In the three years since releasing their debut Anthem of the Peaceful Army—headlining shows in five continents and selling a million tickets within a three-year span—the trajectory of Greta Van Fleet is just as meteoric as the arena-rock deliverances of the Michigan-bred Fleet, made up of the Kiszka brothers, twins Josh and guitarist Jake, and bassist Sam, along with drummer Danny Wagner.
Formed in 2012, just north of Detroit in Frankenmuth, Michigan (a town often dubbed “Little Bavaria,” an ode to its German settlers), the past nine years have transitioned GVF from playing smaller sweaty bars to the release of two EPs—Black Smoke Rising and From the Fires in 2017, the latter nabbing a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album—a more epic debut one year later, and the recent arrival of the band’s sophomore album The Battle at Garden’s Gate.
A reflection of the band’s evolution, spiritually, personally, and as songwriters nearly a decade in, The Battle at Garden’s Gate opens a new portal to Greta Van Fleet.
Recurrent comparisons to Led Zeppelin aside, Greta Van Fleet brashly don their myriad influences on their well-designed sleeves. Garden’s Gate marches through war and peace, varied human conditions, and a connection to the natural world, while melding of the band’s shared experiences, personal revelations, and more esoteric discoveries along the way.
“Garden’s Gate is everything that remains in the natural world, and the conflict is what threatens the natural world,” says Kiszka. “There are biblical elements to this whole thing, but I think it really did start with just sort of having such fascination with mythology, and we built this sort of Greta Van Fleet universe, which in a way acts as a platform for us to be able to communicate much more complex themes.”
Pulling from the cosmic and philosophical realms, for Kiszka, who grew up surrounded by music and books on philosophy—his father had a degree in the field—Alan Watts is an enduring inspiration, while also delving into more Aldous Huxley and other worldly connections for Garden’s Gate. “It’s some of the Eastern philosophy mixed with exploring the the human condition and breaking down barriers and I think underneath all of the facade that we have permeating our culture is that at the end of the day, we are free. We are humans on a pale blue dot, and we have been given the limitless freedom to create upon all of this, and to be mindful of that, and not to destroy it.”
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