Features

King Gizzard: ?It?s A Very Democratic Band

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have followed up last year’s psych-garage debut with a spaghetti western audiobook. FREYA JONES asks frontman Stu Mackenzie why.


How do you bypass the sophomore slump? By making an audiobook about a Mexican-Irish boy kidnapped by Native Americans, of course. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s second album Eyes Like The Sky* transports the listener into a psychedelic spaghetti western, pairing the seven-piece’s garage rock with the silver-tongued narration of The Dingoes? Broderick Smith. It’s the band’s second release in just six months, following 2012 debut *12 Bar Bruise*, which cracked the Top 10 of *M+N*?s annual [Readers Poll](/articles/4546172). And they show no signs of slowing down, either. As frontman Stu Mackenzie told *M+N, there’s another album on the horizon in the second half of 2013.

Why a spaghetti western audiobook?
I think it just seemed like a fun challenge. We did a track on 12 Bar Bruise, which was in a similar-ish theme. It started off as, ?Hey, we should try and do a whole record like this with one big narrative.? That’s kind of the beginnings of it, I suppose. But it’s totally separate from that song that was just the spark.

You recorded this one entirely at home is that right?
Yeah, nothing too fancy or anything. Kind of whatever we could do with bits of borrowed gear and just fucking around with equipment and stuff.

How did you come up with each of the songs? Did you work closely with Broderick Smith or was it more of an individual process?
Well, it was sort of a little bit back and forth. We didn’t actually see Brod face to face for the whole time. We just kind of talked over the phone about it – I think we recorded a couple of the songs, which ended up being a couple of the first tracks on the album before any of the story was written. We talked to Brod and pitched the idea and we just had these rough ideas with a couple of the tracks. They helped inspire the very start of the story. Brod sent through some of the story and the next part of the story inspired the next couple of tracks. The story wasn’t written from start to finish. It was very much written with the music. If we did a new track that might inspire the next part of the story.

What is it about spaghetti westerns that inspired you to make this kind of album?
I just like the style. I’m kind of obsessed with heaps of ?60s type culture – That’s where it stems from. It’s not too dissimilar to heaps of other music that I like as well. Brod is also super into that kind of thing, super obsessed with westerns. I knew he would want to write the story. It just kind of made sense more than anything.

Do you have a favourite western film?
I’m a sucker for classics. I kind of like anything with Clint Eastwood in it. But there was also more modern inspirations for it too. Even Dead Man, the Johnny Depp film which Neil Young did the soundtrack for, which is a really cool, later western. I think a lot of it was not necessarily inspired by music but more inspired by what sounds should happen in this part of the story. When the music is cowboys and Indians shooting each other and riding horses and doing that kind of shit, that sort of music naturally makes sense.


Year Of Our Lord by flightless


Were you at all worried about the album not being as accessible as 12 Bar Bruise?
I think it’s definitely not as accessible but I’m not worried about that. I think the next album we do will be very different to Eyes Like The Sky*, and very different to *12 Bar Bruise as well.

Have you started planning your next album already?
Yeah, we’ve sort of mostly recorded it already. It’s not finished but we’ve mostly been doing that over the last month or so. It’s another thing I’m really excited about which is cool.

Can you elaborate at all on the sound of the next album?
It’s probably a bit of a generic thing to say, but it’s more experimental in nature than 12 Bar Bruise. But it’s still garage-y, psych-y type shit with drums and guitars. There’s lots of keyboards on it. We all wrote it together a lot more than we ever have before. Lots of jams on it, too.

Being a seven-piece, do you try to incorporate all of your individual music tastes into the songs?
Yeah, it’s a very democratic band. Everybody is very good friends and gets along very well and if anyone wants to do anything they can sort of do whatever they want. It can be hard with seven people, but we are lucky that we all share pretty much the same musical tastes and are very open to whatever.

Eyes Like The Sky has been receiving some [pretty great reviews](/releases/2001189). Are you surprised that people have taken to the idea so well?
I am surprised. I really had no idea how the album would be received, so that’s kind of cool. We also just kind of chucked it out there more than we ever have before just to see what people would think of it. It’s obviously really hard to play live, so it’s sort of a weird one. It’s been a complete recording project rather than anything else. I think we even toyed up doing it under a different moniker but I’m glad we didn’t. It’s very different.


The God Mans Goat Lust by flightless


You’re [supporting The Drones in April](/news/4560957) – Are they a big influence?
Yeah, but not directly. They’re the kind of band that are so distinct in what they do that they’re kind of hard to be super-influenced by because they just are The Drones. I don’t know how else to explain it. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I love that band a lot.

Do you plan to incorporate any of the songs from Eyes Like The Sky into your live sets in the future?
Yeah, I want to do a show further on down the line and try to play the album top to bottom with Brod as a big set. But that’s something that’s a bit far off at the minute. That can be something we can work on in the future. We’ll play a few songs off it here and there, but it’s tricky.

It seems like the kind of album that needs to be heard in its entirety.
Yeah, that’s my kind of thing. I feel like if we ever do just play one song it’s just a bit shit, it’s not what it’s meant to be.

Will you consider similar concepts in the future?
Maybe. I’m open to that, if that concept comes our way. I want to do a follow-up one day. He [the protagonist] was pretty young at the end of the story so it’s got plenty of time for him to go on other adventure.

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##[‘Eyes Like the Sky’](/releases/2001189) is out now through Flightless/Fuse. King Gizzard are touring with The Drones [as we speak](/news/4560957).