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Inside Track: Greta Van Fleet 'When The Curtain Falls'

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Al Sutton
Published January 2019
By Paul Tingen

The Rust Brothers (left to right): Al Sutton, Marlon Young and Herschel Boone.The Rust Brothers (left to right): Al Sutton, Marlon Young and Herschel Boone.

The success of Greta Van Fleet reflects not only the enduring appeal of heavy rock but the timeless virtues of classic recording techniques!

At a time when rock & roll has been in the doldrums for many years, the success of Greta Van Fleet is all the more more striking because they make no effort to reference hip-hop/R&B in order to appear up-to-date. The young Detroit four-piece sound like they have come out of a time‑warp from the early '70s; specifically, they sound very much like Led Zeppelin, with singer Josh Kiszka's wailing and shrieking uncannily reminiscent of Robert Plant, his brother Jake's guitar playing having a lot in common with Jimmy Page's, and third brother Sam playing bass, bass pedals and keyboards, just like John Paul Jones. There are, in fact, other influences in the band's sound — witness the Sam Cooke and Fairport Convention covers on their second EP, From The Fires — but still, it's striking that a quartet of 21st Century youngsters would want to sound eerily similar to a band that had their heyday 45 years earlier. What is for sure is that the Led Zeppelin angle provided a talking point that helped pave their way to the top, and their debut album Anthem Of The Peaceful Army peaked at number three on the Billboard chart.

Inside Track: Greta Van Fleet vinyl.Just about the only aspect of the band's route to the top that followed standard procedure was that they were signed in 2016 by a big label, Lava Records (part of Universal). After the band refused all pressure to 'update' their sound, one would forgive the label for at least getting some well-known rock producers involved. Instead, Anthem Of The Peaceful Army was co-produced by a trio who refer to themselves collectively as the Rust Brothers: Al Sutton, Marlon Young and Herschel Boone. Sutton and Young both have mixing credits, and Sutton tracked the album.

Sutton is originally from Detroit and studied electronic engineering there and was into hi-fi, until he discovered that it wasn't the gear but the person operating the gear that made things sound great. He played in some bands, and co-owned a studio in Detroit called White Room. When the other co-owners went off to start Vintage King Audio, Sutton founded Rustbelt Studios in 1995. Young also is from Detroit, and his big break came playing guitar and co-writing several...

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Published January 2019