Tame Impala’s frontman tells us about the benefits of being yourself and not bottling stuff up
Kevin Parker is everywhere right now. Better known as the driving force behind Tame Impala, the Perth psychedelic rock outfit taking on the world, Parker is loved by industry, fans and music rags alike – Mark Ronson said he wouldn’t play in Australia unless Parker was available. If that's not enough, Tame Impala smashed out one of the best albums of 2015, Currents.
In a Dave Grohl-like move, Parker has once again written all of Tame Impala’s music and plays every instrument on the album, which kind of makes sense given that the band’s starting base was his bedroom. However, appreciating that you can’t do that live, Parker plays with Jay Watson (keys), Dominic Simper (guitar), Cam Avery (bass) and Julien Barbagallo (drums) when he's onstage. He's no control freak.
“The live environment’s completely different from recording – they’re two completely different ways of producing music,” he says. “I consider myself to have a unique style in the way I play drums and the guitar, but to expect those musical nuances to transfer to the other people who are playing... it’d be stifling to the others.”
Before Tame Impala released their Grammy-nominated, name-making 2012 album Lonerism, Parker expressed some anxiety about his capacity to headline a tour and interact with the crowd. Is he feeling a bit more relaxed about it now? “We definitely started headlining before I knew how to talk to an audience,” he says. “I didn’t consider myself as having the type of personality who could stand up in front of 6,000 people and get them revved up, and I’m still not that kind of person. But it was because I assumed that I had to be that I felt shy. As soon as I realised I just had to be myself and talk to the audience like I’d talk to anyone, I really found my persona on stage.”
Parker’s said that new music and songs come to him every day. Does his brain get a bit knackered or is it something that has to come out? “If I don’t do it, then I feel like I’m bottling something up inside,” he says. “It’s not comfortable. I’ll think of a melody – I probably thought of one going from the car to the hotel room just then, but unless I get a chance to record it, whether it’s just turning on the voice recorder on the iPhone or opening up my lap top, unless I do something... it’ll evaporate."