Jake Kiszka Says New Greta Van Fleet Album Is ‘A Pretty Heavy Record,’ Explains How It’s Inspired By Classic Blues

While chatting with Guitar World, Greta Van Fleet guitarist Jake Kiszka went into more detail about the band’s new album “Starcatcher” and how it was inspired by classic blues. When asked about how the band has evolved on this new record, which was released on July 21 this year, Jake simply said that it was “about going back to our roots” and further explained:

“At least, that’s certainly been the case for me. Foundationally, many of our influences go back to the blues and things like that. I needed to get back to the basics of players like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, and Albert King.”

Greta Van Fleet - The Archer (Official Audio)

As Jake further adds, there are a lot of new elements on “Starcatcher” that sets this one apart from their previous releases. According to him, the record bears some heaviness but not in the usual sense of that word that we’re used to:

“So I think ‘Starcatcher’ is very foundational in ways that maybe our previous records weren’t. I think we’ve gone in directions I’d call ‘cinematic,’ and I think the mindset this time was, ‘Let’s dial it back, get out of the city, go back into the country, and put some of those types of songs together.’ The result is what I’d say is a pretty heavy record.”

When the interviewer then reminded him of the album’s “primal nature” and asked whether it was their “intention to go in a more rhythmic direction,” Jake replied:

“Yeah, you’re right. If you listen, there are tons of primitive aspects that are undeniably human, powerful, and visceral. I think we went in wanting to elicit those types of sounds. And, again, that’s us harkening back to our blues influences. It’s a genuine evolution of all the sounds that brought us here.”

Greta Van Fleet - Frozen Light (Visualizer)

“Kind of like those that came before us, this is us staking our claim to our contribution to our generation. It’s a love letter to the echoes of the power of rock music, which I think the world always needs more of. [Laughs]”

During the interview, Kiszka was also asked about the blues influences on the album and about how that’s present on “Starcatcher.” He then explained:

“You can hear the blues in my playing on this record more than any of our others. Having said that, Elmore James has always been huge for me. His slide playing is one of the things that has always influenced me.”

Greta Van Fleet - Runway Blues (Official Audio)

“But beyond his slide playing, I think it’s most present in my attitude and mood. The truth is I’ve never heard anyone play guitar like Elmore James, and I don’t think anyone ever will again. He was the only one to do it that way, so I’m trying to sound like him. But I did work to try and capture the attitude he had.”

Released on July 21 this year, “Starcatcher” was preceded by four singles. The first one was “Meeting the Master” which landed on April 7. The album clocks in at almost 43 minutes and features a total of ten new songs.

Greta Van Fleet - Meeting The Master (Official Music Video)

In another recent interview, Jake Kiszka also reflected on his No. 1 guitar that he refers to as the “Beloved.” We’re looking at a 1961 Gibson Les Paul with a Vibrola tailpiece. Essentially, it’s the double-cutaway guitar that later became known as the SG. Being a not-so-common one, Jake explained that he got this $20,000 guitar from Chicago Music Exchange when Greta Van Fleet were on their first tour. Interestingly enough, the store owner gave it to him and Jake ended up paying for it later. He recalled:

“When we first left Michigan, Josh [Kiszka, vocalist] and I must have been 20, and Sam [Kiszka, bassist] and Danny [Wagner, drums] were like 17 – and we just hit the ground running.”

“One of the stops along that first tour was Chicago, and so of course we stopped off at Chicago Music Exchange while we were there.”

60th Anniversary ’61 Les Paul SG with Jake Kiszka of Greta Van Fleet

“Now, due to the fact that we had grown up in a town of 5,000 people in the middle of a bunch of farm fields, the access we had to instruments was pretty limited, so being in this massive instrument shop that had everything – vintage, contemporary, you name it – it was like, ‘WOW!’”

“And the owner was taking us around and he was like, ‘If you see anything you like, let me know and we can pull it…’ And so I was walking around being like, ‘Well this is cool, this is cool, this is also cool…’”

“But then I stumbled on that guitar, and we took it back to his apartment, which was right down the street, and plugged it in… And it was like divine intervention because that was the sound that I’d been trying to find pretty much my whole life.”

Greta Van Fleet Guitarist Jake Kiszka's 1961 Gibson Les Paul Held Together with Tape

“Going all the way back to being that kid picking up a guitar at three years old, it was that sound – that was it.”

“I hadn’t even owned a tube amp up until that point, I was playing solid-state stuff! We hadn’t even really made our name, we were just starting out touring, and he just said, ‘What you heard, I think I heard it too… take this guitar on the road with you and you can just pay me back when you can.’”

“This guy just let this kid take a $20,000 guitar out the door! And a year later I was able to pay him back, but I have him to thank for that still – we’re friends to this day!”

Greta Van Fleet - The Indigo Streak (Live)

Photo: Stefan Brending (2018 RiP – Greta Van Fleet – by 2eight – 3SC6986)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.