Published in The Music (WA) | 18.09.13 | Issue # 6
THE MAGIC FORMULA
From releasing a spaghetti-western concept album to drafting plans for a futuristic Blade Runner soundtrack, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard thereminist Eric Moore is at war with the boundaries of psychedelic surf punk. Daniel Cribb follows to the frontline.
Trying to define the direction of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is just about as hard as saying their name out loud ten times in row – go on, try it. They’ve labeled themselves as “surf psych punk someshit”, which seems to do the job.
Their latest record, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, is their second for 2013, but thereminist Eric Moore still feels like the band could be doing more. A September release for something recorded in February is pretty standard, but not for King Gizz. Being completely independent – to the point where they record everything at home and various warehouses – they usually release whatever they record as soon as it’s done, but this time they took a different approach.
“This record has a little more depth,” Moore explains. “Eyes Like The Sky came out in February, so we just wanted to let that breathe before we started bombarding people with anything else…we spent a bit more time with the songs and there’s lots of different writers – like Cook [Craig], our guitarist, he has a song on there, Ambrose Kenny-Smith [harmonica] has a track as well, so it’s quite varied and not so much straight up garage punk; it’s a lot more soulful and there’s a lot more going on.
“We’ve always tried to get better and progress. The first recordings we ever did were just basic and simple, like one chord and a few words and I guess with everything we’ve done since then we’ve tried to grow and progress as a band, and I feel like now we’re just coming into our own and finding our own sound and where we want to be at, which is really cool.”
With album opener and first single Head On/Pill clocking in at around 16 minutes, they’re clearing on a mission to challenge the conventions of psychedelic surf punk. A lot of producers and labels would condemn the idea of such a song opening a record – an unfortunate reality that led them to being the independent band they are. “It could never really be a radio single,” he laughs. “When we finished that song, we thought it was the best thing we’d ever done, so it’s nice to have it opening the album. It could have closed, but then people would sort of look over it.”
With more writers contributing to the album, it’s clear collaboration is the band’s key to success. Paul Maybury of Rocket Science fame, who worked on the band’s debut EP, 12 Bar Bruise, helped produce the epic 16-minute opener, and they kidnapped Eagle & The Worm’s Jarrad Brown for a few weeks to engineer the rest.
Why rent a house and pay someone else’s mortgage if you can find a way buy your own? Moore and co have a similar mindset when it comes to music; if you’re in it for the long haul, it makes sense to invest your money a little closer to home rather than forking out thousands of dollars every time you want to release something.
“Over the years with band money we’ve kind of collected a bit of recording gear, so now we’ve got it to a point where we’re happy with the quality we can produce ourselves. We went down to my home in Deniliquin, Victoria. My mum and dad were away so we just took over the house and took all our own gear and we bought a good friend, Jarrod from Eagle & The Worm. He kind of helped out with setting up all the stuff and engineering, and we spent a week down there recording and got a bunch done and then we sort of scrapped heaps and then did another session about two months later, and Jarrod came again, and did a similar thing and then we sort of finished it all off at home with Stu [Mackenzie, vocals] doing most of it.”
With two releases under their belt for 2013, you’d expect another on slaughter of tracks to pour out before the end of the year; unfortunately, it seems the band my recede into the shadows for a while – hopefully to work on what sounds like an amazing follow-up to February’s Eyes Like The Sky – a spaghetti-western concept album that quickly saw the nation taking note of their interesting approach to songwriting.
“We’ve been talking to [The Dingoes’] Brod Smith who we collaborated with on Eyes Like The Sky and he’s really keen to do a follow-up, which would be really cool. I guess we’ll have to work out a direction. I think he’s already written a few chapters for the next one, but I’m not sure. It’d be cool to do something the complete opposite – instead of a western maybe we’ll do some futuristic Blade Runner soundtrack type thing. It would be nice to follow Eyes Like up in some description, but it would be a bit lame to do Eyes Like The Sky 2, we’d have to do something a bit different I think.
“We’ve sort of got a collection of songs that got left behind over the past two years and we want to put them out on some form of release, so we kind of want to put them together and put that out soon, but I guess with the next thing, we’ll probably take a bit more time and figure out where we want to go with it. It’s been a pretty hectic 12 months writing and recording, so I think it’ll be nice to take a bit of time away from it.”
WHAT: Float Along – Fill Your Lungs (Flightless Records)