“We got the wah-wah pedals to make our fuzzed-out guitar solos be more wild and more all over the place,” says Joey Walker, one of King Gizzard’s three guitarists, “but I quickly realized there is so much more you can do with it.” Photo by Matt Condon

With three guitarists in King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, the onus is on each player to keep things under control while maintaining some semblance of sonic identity. “I have my wah pedal on the whole time during a set,” guitarist Joey Walker says about how he distinguishes his tone. “I roll off tone or find color within my tone, judging by how forward or far back my wah pedal is. I also like to get a constant oscillating thing going, which is quick vibrations on the wah pedal. We got the wah-wah pedals to make our fuzzed-out guitar solos be more wild and more all over the place, but I quickly realized there is so much more you can do with it. I love the control it gives me.”

Joey Walker’s Gear

Guitars
1965 Yamaha SG-3
Godin Richmond Dorchester
1965 Burns London
Modified T-style Thinline copy (for microtones)

Amp
Fender Hot Rod DeVille

Effects
ZVEX Fuzz Factory
Wampler Faux Analog Delay
JHS SuperBolt
Jim Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Signature Wah

Strings and Picks
D’Addario XL sets (.011–.046)
Dunlop Nylon Max Grip .60 mm

The guitarists also vary their amp choices, though those differences are subtle. “Cookie uses a Roland JC-120,” Walker says about co-guitarist Cook Craig. “He likes having that bright, really clean tone.” Stu Mackenzie and Walker both use Fender Hot Rod DeVilles. “Stu’s is different in that he has it on the overdrive setting,” Walker says. “I have it on the clean channel, but that’s because I have an overdrive pedal and Stu doesn’t.”

Carving out distinctive tones is one part of the puzzle; when and how to improvise is another. “Our first records were more garage rock, three-chord songs,” Walker says. “Then we started getting weirder. We’d set a framework for the jam, but often that would be at the expense of the audience. Sometimes we’d get it right and it would work, but other times it would be a bit flat. We realized that when we were writing and trying to explore a song, improvisation would be the most important element to it. But now we set the structure in stone when we play it live. There are a lot of people on stage and we don’t want to step on each other’s feet. But we’ve recently spoken about how we miss that improvisatory element. We might start incorporating that into our live show again, because it was so much fun.”

And if managing a large, improvising ensemble wasn’t enough, the band is also exploring microtones. “Stu bought a bağlama, which is a Turkish type of lute with movable microtonal frets,” Walker says. Zac Eccles, a Melbourne-based guitar builder and friend of the band, built Mackenzie’s yellow microtonal Banana guitar. “Stu had been mucking around with his Banana guitar for a while and had come up with these ideas. We were like, ‘Maybe we should build an album around it.’ Cookie, Lucas Skinner—our bass player—and I went out and bought some fairly low-quality guitars. Zac put some extra frets on and it ended up being really cool. It reinvigorated my interest in guitar to a certain extent, because it was another avenue to go down.”