King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard

Back in August we featured Melbourne-via-Anglesea seven piece King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard on our FL Playlist. The rough and tumble collective, who have a penchant for sludgy surf tunes and maniacal live shows, caught our ears with the first single Black Tooth taken from their forthcoming EP Willoughby’s Beach.

On the eve of the release of second single Dead Beat we decided it was time to get up close and personal with The Gizzard to find out just what they are all about.

Hello Sti, tll me about your personal music background?

I am a guitarist and I sing in the band. I grew up in Anglesea which is a really beautiful coastal town, and while it’s really nice and peaceful it’s also really boring! So sometimes there’s not really much else to do but sit around and bash a guitar or a drum kit. Instinctively I always played a lot of music and spent a lot of time in Geelong, being the closest town but also having a lot of pubs you can play in and that sort of thing. I spent a long time at the Nash, playing in bands there and occasionally the Barwon Club.

Now I teach guitar as a day job. I teach in Anglesea, and I also teach in Geelong once a week. Other than that I’m always in Melbourne.

Who do you regard as a musical influence? And on the other end of that what artists do you dislike?

I think I’m a fair musical lover. I don’t hate a lot of music. I like music with a lot of energy in it; I have a short attention span so I get pretty easily bored! I like live music and music that’s fun and fast. As for stuff that was influential though, my parents listened to a lot of blues and roots music, and a little bit of rock n roll, lots of distinctive 50s music. But I think funnily enough, it was my dad who pressured me to play – he plays guitar too. And I didn’t want to play and didn’t realise it was cool for a while. I didn’t pick up a guitar ‘til I was about 16, but when I was 15 I watched AC/DC and thought “Angus Young is like the coolest dude” and ‘I wanna be like that dude!’ That was an early influence. But personally I like a lot of surf music, The Beach Boys and pop music like that. I think there’s a lot of good music around at the moment though, I think we’re living in a pretty awesome age for that.

So in your opinion what young bands should we keep an ear out for?

There are heaps! I’m a bit biased because I like all my friends bands…there are heaps of awesome Geelong bands and emerging Melbourne bands also.

In Geelong you should see Face Time and Cuckoo’s Nest, and in Melbourne you should see, The Merlocks, Sambrose Automobile, and Fraser A Gorman. They’re all great artists.

And how did the band get together? Because you’ve only been together a little over a year if I’m not mistaken…

We were all playing a bit and the core of the band was living next door to each other in houses in Carlton. So Eric and Joey and I go to uni together and a friend from uni was organising a gig and suggested that we play ‘cos we’d been jamming together. So we put something together, despite not really feeling like a band, and it just grew from there! We said to everyone there that day that we were having another gig the next weekend so we threw together a few tunes and just did it really. And that was it!

And where did the name come from?

Well, we were also trying to come up with a name last minute without much preparation. Just everyone snowballing ideas really, looking for something absurd.

Talk me through some of the process…

Well I wanted to be ‘Gizzard Gizzard,’ but I think everyone thought that was just stupid. Then someone else wanted a Jim Morrison King Lizard reference, and then Lizard Gizzard came up, then more rhymes, then a few fusion of names and we ended up King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. It was sort of meant to be two characters, and I think people often think it’s like a two part band.

So have you pursued any album artwork with these ideas?

We did some singles early on, when I went home to Anglesea, and all the artwork for that was done by mates who we asked to draw what they pictured King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to be. And they turned out these really warped, weird ideas, which is what the album covers ended up being.

We’re also working on a new EP, on 10-inch vinyl, and the artwork for that was done by an Indonesian friend of mine. He speaks English, but not really well, and it can be hard to communicate with him. But the artwork for that is floating around online and it’s unreal.

And the lyrics…Who writes them and what are they all about?

I write most of the stuff, but it’s pretty simple and there’s not much to it. I’d say it is collaborative though. But I record a lot of stuff at home with drum machines and silly things like that…they’re not real songs, they’re just ideas. And I’ll get together with some of the other guys and pad them out into songs. It’s structured that way. But for the nine songs that are on our upcoming EP I did about 20 or 30 demos, and they’re like half songs. So we picked the best ones and turned them into real songs. But the songs are simple and they’re “moment songs.” They’re about two minutes long and intense and energetic. And then they’re gone and that’s all they’re really meant to be. But it can take a while for one to emerge.

And you’ve been announced as playing Meredith 2011…Congratulations! How are you anticipating the festival and who are you looking forward to seeing?

I’m really excited and really nervous. I have a massive love for Meredith and all the bands that play there. I’ve always had the most amazing time so I’m really grateful to be playing. It’s such a good opportunity. We found out a couple of months ago and I had to keep my mouth shut, which was really difficult!

But I’m really looking forward to seeing Kurt Vile (and the Violators), and Mudhoney should be pretty cool. I’m also looking forward to Barbarian, and Grinderman of course.

When are you playing?

We’re opening it! 4pm on the Friday.

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard play The Tote in Melbourne this Friday 21st October and open Meredith Music Festival at 4pm on Friday 9th September.