Tame Impala is the brainchild of Perth born musician, Kevin Parker. He began producing music from his bedroom at the age of thirteen, and has since developed his sound into an enthralling cocktail of late 60s psychedelia, powerful guitar riffs, and modern synth-rock.
After debut album InnerSpeaker shot to critical success in 2010, Tame Impala released their follow-up, Lonerism last week, scoring a Top 20 hit.
Gigwise spoke to Parker about his inspiration for the new record, the absurdity of music critics, and his relief at avoiding having 's**t thrown at him' by Foo Fighters fans...
Lonerism seems to be an album that is a little less guitar led than InnerSpeaker. Was this an intentional change of direction towards a more psychedelic sound?
It wasn't so much intentional, it just kind of happens, you know? I just bought a whole bunch of synthesisers and stuff. I was really into the idea of making new sounds that were not necessarily the same as what I was making before, and doing a lot of stuff that wasn't just based on guitar. I feel like I temporarily exhausted guitar-based music.
It doesn't really affect me, what people are saying about the music. I generally don't really expect people to totally get the right idea about it. That's the thing with other people listening to music and giving their opinion on it - no one really knows what the artist is doing. It was more just a case of realising that there are different ways of making cool, crazy, psychedelic music. It doesn't have to be a guitar riff, a synthesiser can be just as effective as a guitar.
One of the main lyrical themes of the album seems to be one of detachment from those around you. Is this something that came from personal experience?
Yeah, in a way, definitely. There were a couple of songs on the first album that were about being alone. But the first album was more about physically being alone and how great it is. With this one, it's really about other people and the outside world, and how we interact with it. It's almost never about physically being alone, so these songs are all really about trying to interact with other people and establish a connection.
Is the concept of ‘Lonerism’ something that was spawned from the pressures that have come since you have gained a greater level of fame?
Fame has kind of reminded me of what I was like when I was a kid, of times when I really used to immerse myself in commercial joys - you know, being at school or going to parties when I was at school... or even being on tour and going to a party on tour. For a long period of time I kind of forgot about the whole thing. I had my friends and I didn't really need anyone else, but then when we started touring a lot, as other people came into the picture it really reminded me of what I was like when I was a kid. I definitely see a paradox there.
Your lead single from the new album 'Elephant' is a driving piece of rock ‘n’ roll that still manages to retain a catchy ‘pop hook’. Was this a song that you always had in mind as a first single?
I like all the songs on the album, but I suppose it was the one that seemed like the most instantly gratifying. It doesn't take a long time for it to grow on you.
Also 'Elephant' is one of the oldest songs that's on either of the two albums. I'd had that song for a long time and people were encouraging me to put it on the album. I hadn't really thought about 'til then, but I think it's a good way of changing up all the dream-like synth stuff that is on the album.
Is it true that you played every instrument yourself on your debut Tame Impala EP? And if so, what was the reason for this?
Yeah, I mean that's kind of really what Tame Impala is, I'm really the only one doing it. The other guys have their own bands, they've got their own music they're playing a lot. Tame Impala is just kind of a one man thing really.
Tame Impala have been showered with critical acclaim, but has it been all good?
It's all one big blob of other people's opinions - even if a review is positive it doesn't necessarily mean I feel good about it. I read a few reviews when [the album] first came out and I felt like they more or less got the point but they missed some things out. Then after that I just didn't read anymore.
It's all just people intellectualising music, which to me is kind of people missing the point in the first place. The idea of people intellectually critiquing music? I get far more out of comments that are just people writing on Facebook to say that they love the album. I find that much more meaningful than someone just giving it a score out of ten.
A lot is made of the late 60s influences, and particularly the Beatles, that can be heard in your work. Do you feel too much is made of this?
In terms of the way I write and my song structures, I'm never really thinking about anyone or anything. Subconsciously perhaps, I love bands like Supertramp and electronic artists like Caribou. I love the way Caribou songs are electronically put together. I'm kind of trying to do the same thing in a way; I'll record a little patch of music and then loop it, and just see what happens. A lot of it is about experimentation.
You're about to play your biggest UK headline shows to date in a couple of weeks, so how does it feel to now have the ability to pack out venues such as Brixton Academy and Manchester Ritz?
Yeah, we try not to really think about it, I guess that's the best way to stay sane. But it's pretty amazing that each time we go to the studio and then come back there are more people there to see us. It's amazing but surreal. At the same time we know that one day we'll come to a city and there'll be less people than last time, so we have to appreciate it while it's our time.
Instead of the b-sides on your single releases being tracks that didn't make the album, they're often remixes instead. Some of your tracks have even been reworked by the likes of Erol Alkan and Todd Rundgren. Do you enjoy hearing the different interpretations of your music that these DJs come up with?
For me it's really just a record label thing nowadays. Some of the remixes that people have done have been f**king amazing, I even like them more than the original songs, and then there are some that I see as pointless. Really, they're just a promotional tool of the record label.
The Erol Alkan one (a reworking of 2011 single 'Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?') was amazing, it made it into a dance track. They're all pretty cool in their own right but if it was up to me, I wouldn't really go out looking for people to remix my songs.
How was your supporting slot with Foo Fighters last summer?
That show was crazy, there were just so many people. It didn't really feel like a gig, it was more just a mass of people out there in front of us. I mean they were there for the Foo Fighters but at least they were kind enough not to throw s**t at us! We were the first of four support bands so it was more like a festival that's being headlined by Foo Fighters.
You say you are constantly writing, so have you got any ideas of what we might be able to expect from the next record yet?
I'm thinking about it very generally at the moment, it will probably be some time before anything surfaces. I've written a few songs and I have some crazy ideas of what it's going to sound like, either it's going to sound great or it'll sound terrible!
Tame Impala begin a series of four UK dates at the end of the month. For more information visit Gigwise Gig tickets.
October 30th- O2 Brixton Academy, London
November 1st- HMV Ritz, Manchester
November 2nd- The Leadmill, Sheffield
November 3rd- O2 ABC, Glasgow