says. “We want to make a lot of records and put out a lot of music, and that keeps us focused and kind of grounded. Maybe there’s some minor pressure, ’cause pressure’s always good, and always there. But more so there’s excitement about what we’re gonna do next, and after that, and after that.”

• If You Go: Greta Van Fleet and Dorothy perform Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, May 22, 23 and 25 at The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. All shows are sold out. Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com or gretavanfleet.com/ for more information.