Andrew Wright was on his way home when his aux chord started bugging out. Stranded in silence, he grimly turned to his only other available musical option – commercial radio. He switched it on, and found himself in the dead centre of in what he could only describe as a “’50s or ’60s style” song, an extended freak-out stuffed with “Beach Boy-esque vocals [and] sick guitar melodies.”
“Sweet,” he thought. “triple j are playing some older stuff.” But a moment later, the sludgey, psychedelic song ground to a halt, and the gravelly tones of the host clipped back in. “That was ‘God Is In The Rhythm’,” came the voice, “the brand new song from King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard.” From that point on, Wright was hooked – or, as he himself puts it, he “fell in love.”
It’s funny how often that word comes up when talking to King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard fans – or Gizzheads, as they affectionately call themselves. No matter how they were introduced to the Australian psych-rock band – whether it be via Bandcamp, as for longtime fan Colin Campbell, or just flipping through their local record store, as for Nicholas Delesdernier – so many describe the electric feeling that coursed through their bodies when they first encountered a King Gizz song as a kind of love.
“It was a sort of ‘meant to be’ moment,” Delesdernier explains. American fan Sean Bradley agrees. “I instantly fell in love with everything about them,” he explains. And Nathan Farrall, a longtime Gizzhead, puts it even simpler: “the band smacked me so fucking hard in the face,” he says.
King Gizz fand are definitely some of the most passionate in the world (Image credit: Brianna Elton)
Needless to say, that kind of love is contagious, and many Gizzheads have found themselves introduced to the mercilessly prolific act through the recommendation of a friend – or, in the case, of Ella Howells, an enemy. “I first got into them in like 2012 when this horrible guy in year eight said they were his favourite band. Because he liked them, I thought I would hate them just as much I hated him, but then I listened to them and have loved them since.”
By contrast, for Peter Emms, the point of contact was a friend’s (slightly drunk) dad. “I was ’round my mate’s place having some drinks and a jam, and then out of nowhere my mate’s dad started making this huge noise from outside,” Emms explains.
“He was going, ‘Kane, fucking come outside and listen to this! You too, Peter.’ So we go out there and his dad is punching back Carlton Drys like there’s no tomorrow, and he’s blasting ‘Head On/Pill.’ Holy fuck it was sick. He made us listen to the whole song as well.”
Every Gizzhead remembers the first time they heard the band’s music
Given the whacked-out nature of the band’s sound, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some fans were in chemically altered headspaces while making that first, magic moment of contact with King Gizz. One anonymous fan listened to the group’s 2015 masterpiece Quarters in full while tripping acid at their parent’s house. Jamie Steele, another longtime admirer, first encountered the band’s music while a little pissed at an underground Scottish rave.
“The DJ was playing shitty techno,” Steele says, “so I left to find some better music. I met this guy who was just carrying around a boombox – he played ‘The River’ and then the entirety of I’m In Your Mind Fuzz. I was instantly hooked.”
It’s also worth mentioning, of course, that band name. How could you not? It’s the kind of moniker as likely to inspire the derision of squares as it is the delight of oddballs – with the latter category, of course, being King Gizz’s prime target market.
“A friend of mine has a recurring “Band Name of the Day” thing on Facebook, where he posts funny words or puns that he hears or makes up,” says Gizzhead Jill Harris. “As a result, we’re always tuned in to creative names, and when ‘King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’ came up on one of the blog radio shows on Sirius XMU like, two years ago, you can imagine how that stuck in our world.
“Then, as it turned out, our local Indianapolis cool music venue the HI-FI Indy, happened to have an early, early date on the Nonagon Infinity tour in 2016. My friend and I were like, ‘holy shit, that’s that band!”
Even those initially suspicious of such a verbose, wormy moniker have found themselves won over. Young fan Charlie O’Mohoney might have first “burst into tears of laughter” when he heard triple j’s Matt and Alex introducing a song called ‘Hot Wax’ by a band called King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, but before long he was hooked.
With a stage cluttered with so many instruments, a King Gizz gig is always something to behold
And make no mistake: they’re all hooked, Gizzheads. They await new releases; they congregate online in nourshing, welcome spaces like The Official King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard Facebook fanpage; and, in the case of creatives like Adeline Musters, they even transform them love for the band into art.
And they see shows. They see shows wherever they can, following King Gizz across countries and even continents, organising pilgrimages to whatever space the band chooses to play. “I never wanted the shows to end,” says Alison Wiley. “They’re mesmerizing. The double drums. The harmonica. The upside-down guitar playing from Stu [Mackenzie, lead singer.] It’s all so fantastic.”
It’s a little bit terrifying too, of course, particularly whenever Mackenzie instructs the thronging, packed moshpits at the front of the stage to take things up a notch. “They have endless energy, all of them,” says Casey Craig of the band, and King Gizz certainly expect the same thing of their audience. “The shows are so cramped, so sweaty and hectic,” says fan Paul Nguyen.
But no matter how wild shows get – no matter how physical, and how so draining – for Gizzheads, every bruise, every stepped-upon toe is worth it. It didn’t matter to young fan Lisa Lee when she lost her shoes during a crowdsurf, for example, or when she found herself forced to brave the moshpit without protection for her feet. “I was bruised and sore for two weeks,” she says. “But I loved it.”
That, ultimately, is what it means to be a Gizzhead – to have that level of dedication, and that level of adoration. To outsiders it might seem sappy – maybe even a little bit mental – but for the fans, it makes perfect sense to care that much for King Gizz; to dedicate so much energy to a band of strangers you have come to know as well as some of your closest friends.Write a Letter to the Editor