Why should you care about King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard? With the recent release of The Silver Cord, the Australian psychedelic rock band has released 25 albums since they formed in 2010, which averages out to almost two albums per year for 13 years straight. In 2016, King Giz frontman Stu Mackenzie shattered the minds of fans and reviewers alike when he announced that the band would release five albums in just one year and then actually followed through on that promise in 2017. 

Not only does the band have a legendary ability to produce new material, but they also hardly ever repeat themselves. Each project stands on its own as a creative exploration of some new concept or sound. One of the 2017 albums, Polygondwanaland, is a prog rock odyssey complete with Dark Side of the Moon–esque song transitions, while another, Flying Microtonal Banana, explores Eastern microtonal music, making use of intervals smaller than the Western semitone. When it comes to music, King Giz is like a bull in a china shop, smashing into every genre imaginable, from surf rock to garage, heavy metal, electronic, jazz, R&B, folk, and much more.

In the current age of rapid artist turnover, it’s common to see new artists struggle and fail to make enough music to keep up with the modern Spotify user’s insatiable appetite for new music. Often, when new artists do manage to stick around, it’s because the industry forces them to mimic the sound that first made them popular over and over again, resulting in a string of carbon–copy singles, until eventually the sound falls out of popularity and listeners move on. 

So how does King Gizzard manage to release so often, while at the same time, constantly innovating and reinventing themselves? I don’t think we have to look any further than their two 2023 releases, June’s PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation (the title gives you a whiff of the band’s personality without even listening to a second of the music) and The Silver Cord in October. By exploring the relationship between these two albums, King Giz’s secret recipe for musical success begins to reveal itself.

The first release of this year, PetroDragonic, is a full–on trash metal album complete with fuzzed out guitar riffs, low growl vocals, and machine gun kick drums á la Motörhead. The second in a series of apocalyptic sci–fi ragers, following up 2019’s Infest The Rat’s Nest, PetroDragonic prophesies Earth’s destruction due to rampant pollution, humanity’s worship of fossil fuels (“Motor Spirit”), and the occasional unstoppable fire–breathing dragon (“Dragon”). “It’s about humankind and it’s about planet Earth but it’s also about witches and dragons and shit,” says Mackenzie.

However, things switch up in a big way on Silver Cord. The mission statement of this album: techno beats, robotic vocal effects that sound like a crossover between Daft Punk and Radiohead’s Kid A, synths, synths, and more synths. With this project, the band takes a head first dive into the electronic sound they have been flirting on and off with for years, most notably on their synth–pop pandemic album Butterfly 3000, going as far as to include a B–Side of DJ–style extended mixes that’s three times the length of the abridged version. On first listen, Silver Cord couldn’t sound any more different than PetroDragonic, but upon repeated listens, you start to notice weird melodic and lyrical callbacks between the two albums; it’s like musical deja vu.

Both stand at a uniform seven songs each, with the corresponding songs linking up and sharing elements with each other. For example, the same riff from track two of PetroDragonic, “Supercell,” plays throughout Silver Cord’s title track (also track two), only it swaps a guitar for a plucky synth, and shouts of “Gila! Gila!” can be heard on the extended mix of “Gilgamesh,” which sound directly ripped from the vocal track on PetroDragonic’s “Gila Monster.”

So why do these albums steal melodies and vocals from one another, and how does this connection share insight into the band’s creative process? In a recent interview, frontman Stu Mackenzie gets to the heart of King Giz’s musical philosophy: letting the process dictate the final product. All of the small choices that the band makes when creating an album—from choosing to record on tape vs. digital, improvise vs. rehearse, or use new instruments—are allowed to bend and shape songs and inform what genres the band pulls from. Experiments aren’t designed to come up with the best way, he says. “It’s just to prompt creativity. If it’s gonna sound like this, it will change the way we write.”

Silver Cord sounds totally different than PetroDragonic, but the difference isn’t that they came into the studio with really amazing, new, creative song ideas—because Silver Cord literally steals whole riffs and melodic passages from PetroDragonic—the difference is that, this time, the band threw themselves into a studio filled with dozens of vintage synthesizers, instead of electric guitars. They didn’t come in with a fully formed album concept or any illusions of grandeur; they just came in ready to work, trusting that enough time and experimentation would lead to an album.

“I've never tried to say I'm going to make the best record I've ever made,” Mackenzie says. “I've never tried to say I'm going to write the best song I've ever written because I will do nothing. If I say that to myself, I will go hide under my bed and cry.” 

Artists and creatives can learn a lot from King Giz. It’s easy to become unhealthily obsessed with an idea in your head, be it a song idea, character arc, or painting concept. When you believe that an idea is genius and groundbreaking, then it can become incredibly hard to want to materialize it when it’s almost certain the final product won’t hold a candle to your initial ambitions; in the end, nothing gets done.

King Giz’s method is the cure for that writer's block. They show us that real creativity comes from constant fiddling, experimentation, and active creation, not some vague thoughts and concepts—like your “movie ideas” list still sitting dormant in the Notes app after all these years. The band’s near–mythical output and commercial success (they are set to headline London’s Wide Awake festival in 2024) is all the proof we need to see that their creative philosophy pays off.

There’s no telling where the band will go next after this year's two characteristically weird albums, but we can be fairly sure that it won’t take too long to find out.