Kevin Parker is relaxing in his suburban Perth home in-between North American tours, getting ready for a quick Australian run of shows. Kevin Parker released his first album (Innerspeaker) in May this year to near universal acclaim. Even the waning tastemakers at Pitchfork agreed the LP was a wonderful dose of chugging psych-pop bliss. Kevin Parker used to be an unmotivated law clerk wage slave, walking around Perth delivering court documents, singing and writing songs in his head, and resigning before he was fired. He could see the writing on the wall. Kevin Parker is TAME IMPALA.
Or more to the point, Tame Impala is Parker’s studio project that has grown into an international touring act. As he explains: “It feels more and more like there are two halves of the Tame Impala thing. There’s the recording project which is just me and it will always be like that. And then there’s the band side. When we’re on tour it feels like a band – a group effort and group atmosphere. But when we’re not on tour – it couldn’t be anything further from a band. It’s just me in the studio and I’ll occasionally get other guys to pitch in.”
Yet despite the fact that more tours and more record sales means the Tame Impala brand grows ever more so, Parker is dogmatic about its future. “It’ll always be the one man studio project. It’ll never be a band, where we get together and jam. We all have other bands where we can do that. It doesn’t need to be a band. So it’s kinda safe as always being a recording project. I’m most inspired and creative when I’m alone.”
It’s a refreshingly honest, almost dictatorial stance by the 24-year-old. “There are moments when I feel the project is getting taken over by the band,” Parker admits. “In those dark moments I just wanna start another project where no-one else can taint it with their ideas. Eventually I don’t do anything.”
At the moment, though, Parker is very much doing something – completing the much anticipated follow up. At a push, he’s willing to concede progress. “It’s extremely different. A bit more excessive. There are large portions that don’t even sound like the same band. I have never been this excited about a batch of recording before.”
As if it’s not abundantly clear, Parker is a notorious studio rat. But only recently has he allowed himself to stretch out a bit in the recording process. “In the past I have been afraid to use certain instruments because it might be ‘too’ something. Too rock ‘n’ roll. Too cheesy. I’ve stopped holding myself back from guilty pleasures. On the last album there were a lot of rules and boundaries I placed on myself.”
And the consequence of this new-found freedom? “More candy pop.”
Fascinating stuff. You can check out Tame Impala when they play at the ANU on Saturday October 9 with Cabins and Felicity Groom. Tix are $40.90 + bf from Ticketek. Innerspeaker is out now through Modular.