Thursday, October 26, 2017

Report: Young Musicians Reinventing Classic Rock

Greta Van Fleeet (photos: Matt Roth for WSJ)
Classic Rock is being reinvented by young musicians, some of whom are barely out of high school, who are channeling bands their mothers and fathers grew up with.

Greta Van Fleet is a rarity in today’s music business: An old-fashioned rock band that could, some music executives say, break into the pop world.

According to a story from The Wall Street Journal, the Frankenmuth, Mich., group is made up of 21-year-old twins Jake Kiszka, the band’s guitarist, and Josh Kiszka, its singer; their brother and bassist Sam Kiszka, 18; and drummer Danny Wagner, 18. Greta Van Fleet’s debut EP, “Black Smoke Rising,” which features Josh’s Robert Plant-like howl and Jake’s guitar hooks, opened at No. 1 on Apple’s iTunes rock chart. “Highway Tune,” their single, recently topped Billboard’s mainstream rock radio chart for five weeks. Despite having just four songs, Greta Van Fleet is selling out clubs like New York City’s Bowery Ballroom.

“There’s a theory that rock needs one new band showing up and getting people to talk about rock again,” says Eddie Trunk, a longtime rock personality who hosts a daily radio show on Sirius-XM’s “Volume” channel. “Could this be that band?”

It isn’t just Greta Van Fleet giving classic, guitar-driven rock a modern twist. Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown are playing to bigger crowds, recently opening shows for AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses. The band’s new album, due Nov. 3, features tighter, punchier songs—a decision it made after playing a 25,000-capacity venue with AC/DC and realizing they needed bigger-sounding material.

Concertgoers listen to Greta Van Fleet’s set at the Ottobar. As Led Zeppelin borrowed from their blues heroes 50 years ago to craft a new sound, Greta Van Fleet’s channeling of Zeppelin and other classic acts may sound fresh to a new generation, the band’s backers say.

According to The Wall Street Journal streaming services mint stars today, not radio stations. But rock fans don’t stream nearly as much as hip-hop fans do: Greta Van Fleet’s “Highway Tune,” for example, has under 7 million streams on Spotify compared with female rapper Cardi B’s recent hit “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” with 146 million.

With their retro sound, youthful energy and good looks, Greta Van Fleet could appeal to three key demographics, Mr. Flom says: Older “classic-rock Dads” who tune into rock radio shows and attend classic-rock concerts; younger male fans curious about 1960s and 1970s rock, soul and funk; and young women who, in the past, have helped mainstream rock bands become pop stars.

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