Since getting together as a joke about a year ago, Melbourne's tongue-twisting cool kids King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
have established a reputation almost as memorable as their name. Sporting seven members, the band creates a manic brand of scuzzy psych-garage rock that, quite simply, kicks serious arse.
Accuse us of being hyperbolic if you will, but in our opinion, if you haven’t seen them yet, you haven’t lived. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s chaotic live shows (they were booked for Meredith Music Festival on the strength of one gig) see the band thrash, writhe and groove, with members and instruments often ending up in the audience mid-jam. We caught up with Eric, who can be identified during their live shows as the one crawling around the stage while playing an instrument which makes him resemble a magician trying to communicate with aliens.
Hey Eric, I have to say, you probably play the coolest instrument in the band.
I’m not sure when [the theramin] was invented, but I think it’s a really, really old instrument. You can play it technically and make it sound like a violin, playing notes and stuff, but I just hit it and make noise, pretty much. I kind of just copy Jon Spencer (from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
). You don’t actually touch the instrument – it’s using magnetic fields, or some shit – around it. I don’t really understand it, I just run around, shake it really hard and see what comes out of it.
The theramin reminds me of the theme to Midsomer Murders
. How did you get into it?
I saw Jon Spencer at Big Day Out a few years ago when he came out and I was like, “What the hell is that instrument?” Actually, what happened is, when we started Gizzard, me and Cavs were both drummers and we couldn’t be bothered setting up two drum kits all the time. So I started playing the floor tom and the theramin on the side next to Cavs and it kind of stuck.
Respected Australian muso Broderick Smith is your harmonicist Ambrose’s dad. Does music run in your blood?
Not really. I grew up listening to a lot of music; mum and dad always had good stuff at home. I’m from a small country town so you couldn’t go out to a record shop and see what the latest stuff was; you had to source it yourself. I was always on the internet finding new music. There are no actual musicians in the family – I’m probably the first. [Singer] Stu’s dad played guitar and Stu always talks about when he was a baby his dad used to always play Paul Kelly songs, and now they’re kind of ingrained in him. It’s really weird, he grew up listening to these chord patterns and now it’s… in his blood, or something.
You’ve been landing some huge gigs lately – Big Day Out, Boogie, Meredith, supporting Girl Talk... What’s been your favourite experience?
Meredith was unbelievable. Before that we’d been playing around Melbourne a fair bit but we hadn’t done a whole heap, and we just got this opportunity, which is why I love Meredith. Not many festivals are willing to take a risk on a band that’s kind of unknown, whereas Meredith can do that. It’s incredible. Especially for us – it gave us the biggest kick-start. Once it came through we couldn’t believe it and we were like, “We’ve got to get our act together now and actually become an okay band”. Once we played, it was the best feeling.
Playing Meredith is a pretty big deal. Were you well behaved?
Um, I think we were. The Friday night was pretty crazy because we got a really good rider and were all absolutely buzzing after we got off stage. The whole festival was really fun. I guess we partied, but didn’t get too wild.
Apparently Lucas is allergic to his own sweat.
[laughs] How do you get all this goss? Yeah, he is. When he sweats his face goes really puffy and red. It’s quite funny. Stu’s allergic to all fruit, so if he has any fruit at all, especially mangos or any of those exotic ones, his whole body gets this massive rash. I don’t know if we should be going into this, these personal details of every member [laughs].
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are often compared to Black Lips. Has there been any Black Lips style pashing between band members going on?
[laughs] Definitely not onstage. But we all get a little bit loving when we’re all together, after a few beers, so I’m not sure. We’re a very close band.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened onstage?
Before our EP launch (2011’s Willoughby’s Beach
) at the Tote, Stu was horrendously sick. He was spewing up everywhere. It think it was that show when he was chundering onstage, everywhere. There was another time at the Tote when he was really drunk or something and was like, “Oh man, I’m gonna throw up”. And he just made himself throw up on the drum kit, which was disgusting. Other than that I don’t know of anything ‘wild’ that’s happened. We’re not that
crazy. We’re pretty tame… most of the time.
Well, all your cover art and posters are pretty crazy. Who’s behind the wacky designs?
EM: We met this guy, Ishan, who used to hang around the Nash [the National Hotel in Geelong] and he’d done the artwork on the walls there. That’s where all of the guys grew up playing, and were like (puts on a deep, jokingly mocking voice) “it’s the coolest artwork”. One day we got onto him and asked if he could design the EP cover. He absolutely loved the idea and went crazy. The latest artwork was [from] these two dudes in the US - I think called T-Bone and Ajax – who design some really awesome stuff for bands. They’re really sick. [We asked them to] make it really fried and a bit crazy and psycho, and they came up with that, which was perfect.
My favourite song is ‘Blacktooth
’, who or what is ‘Blacktooth’?
‘Blacktooth’, the song itself, Stu just wrote it and came up with those words, but we’ve always got this joke. There used to be a group of kids who hung around in Deni (Deniliquin) in high school called the ‘Ratpack’. They’ve all got these hilarious nicknames and one was ‘Blacktooth’. When we were jamming the songs out in Deni, Stu was just singing the words and we were like “oh, this is hilarious”. We started laughing about the Ratpack and were like, “let’s call it Blacktooth!” It’s fitting because he’s talking about brushing his teeth and that sort of thing.
Does Blacktooth actually have black teeth?
I don’t know. That was just his nickname. I think he’s either in jail or… if he’s not, I’m really scared that I’ve said this because he’s gonna come after me.
You guys are recording an album!
We’re doing it with Paul Maybury at his warehouse. We became really good mates with him and we like his setup; the warehouse is cool. A few weekends ago we went in for a day and recorded nine songs straight up and then worked on the overdubs for a while. That’s where the new single ‘Bloody Ripper’ came from. We’re going in again this weekend. We’ll probably do another nine or ten songs, and work on them for a period of time. All up, we’ll probably have around 20 tracks to choose from. We’ll pick the best ones, and yeah, that’ll be the album.
KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD TOUR
Friday 4 May – The National Hotel, Geelong
Saturday 5 May – The Edinburgh Castle, Adelaide
Thursday 10 May – Goodgod Small Club, Sydney
Saturday 12 May – Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
Saturday 19 May – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Everguide is giving away tickets to all these shows, just follow this link.