The new King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard album, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs, opens with a song called ‘Head On/Pill’ that is 16 entire minutes long. You could do a lot of things in 16 minutes. You could very thoroughly hard-boil several eggs in that time. But a far better use of those minutes would actually be to listen to this lengthy psychedelic freak-out jam. “That is the most intense song on the album,” as frontman Stu Mackenzie describes it, “but I suppose it does start the album off – like it introduces you to the album, a bit.”

That it does. It’s like a warning sign in front of a rollercoaster ride: ‘You must be at least this into lengthy sitar wig-outs to ride.’ “I didn’t want to put it at the end of the album,” says Mackenzie. “I think when you put a long song at the end of the album people tend to skip over it or think it’s the boring song, or like the long cliché epic last track of the album. I wanted it to be the opposite of that.”

Lengthy epics are a specialty for King Gizzard, who recently played a house party in Brisbane during which they performed a single song that lasted for half an hour. Then they said, “That’s it!” and left. When they’re not on stage they’re a different beast, however, one less prone to swirly improvisation and more into the hard graft of constructing songs like Lego blocks. “It was quite a recording project,” Mackenzie says. “It wasn’t a case of us getting together and jamming, figuring out songs in rehearsal and then recording them. It was more a case of us setting up a recording [studio] in wherever, in like a shed or a bedroom or whatever, and figuring out little tiny ideas as we go and adding to them, and the recordings expanding and changing as they go … It was very much a recording project first and foremost. None of the songs were really played before we recorded them or anything. They were just recordings for this album.”

That piecemeal, studio-focused method of songwriting has made for a killer set of sounds but also given the band some trouble now they’ve begun performing them live. During recording, one member of the seven-piece might play drums, bass and guitar on the same song, while another plays all the keyboards. Other band members aren’t on certain songs at all. “It’s a real higgledy-piggledy mash of who played what on the album so getting in and rehearsing and figuring out how to actually play the songs has been really, really hard. Working out, ‘I’m gonna play this guitar part’ and ‘Who played that one? Alright, well you have to play keyboard in this song,’ or, ‘Alright, you give me that acoustic guitar.’ It’s been very challenging putting it all together so I think that’s the main thing we’re focusing on: trying to play it.”

Somehow, even though they’ve been busy pulling their live show together, King Gizzard have also managed to assemble a significant chunk of the next album already. “We’ve been working on new stuff,” Mackenzie says. “We’ve kind of got another album that we’re gonna release later – maybe next year – mostly done. I’ve been working on that a lot, recording and writing new songs. We don’t really get to chill out that much.” They may seem like a relaxed bunch of dudes, but Mackenzie makes them sound like workaholics. “It’s a bit of an OCD thing; we’re a bit obsessed. It’s really fun, making records.”

BY JODY MACGREGOR

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard play The Standard on Saturday November 2.Float Along – Fill Your Lungsout Friday September 27 through Flightless/Dot Dash.

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