Steven Wilson Goes on Old Man Rant About Greta Van Fleet
Greta Van Fleet have proven quite the controversial band over the past year, with their fast-track to mega-success drawing polarized opinions from all corners of the music world culminating in Pitchfork’s infamous 1.6 out of 10 review.
The latest musician to chime in on the Greta Van Fleet debate is Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, etc.), who does not mince words at all in sharing his distaste for the band. First, let’s read the quote from the My Rock Podcast [transcribed by Alternative Nation], then let’s talk about it:
“That terrible band Greta Van Fleet, you know that band? I think they’re absolutely abysmal. I think they’re terrible; I think it’s a joke.
“They’re an example of a band – because they’re pretty young boys, they look like a boy band, they play this really piss-poor third-rate impersonation of Led Zeppelin.
“But they’re pretty and they’ve had all the help of the media and the commercial machine behind them, and they’ve been able to reach a massive audience overnight by playing third-rate music.
“I don’t believe for one minute that anyone will remember who they are in 10 years. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and develop into a good band and make a good record, but the point is, at the moment, they’re not.
“They’re like a boy band version of Led Zeppelin. I understand why that happens, I’m not naive, I understand that a lot of the industry is based around being young, pretty, having the right image. I’ve never had any of that stuff.”
First, I think it’s difficult to substantiate Wilson’s claim that Greta Van Fleet are a terrible band: they’re not. They’re quite talented. Completely unoriginal, absolutely, but quite good at what they do.
Next, I think it’s unfair (and naive) of Wilson’s to say that GVF are only successful because of the media and the “commercial machine.” Wilson has been around long enough to know this isn’t how things works; surely he’s seen first-hand major labels pump literal millions of dollars into promoting a band only to see that band flop. Money and media alone cannot make a band successful. Clearly music fans are connecting with Greta Van Fleet! The train was already rolling before money ever came into the picture.
Finally, this all just comes off as pungent, sour grapes to me. I think it’s totally fair to say that GVF are Led Zeppelin ripoffs that don’t deserve the acclaim they’ve gotten, and he may even be correct that no one will remember them in ten years (although I think people will remember them, but just as a bizarre footnote, i.e. “Wow, remember when that was a thing?” Similar to how we now look back on The Darkness). But to credit their success as coming from big money, the media, youth, good looks and having the right image is misguided, especially when followed by the phrase “I’ve never had any of that stuff,” which reeks of “kids these days.”
So yeah, much respect to Mr. Wilson and all he has accomplished in his career (I’m a big fan), but old person is acting like an old person here. He probably used to walk to school two miles uphill in the snow both ways every day, too.