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Greta Van Fleet’s Sam Kiszka on Rock, Grammys Recognition and Partying With Elton John

Greta Van Fleet’s embrace of all things Led Zeppelin has prompted some to declare the Michigan group reductive. But earning four Grammy noms (best new artist, rock album, rock performance and rock song), competing against the likes of Weezer, St. Vincent and the late Chris Cornell, has silenced many naysayers. Bassist Sam Kiszka spoke to Variety ahead of the Feb. 10 ceremony. 

What does a Grammy nomination mean to you? 

That you’ve been accepted as a mainstream artist. It’s a high honor — like you’re being let into a club.

How do you respond to those who say that rock is dead? 

We know that’s not true. There’s plenty of it out there. That the Grammys nominated a rock band for best new artist is the biggest statement that can be made. Our mission is to make powerful and relevant music. Timeless songs … aren’t necessarily genre-specific. 

The GVF sound is familiar to adults, but do you find that kids are discovering rock for themselves? 

Rock started with kids in the 1950s — the teenage revolution. There’s a reason for that: Children have a lot more truth than people who have been weathered by society. That’s when people, for the first time in history, started saying, “Wait, maybe kids are cool.” That dropped out for a while, until now.

Last year you performed at Elton John’s Oscar viewing party benefiting his AIDS Foundation. The Killers are playing it on Feb. 24. Any advice? 

The most important thing to remember — and I wish I knew this going into it — is that Elton considers it his one day off in the year. So let’s just say Elton cuts the f–k loose. … It’s a party; don’t try to find another name for it.

What You Didn’t Know About Greta Van Fleet 

HOW THE BAND FORMED: Brothers Josh (vocals), 22, Jake (guitar), 22, and Sam Kiszka, 19, began jamming together in 2012, adding friend and drummer Danny Wagner, 19, a year later INFLUENCES: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Who, “Apocalypse Now,” Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway BIG DEAL: Signed to Lava/Republic in 2017 by music exec Jason Flom 

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