Home Music Music Features

50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #47: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Josh Healey of West Thebarton and Sleep Talk looks at Melbourne’s prolific psych-rock collective, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Ash Mar; Nick Astanei*

In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.

In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.

50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #47: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (by Josh Healey of West Thebarton and Sleep Talk)

Everyone has their own idea of the “perfect band”. That idea of perfection may be in a form of songwriting, artwork, or their live performances. For me, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard symbolises perfection. A huge chunk of that perfection is in their freedom to do anything they damn well please. Their diehard (and sometimes scary) fanbase get behind anything the band does. From surf-garage-rock to jazz-improv, to thrash metal, King Gizz nail every genre they infiltrate and blow the competition out of the park. 

It usually takes around ten years for a band to really get going and begin their career. In ten years, King Gizz has released 16 albums, which is unachievable for most. I caught their set at Falls Festival Lorne 2012, a midday slot, to a spacious crowd of punters during the December heat in the cauldron that the Falls Lorne site is. I believe their appearance was in support of 12 Bar Bruise, their first LP. It was a pretty cool show; surf, rock, pop, noise (whatever) ditties that stuck with you throughout the rest of the day. Little did I know that would be one of the only shows I would see with such a spacious crowd.

“For me, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard symbolises perfection.”

West Thebarton has played with Gizz a bunch. Our first show with them was at Jive, in Adelaide. A 300-ish capacity room with a mezzanine for higher viewing. From what I recall, the Jive show was in support of Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, which features the classic 16-minute “Head On/Pill” epic.

I remember being in awe throughout the entire show, glued to each member for the entirety of the set. They kicked off with “Head On/Pill” and finished the set with a reprise of the opener. The perfect ending to a show and a memory that’ll always stick with me. We played at the first Gizzfest outside of Victoria and shared many festivals with the band over the years. It’s always a pleasure to be on a lineup with them. 

I remember being that much of a Gizz-head that I bought a Yamaha SGV300, a reissue model of Stu McKenzie’s notable ‘Samurai’ guitar. A fun but regrettable purchase. The reissue isn’t that good. 

As a record collector, I luckily got into collecting Gizz records very early on. To be quite honest, I could probably sell all my Gizz records and have enough for a house deposit. Having said that, anyone want to sell me the Willoughby’s Beach 10”? Ray from West Thebarton has the original pressing – the only one I am missing. That bastard. 

What I love most about King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is that they never fail to surprise you. I could watch them every night for the rest of my life and their set will be different each time. Every new record guarantees that you will listen to nothing else for the next month, and love every second of it. Hit repeat – always. Especially on Nonagon Infinity… they are the perfect band.