If you’ve ever loved a band so much that you feel inclined to persuade random strangers to come out to their show – with no motive other than wanting to share their gloriously unpredictable sound – then you get why this article exists. Guys: somehow, there are still tickets available for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s upcoming concert at NYC’s SummerStage on August 28th. We’re talking an outdoor show in Central Park with one of the most mind-blowing bands on the planet (and surely any other planets they might have visited), right while they’re in flux between the alternate realities of blues rock and thrash metal they’ve been exploring this year. Some SummerStage tickets can still be found here, and fellow Aussie rockers Stonefield and ORB are opening, in case you need further convincing. We also have reason to believe this will be an especially thrashy and uninhibited show from the boys.
It’s no secret that we’re religious followers of the prolific Australian psych rockers, who recently announced another new LP for 2019, marking their fifteenth studio album in just seven years. Entitled Infest the Rats’ Nest and scheduled for release on August 16th, the record takes a sharp turn into thrash metal that we’re hungry to experience, based upon the heavy tendencies they’ve displayed in past releases – and of course, the sick new singles they’ve unveiled: “Planet B,” “Self-Immolate,” and “Organ Farmer.” Being that we’re big fans of their fast and furious side, we’ve been soaking up these new songs the way their matching orange outfits soak up flammable liquids in the fun-yet-terrifying videos accompanying the new releases. In case you are understandably unable to keep up and still busy Fishing with Fishies (a.k.a. spinning the killer new record they just put out in April), things have been getting pretty violent and fiery in the Gizzverse.
Adding to the suspense as we await Infest the Rats’ Nest, the band recently wiped all images from their Instagram page and started fresh to welcome the new album – its cover created by longtime badass artist Jason Galea, of course. While King Gizzard already seem like pros at whipping up the insanely fast-paced riffs and vicious rhythms found in their latest singles, frontman Stu Mackenzie has been open about the newness of the genre for them. “We couldn’t have made this record until this year,” he explained. “We’ve had this progression of records influenced by heavy metal, but they’ve never been heavy metal. It’s been this energy we’ve never learned how to play, because we learned to play from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.” The record is reportedly influenced by Metallica and Slayer, as well as bands like Exodus, Kreator and Overkill.
“In year 4 there was an older kid who was into Rammstein,” Mackenzie said recently. “I made friends with him and we put together a performance at our school assembly where we headbanged to ‘Du Hast’. I got whiplash, which I thought was pretty cool. That was my introduction to heavy metal, and soon Rammstein led to Metallica, Metallica led to Slayer, Slayer led to Kreator and Sodom. The German bands really kicked my ass and scared the hell out of me too. Later on, when I picked up a guitar I realised that shit was too hard to play, so I got into rock ‘n’ roll and garage. That was liberating.”
The recurring environmental themes that seem to be brewing on Infest the Rats’ Nest can be detected in King Gizzard’s newest songs. “Planet B” – which cleverly, was released as a B-side – “tells the story of a group of rebels who are forced to leave Planet Earth and try to settle on Venus,” as Mackenzie said in a press release. “I spend a lot of time thinking about the future of humanity and the future of Planet Earth. Naturally these thoughts seep into the lyrics.” “Self-Immolate” seems to compare mankind’s effect on global warming to the literal act of setting oneself on fire. As he explained, “it’s set in the near future and is about real shit going on right now – especially ecological disaster.” And “Organ Farmer” – well, we’ll leave that one to you guys to interpret, but the imagery of a “human laboratory,” organ thievery, and total gore certainly add to the impending doom.
Intriguingly, this metal exploration features less than half of the seven-man band, for “tight arrangements and maximum velocity,” as they explained in a press release, adding, “The band have always enjoyed a fluid approach to writing and recording.” On Infest the Rats’ Nest, Mackenzie and Joey Walker handle all the guitar and bass parts, with only Michael Cavanagh on drums, due to both personal and work commitments of their bandmates – “with guitarist Cook Craig and keyboardist/harmonic player Ambrose Kenny-Smith touring with their other band The Murlocs, bassist Lucas Skinner enjoying first-time fatherhood and drummer Eric Moore running the band’s own label Flightless [Records].”
Even if you’ve not yet warmed up to their metal or car-destroying tendencies, there are many reasons to be excited for the setlist possibilities on this Gizzard tour. If you’re really freaked about finding yourself in a metal show, remember two things: 1) Central Park provides plenty of space for you to circumvent the moshing that will likely ensue near the front, and 2) a King Gizzard show is never consistent in genre, vibe, or song selection. Their active fan group has been flipping whenever someone reveals that “Tezeta” (from jazzy Miles Davis-inspired 2017 album Sketches of Brunswick East) has popped up on this tour, with good reason. Recent setlists have been seriously enticing. Consider their latest show in Sydney, during which they cooked up an insane run of freak-out moments: from “Organ Farmer” right into the much-loved rager “Am I in Heaven?” followed by Fishies’ awesome “Plastic Boogie,” “This Thing” and “The Bird Song,” punctuated by Gizz classic “Work This Time.“ All of that happened early on in the 19-song set – in fact, right after they showcased unreleased songs “Mars for the Rich” and “Venusian 2” from Infest the Rats’ Nest. If their shows abroad are any indicator, we should be in for a nice mix of new material peppered with past-album surprises. If we still haven’t convinced you to come Gizz out with us at SummerStage (tickets here, don’t forget), check out some of our KGATLW show reviews from over the years. Truth be told, we’ll never be the same after having watched their sound come together live, and that’s why we’re always craving more of it.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Cover Image: Shayne Hanley