I have the distinct privilege of having played my trusty Hagstrom II guitar (quite badly) in several Long Island-based garage bands back in the day. All these bands strictly adhered to the maxim “fun first, musicianship second.” Our cover versions were not guided by deliberate fidelity to the originals and our own original music — well, we did not have any original music. The main objective was to hang out together, make some noise, take a break for beers usually acquired through a fake ID, or pass around a joint of dubious quality before we got back to making more noise. We were comrades in fun, and when the fun ended, we did. For example, one garage platoon where I played rhythm guitar disbanded when, after a trip to the Carvel soft-serve ice cream shop, our bass player tossed an extra-large chocolate thick-shake float at one of our lead guitarists. Words were exchanged, and that was that.
It’s no surprise that the musical pride of Melbourne, Australia — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (abbreviated KGLW) — began as a garage band unapologetically making garage rock. And they still embody that sensibility beautifully. Their stage presence is casual and unpretentious, which also carries on to their recorded work. They are having raucous good fun, and their enthusiasm is infectious.
But there’s another aspect to all this unstudied goofiness and merriment: their work ethic is unmatched by any other band, with the possible exception of Creedence Clearwater Revival in their two active years of recording and touring. Since 2011, when they released their debut EP Anglesea, they have released 24 studio albums, 15 live albums, 5 compilations, and 1 remix album. Moreover, KGLW has crossed musical genres faithfully with each release, ranging from the raw garage rock of 12-Bar Bruise, to the thrash metal of Infest the Rat’s Nest, the blues-boogie harmonica-heavy Fishing for Fishies, the folk-rock of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, the psychedelic jazz of Sketches of Brunswick East and Quarters, the Turkish influenced microtonal music of Flying Microtonal Banana, the prog-rock of Nonagon Infinity (which, Finnegans Wake style, loops back from its end to its beginning), and last but not least, Omnium Gatherum, which showcases all of the above genres. And then some.