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How King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Went from a Joke to Must-See Psych

What started as one-word songs has turned into an international touring career.EXPAND
What started as one-word songs has turned into an international touring career.
Jamie Wdziekonski

Hailing all the way from Melbourne, Australia, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a psychedelic garage-rock ensemble hitting Phoenix for the very first time. With their most recent record, Flying Microtonal Banana, they experiment with songs in microtonal tuning, which is sonically unusual and trippy.

Microtones are a departure from Western sounds. They’re considered dissonant, small intervals. Songs like “Doom City” and “Open Water” demonstrate the wild oblivion of thematic voyages of sound and back-pocket jams.

Tracks on the new record have repetitive patterns with small changes that build sonic energy and yet have an entrancing quality. High-pitched tones paired with melodic riffs give a ritualistic feeling. The whole record is like a shamanic ceremony working to summon psychedelic-rock spirits and rattle bodies with dance. The opening tune, “Rattlesnake,” is the perfect example of this repetitive boogie. The trippy flute and surf guitar act as a bit of a snake charmer.

The seven-member band includes three guitarists and two drummers, as well as bass and fuzz harmonica players. Their electrifying performance incites instant movement and craze. It’s an absolute groove train. Their concerts ignite moshing, crowd-surfing, and the like.

More than your dime-a-dozen psych-rock band, King Gizzard absolutely slays and delivers. With an insane catalog of records already, LPs like I’m on Your Mind Fuzz are a great place to start exploring the garage-rock Gizzard sound.

Uniquely enough, the band started out as a bit of a joke, playing one-word, one-chord songs together at parties around Melbourne. The band realized they actually had quite a bit of fun playing together, and started writing and playing together more officially. Just like that, the Gizzard journey began.

Starting out playing small venues, King Gizzard was like a secret that could not be kept from the world. Even just a few years after I’m on Your Mind Fuzz was released, the venues Gizzard played became larger. They quickly sold out shows all across their tours.

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These Aussies are no strangers to the road, as they have toured incessantly around Australia, Europe, and the United States the past few years. The band has also created their very own festival: Gizz Fest. Taking place the past two Novembers, the festival caravans around different cities in Australia. There is a boatload of psych-rock bands on the bill from the U.K., U.S., Australia, and more.

King Gizzard are the ultimate DIY badasses. Not only did they make their own festival, but they are also dedicated to constantly recording, often in an analog capacity. They continue to press vinyl, and create goofy, yet radical, trippy music videos often with the help of their friend Jason Galea, a visual artist. One of their recent videos “People Vultures” off their last album, Gamma Knife, received praise from legendary film director Alejandro Jodorowsky (Holy Mountain).

Consistently evolving and keeping it fresh, Flying Microtonal Banana shows there are no sonic boundaries for this band. The day before releasing their new record, King Gizzard already teased their next project: “Murder of the Universe.”

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard will play at Crescent Ballroom on Wednesday, April 19.

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