Today (June 22), King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard have released the documentary film RATTY, which is about the making of the band’s latest album ‘Infest the Rats’ Nest’.
- READ MORE: “I didn’t want to frame them as godlike figures, because that’s bullshit”: director of King Gizzard’s new movie Chunky Shrapnel
The band announced the 27-minute film last Friday (June 19). Produced by PHC Films and shot and edited by John Angus Stewart, RATTY is now available to rent and stream for one week at the price of US$3 via Vimeo here.
RATTY comes after King Gizzard released their debut feature film, Chunky Shrapnel, in April. The film, also directed by Stewart, captured the band on tour across the UK and Europe in support of ‘Infest the Rats’ Nest’. King Gizzard also released an accompanying live album of the same name.
Ahead of the film’s release, Stewart told NME that he didn’t want Chunky Shrapnel to “feel like a puff piece” about the band. He said, “If you like this music, you’ll get an insight into who these people are. But I didn’t want to frame them as these godlike figures, because to me that’s kind of bullshit. They’re just normal dudes.”
NME caught up again with Stewart to talk about the response to Chunky Shrapnel, releasing RATTY and what King Gizzard have been up to in isolation.
How was the reaction to Chunky Shrapnel like, on your end?
To be honest, overwhelmingly positive. We sort of expected a quarter of that amount of people to watch it, really. It was crazy. I didn’t expect it. We were super happy with it, and super proud of it. People gave a shit.
How many people watched it?
Off the top of my head, I can’t remember, but I think it was close to 30,000. It was a lot of people, which was cool. If you compare that to a cinema, or whatever – most cinemas in Melbourne are like 250 people. Pretty wild.
Did people or friends give you any feedback on Chunky Shrapnel that stood out to you?
I think the main thing that other people kept saying was that they understood the approach of it, that it was not meant to be narrative and it was meant to be this whimsical journey. The single camera placing the audience onstage, I think that really resonated with people. Which is really exciting, because people actually getting a tone that you’re trying to put across visually, to me, that’s kind of what filmmaking is. And the whole thing was an experiment, but it seemed to have affect a bunch of people.
I’m actually so happy that we were able to put it out at that time, because it was so live music-based. I think that’s the thing my friends all said, they just said it gave them a feeling they weren’t gonna have for a really long time. Just seeing a lot of people being happy and dancey to music and shit. It’s just as simple as that, seeing a lot of people is really nice.
When we talked about Chunky Shrapnel, you were talking about the specific vision you had for its narrative. But it sounds like RATTY is a lot more off-the-cuff and loose. So was there any editing logic you were following at all, or were you just going with the flow?
When it came to editing it, the main thing I thought about was I wanted to do the opposite of Chunky. Because with Chunky I purposely didn’t really want it to be filled with lots of jokes and gag-y sort of stuff. I wanted it to be more dissonant, and a bit more at arm’s length with them. Whereas with RATTY I wanted to do the opposite and make it really fun and real loose, and not think about it too much and go pure gut. And make something that I thought was fun and that got me charged up. And that’s why I called it RATTY. Because I see it as ratty, I see it as a t-shirt with holes in it.
King Gizzard have released a few other album making-of films on YouTube. Did you see any of those?
I actually just watched them for the first time yesterday, the ones that Jase [Jason Galea] made. I know that he made them, I just never got around to it. I love that Jase has been doing that for ages. He would’ve done it this time if he’d filmed stuff. I guess it’s just whoever is around filming stuff would just put it together. It’d be cool if it happened again. ’Cause they’ve already finished their next record. There’s definitely not one for that, because that one was made separately during COVID.
So the band finished an album and recorded it during the pandemic?
Yup. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me saying that. [laughs] I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s fine. I won’t say much but this year is real exciting on that front.
Last time we talked, you briefly said you were working on two more music videos for them? Are those from the new album?
Yeah. I’ve already shot and pretty much edited them, as well. And then we’re gonna do a couple more, I think, pretty soon. I shot with The Murlocs two nights ago as well. So there’s a fair bit of stuff we’ve got in the can. We’re just trying to figure out when it’ll all come out, I guess.
The proceeds from RATTY are going to go to a few organisations. How were they chosen? Do you and the band have personal connections to those organisations or were there other reasons in play?
Max, my producer, and Stu [Mackenzie] made a list. We don’t know, really, how much money is doing to be raised. But we know – we hope – there’s going to be a certain amount and we want it to be split between [the organisations]. So we tried to cover the bases we thought were the most important, especially in our area, and what we had all seen when a bunch of us went to the march in Melbourne and heard people talk about those specific charities and organisations. It was definitely important for it to be local for us.
To be honest, it’s really hard to put out anything at the moment without it being connected. Because really, as artists – I shudder at the word ‘artist’, to be honest – as artists, we’re pretty handicapped, I feel like. All we can do is make pretty things, and what’s the point when all this shit’s happening? If you have the slight possibility to help in any way, it’s a rarity. I feel privileged that we’re even able to do that at the moment.