King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.jpg
Some of the band performing in February 2016; left to right: Cook Craig, Ambrose Kenny-Smith, and Stu Mackenzie
Background information
Also known as
  • King Gizz
  • King Gizzard
OriginMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres
Years active2010–present
Labels
Associated acts
  • The Murlocs
  • Gum
  • Broderick Smith
  • Atolls
  • Leah Senior
  • Love Migrate
  • Pipe Eye
  • Dreamin' Wild
  • Sambrose Automobile
  • The Babe Rainbow
  • Fraser A. Gorman
  • Buried Horses
  • Mild High Club
Websitekinggizzardandthelizardwizard.com
Members
  • Stu Mackenzie
  • Ambrose Kenny-Smith
  • Joey Walker
  • Cook Craig
  • Lucas Skinner
  • Michael Cavanagh
  • Eric Moore

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is an Australian rock band formed in 2010 in Melbourne, Victoria.[1][2] The band consists of Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, flute), Ambrose Kenny-Smith (vocals, harmonica, keyboards), Cook Craig (guitar, bass, vocals), Joey Walker (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals), Lucas Skinner (bass, keyboards), Michael Cavanagh (drums, percussion), and Eric Moore (drums, percussion, management). They are known for their energetic live shows and prolific recording output, having released two EPs and 15 studio albums since their formation.

Their debut EP, Willoughby's Beach (2011), and first two albums, 12 Bar Bruise (2012) and Eyes Like the Sky (2013), primarily blended surf music and garage rock, and were released on the band's independent record label, Flightless, founded by Moore in 2012. Their third to eighth albums—Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (2013), Oddments, I'm in Your Mind Fuzz (2014), Quarters!, Paper Mâché Dream Balloon (2015) and Nonagon Infinity (2016)—expanded their sound, including elements of film music, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, folk, jazz, soul and heavy metal.[3][4]

In 2017, the band fulfilled a promise to release five studio albums within the year: Flying Microtonal Banana in February; Murder of the Universe in June; Sketches of Brunswick East, a collaboration with Mild High Club, in August; Polygondwanaland, which was released into the public domain, in November; and Gumboot Soup in December. The band released two more albums in 2019, Fishing for Fishies and Infest the Rats' Nest.

History[edit]

Formation (2010)[edit]

The band members all grew up and went to school in the Deniliquin, Melbourne and Geelong areas. The band started off as a group of friends jamming together, before a mutual friend asked them to play at a show. The band's name was created "last minute". Mackenzie wanted to name the band "Gizzard Gizzard" while another band member wanted Jim Morrison's nickname "Lizard King". They eventually compromised with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.[5] The artist Jason Galea has created all of the band's album art, and a majority of their music videos.

Early EPs and 12 Bar Bruise (2011–2012)[edit]

The band's first release, 2011's Anglesea, was released as a four-track EP on CD. It is named after Anglesea, the coastal town where Mackenzie grew up, and is currently not available for purchase, physically or digitally.[5] The band's second release, Willoughby's Beach, was released by Shock Records on 21 October 2011.[6] Beat Magazine described the 9-track garage rock EP as "filled to the teeth with consistently killer hooks."[7] In December 2011, the band appeared at the Meredith Music Festival for the first time.

The band's first full-length album, 12 Bar Bruise, was released on 7 September 2012.[8] The 12-track garage rock album was self-recorded, and several tracks used unconventional recording methods. For example, the vocals for the album's title track were recorded through four iPhones placed around a room while Mackenzie sang into one of them.[9]

Eyes Like the Sky and Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (2013)[edit]

Stu Mackenzie performing in August 2016

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard's second full-length album, Eyes Like the Sky, was released on 22 February 2013.[10] Described as a "cult western audio book",[10] the album is narrated by Broderick Smith and tells a story of outlaws, child soldiers, Native Americans and gun fights, all set in the American frontier. The album was written collaboratively by Smith and Stu Mackenzie. When asked about the album's influences, Mackenzie said: "I love Western films. I love bad guys and I love Red Dead Redemption. Oh, and I love evil guitars".[11]

The band's third full-length album, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, was released on 27 September 2013.[12] King Gizzard shifted from garage rock to a more mellow folk and psychedelic sound on this eight track album.[13]

Oddments and I'm in Your Mind Fuzz (2014)[edit]

Float Along – Fill Your Lungs was followed by Oddments, released on 7 March 2014.[14] Over the course of this 12-track album, the band takes a more melodic approach, and Mackenzie's vocals are more prominent.[15] Oddments has been described as being "recorded through a woolen sock in an adjacent room".[16]

The band's fifth full-length album, I'm in Your Mind Fuzz, was released on 31 October 2014.[17] The 10-track album touches on elements of fantasy[18] and lyrically delves into the concept of mind control. This was the first time the band took a "traditional" approach to writing and recording an album; the songs were written, the band rehearsed together, and they recorded the songs "as a band" in the studio.[19] Pitchfork described the album as "open[ing] with a sprint" and ending "with some of their best slow jams."[20] In 2019, I'm In Your Mind Fuzz came at no.6 on Happy Mag's list of "The 25 best psychedelic rock albums of the 2010s".[21]

Quarters! and Paper Mâché Dream Balloon (2015)[edit]

Quarters!, King Gizzard's sixth full-length album, was released on 1 May 2015.[22] The album features four songs, each running for ten minutes and ten seconds,[23] making each song a quarter of the album. Drawing upon jazz-fusion and acid rock, the album's more laid-back sound was described as "unlike anything they've released before" and as "an album more likely to get your head bobbing and hips shaking as opposed to losing footwear in a violent mosh".[24]

Later in the year, on 13 November 2015, the band released its seventh full-length album, Paper Mâché Dream Balloon.[25] This "concept-less concept album" features only acoustic instruments and was recorded on Mackenzie's parents' farm in country Victoria.[25] The album features "a collection of short unrelated songs"[25] described as "mellow, defuzzed psychedelia".[26] The band released a music video for the song "Trapdoor".[27] It was the band's first album to be released in the United States via ATO Records.[28]

Nonagon Infinity (2016)[edit]

The band's eighth full-length album, Nonagon Infinity, was released worldwide on 29 April 2016.[29] Described by Mackenzie as a "never-ending album", it features nine songs connected by musical motifs which flow "seamlessly" into each other with the last track "linking straight back into the top of the opener like a sonic mobius strip".[30] On the 8th of March the band released a video for the first single, "Gamma Knife".[31] It contained a riff from the song "People Vultures" which was premiered on 4 April[32] with a music video released on 6 May.[33] The album received high praise from critics, with Pitchfork's Stuart Berman writing it "yields some of the most outrageous, exhilarating rock 'n' roll in recent memory."[34] The album also received glowing reviews from numerous other publishers, Happy Mag's Maddy Brown described it as "an intensely striking, ferocious sound that gets the blood flowing and heart racing,"[35] while NME's Larry Bartleet wrote that "If you wanted to, you could listen to it forever in one unbroken melody."[36] The band earned its first ARIA Award when Nonagon Infinity won the 2016 ARIA Award for Best Hard Rock or Heavy Metal Album. In 2019, Nonagon Infinity came at no.2 on Happy Mag's list of "The 25 best psychedelic rock albums of the 2010s".[37]

Five albums in one year (2017)[edit]

We had this random batch of songs. It was not a cohesive record at all. So we thought we'd split it up, and split again until it became five. We worked on Nonagon Infinity pretty intensely in 2015 and 2016. We came close to burning ourselves out, or at least wringing each other's necks. We took a break, and then all these random, disparate song ideas came out of that void of not recording for a little while. Then we worked on everything one album at a time.

Stu Mackenzie, November 2017[38]

The band's ninth full-length album, Flying Microtonal Banana, was recorded in the band's own studio[39] and released on 24 February 2017.[40] Originally conceived as a record to be played on the Turkish baglama (a stringed instrument with movable frets), Flying Microtonal Banana has been described as "a soaring take on microtonal music".[41] Three tracks were issued in advance: "Rattlesnake,"[42] the opening track, in October 2016; "Nuclear Fusion" in December 2016; and "Sleep Drifter" in January 2017.[43][44] The band released a music video for "Rattlesnake", directed by Jason Galea,[45] a video which Happy Mag 's Luke Saunders described as "a masterclass in hypnotism."[46]

Another full-length album, Murder of the Universe, was released on 23 June 2017.[47] Described by the band as a "concept album to end all concepts",[48][49] it is divided into 3 chapters: The Tale of the Altered Beast; The Lord of Lightning vs Balrog; released 30 May 2017; and Han-Tyumi and the Murder of the Universe released 11 April 2017. SPILL magazine explained that the album "describes the impeding doom of the world in a dark fantasy genre kind of way."[50] It is narrated by Leah Senior[51] for the first two chapters, and a text-to-speech program for the final chapter. The band made their international television debut on 17 April 2017 performing "The Lord of Lightning" on Conan on TBS in the United States.[52]

King Gizzard's next full-length album, Sketches of Brunswick East, a collaboration with Alex Brettin's psychedelic jazz project Mild High Club, was released on 18 August 2017.[53] Taking inspiration from Miles Davis' 1960 album Sketches Of Spain, as well as the band's base recording location of Brunswick East in Melbourne, it is a jazz-improvisational album. Mackenzie described the record as "perhaps representing greater changes that are happening in the wider world, and (this is) our attempt to find beauty within a place that we spend so much time", referring to the constant changes in their neighbourhood.[53]

King Gizzard's twelfth studio album, Polygondwanaland, was released as a free download on 17 November 2017. The band encouraged fans and independent record labels to create their own pressings of the album, stating that "[Polygondwanaland] is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Make tapes, make CD's, make records . . . Ever wanted to start your own record label? GO for it! Employ your mates, press wax, pack boxes. We do not own this record. You do. Go forth, share, enjoy."[54] The album was promoted with the release of the first track, "Crumbling Castle", on 18 October 2017. The track received better reviews than their preceding releases of the year, with The Needle Drop describing it as "one of the most epic, multi-faceted, and mystical tracks the band has delivered thus far." A music video created by Jason Galea accompanied its release on YouTube.[55]

Mackenzie confirmed on 7 December 2017 that the fifth and final album to be released in 2017 would be coming "very, very late in the year".[56] Two singles were digitally released less than a week later: "All Is Known", which had previously been performed live; and "Beginner's Luck", an entirely new song.[57][58] These singles were followed by two more, "The Last Oasis" and "Greenhouse Heat Death", both released on the 20th. On 30 December, the band posted on Facebook that Gumboot Soup, their fifth and final album of the year, would be released the following day.[59] Mackenzie explained in an interview that the songs on Gumboot Soup are "definitely not B-sides or anything. They're more songs that didn't work in any of the rest of the four records, or they didn't fit into any of those categories that well, or they came together slightly after when those records came together."[60]

Reissues, Fishing for Fishies and Infest the Rats' Nest (2018–present)[edit]

Throughout 2018, King Gizzard continued to perform live shows, but did not release any new material. Instead, they re-released five older records, the Willoughby's Beach EP (2011), 12 Bar Bruise (2012), Eyes Like the Sky (2013), Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (2013) and Oddments (2014), on CD and vinyl.[61] They also released an official pressing of 2017's Polygondwanaland.[62]

On 21 January 2019, the band announced on their Instagram page that new music was in the works, with an image in a studio of Gareth Liddiard (The Drones, Tropical Fuck Storm) flipping the bird as members of King Gizzard play in the background, which led to some speculation as to Liddiard's possible involvement in the band's new material.[63] On 1 February, the band put out a music video for their new single "Cyboogie" and released the song as a 7 inch single backed with "Acarine".[64] A week later, they announced another North American tour[65] and a show at Alexandra Palace in London which they promised would feature "a new set, new songs and a whole new visual experience", and described as being their biggest ever.

In early March, details of the band's at-the-time announced fourteenth album, Fishing for Fishies, were seemingly leaked onto webstores. The album title, cover and track listing were leaked, as well as 60-second previews and the entirety of the title track, and a release date of 26 April. The band then confirmed this leak on 11 March by officially announcing the album through their Facebook and Instagram accounts with the same release date on 26 April 2019.[66] A day later, the band officially released and uploaded a music video for the title track to YouTube.[67] Later that month, the band released another single from the album, "Boogieman Sam",[68] and on 24 April, two days before the album release, the band released a final single, "The Bird Song". Two days later, Fishing for Fishies was released.[69]

On 9 April, the band released a music video for a new song, "Planet B", a thrash metal song regarding the environment and a distinct departure from the softer sounds of Fishing for Fishies. As this song did not feature on the track listing for Fishing for Fishies, it led to fans speculating it was a selection from a second album to be released in 2019 prior to Mackenzie's later confirmation.[70]

During a Reddit AMA on 30 April, Mackenzie confirmed that the next King Gizzard album was being made and would include "Planet B", but the band had not decided whether or not it would be released in 2019. The album was initially believed to be titled Auto-Cremate due to the band's ambiguous response to a question regarding the use of the title as their username in the AMA, but was later confirmed to be titled Infest the Rats' Nest. Mackenzie also said that the band planned to release a sequel to Eyes Like the Sky featuring a new story written by Broderick Smith and that their Gizzfest festival would be held outside of Australia for the first time in 2019.[71]

Almost a month later on 29 May, a week after a teaser on social media, the band released the music video for a new song, "Self-Immolate", which incorporates a thrash metal style similar to "Planet B".[72] On 18 June, the band posted a teaser on social media that confirmed their new album's title as Infest the Rats' Nest, which was officially announced three days later for a release date of 16 August.[73][74]

On 25 June, they released the single "Organ Farmer", another thrash style similar to "Planet B" and "Self-Immolate". Its music video included fans as extras.[75] Infest the Rats' Nest was later released on 16 August 2019. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2019, Infest the Rats' Nest was nominated for ARIA Award for Best Hard Rock or Heavy Metal Album.[76]

Musical style and influence[edit]

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard has been described as a psychedelic rock,[77][78][79][80][81][82] garage rock,[82] acid rock,[83] progressive rock,[84] psychedelic pop,[29] and indie rock band.[85]

Band members[edit]

  • Stu Mackenzie – vocals, guitar, keyboards, piano, synthesizer, Mellotron, flute, bass guitar, saxophone, clarinet, sitar, zurna, percussion
  • Ambrose Kenny-Smith – vocals, harmonica, keyboards, synthesizer, organ, piano, guitar, percussion
  • Joey Walker – guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, bass guitar, vocals, organ, setar, percussion
  • Cook Craig – guitar, bass guitar, vocals, synthesizer, keyboards
  • Lucas Skinner – bass guitar, keyboards, piano, vocals
  • Michael Cavanagh – drums, percussion, vocals
  • Eric Moore – management, drums, percussion, theremin, keyboards, vocals
Collaborative members
  • John Angus Stewart – visuals
  • Jason Galea – visuals, artwork, layouts

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]