The soundtrack to Dr Karl's career.
Once, while on a flight from Sydney to Perth, Dr Karl partook in an alcoholic beverage (or maybe more) from the drinks trolley.
I’ve always been a fan of a screaming Fender Stratocaster...Dr Karl — Don't Look Back
Unlike many of us who might fall asleep or become slightly unhinged, he found that he started to work and write really well.
He recognised the inherent problem, though. He could become too dependent on having a drink to be able to work productively.
So, instead of going down that path, he tried music.
"I’d get some short pieces of music and play them on a continuous loop and [I found] it elevates my brain to a higher state and it takes me away from the rest of the world," he says.
"Suddenly I’m not hearing the music and I’m writing like a demon!"
At 15, Karl was working at his mum’s record shop and heard a Bach violin concerto, something he had heard many times before, but on that particular afternoon it struck powerfully.
When he turned 21, he discovered the music of Woodstock and Jimi Hendrix, realising there was a whole world of contemporary music on offer.
Perhaps the fact that Karl was once a roadie for Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley gives away his passion for the sound of guitars.
"I’ve always been a fan of a screaming Fender Stratocaster," he reveals. "There was a song I came across called 'Directly from My Heart to You' by Frank Zappa. I love that screaming, not electric Fender Stratocaster, but a screaming electric violin!
"I loved it so much at the beginning that I actually had it as my wake up music."
Every week, people call into Dr Karl's radio segments in search of answers to their questions about just about anything.
So, here's one. Why does he have such a strong, almost primal response to such a specific sound in a song?
"I don’t know why," he admits. "I just love it!"
Aside from Zappa's musical innovations and lyrical surrealism, Dr Karl is a fan of his keen intellectual and sceptical mind.
He loves classic Zappa quotes like, "politics is just the entertainment division of the military industrial complex" and "there’s more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer half life." It’s a viewpoint Karl shares and has humorously attempted to tackle through his many books and work.
As a massively popular science communicator, Dr Karl's work is broad ranging, quirky and mind boggling. He’s adamant about the importance of getting outside of your mind in order to fully expose yourself to new learning and creative possibilities. That might mean spending a few weeks in a tree, or listening to music on a continuous loop. They're both favourable methods which he’s employed.
"There’s a problem in our society where we keep talking about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and we’ve left out the ‘A’ for the Arts," Dr Karl says. "You’re not a balanced person unless you’ve got that other side of you. So I like to think about STEAM rather than STEM."
Hear more about the song that changed it all for Dr Karl on Don't Look Back.