Having released their second album Lonerism in October last year, Perth’s Tame Impala find themselves a long way from home this summer on tour – having already made stops at festivals including Glastonbury and Primavera. With their music exposed to millions for the first time via Elephant appearing in a mobile phone ad and the departure of bassist Nick Allbrook following an Australian tour earlier this year, Q caught up with main man Kevin Parker (centre) to see how things have been going.
How the devil are you?
You recently played Glastonbury, what was the strangest thing you saw?
“A giant robotic walking chicken, I guess. It would have to be up there. I just love the way the longer you walk around the more you think you’re walking in chocolate.”
You’ve been touring your second album Lonerism for a while now, how has the response been?
“Yeah good. It’s been a different experience to playing it live then recording the album. It’s a completely different beast all together. It’s a lot more in the moment, everything is right there and the. You have to assume things will go wrong and things won’t be perfect, but if you accept it you can have fun with it.”
What’s your personal verdict on letting your single Elephant be used for an advert?
“I don’t think about it that hard to be honest. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what doing that advert achieved other than giving us money, which we kinda needed you know? Believe it or not, bands at our level are not super rich. We still struggle to get across to the other side of the world and that kind of stuff. It was just us trying the whole advert thing. It’s the first one we’ve done because we’re generally pretty protective. We get offers everyday for songs to be on some product or something. Usually we turn them down. We just felt we’d give it a shout with this one. It’s a bit weird seeing your song on some company’s ad, but it does fit, there’s some rhythmic rolling out to it. That’s why we said yes in the end, it was more than just bolting our song onto this meaningless ad.”
You’re currently touring, but do you get a chance to think about new material? You work quite heavily around the studio so is that even a possibility for you?
“I’m trying not to write to be honest. It’s so long until the next album’s due I feel if I start working on it now it will drive me crazy. I’d just be working on it every day like I did the last album. I think I want this album to be a bit more spontaneous. I want to do it quickly without thinking about it so there’s not as much time to second guess ourselves, so I’m going to wait a while.”
What are doing instead to scratch that creative itch?
“Well, we play new things onstage all the time but they’re not necessarily songs. They’re jams or little instrumental passages. That’s keeping me entertained at the moment. And I am writing new songs but I’m just keeping them in my head, just a chorus or a melody or something. I make sure I remember how it goes and let it fester in my brain until I record it physically, unlike the last album, when if I thought of something I’d record it straight away. There wasn’t time for it to be thought about.”
So you’re not going to stress over the details this time?
“In a way. I’d like to enjoy listening to the album at the end of it then just being a total headcase about it. By the time I finished the last album I could barely listen to it! I was listening to all the flaws. I’d like not to hear the flaws… A lot of that was the amount of time I spent on it and how intense I was about it. I just got way too picky.”
Because there was something you could hear in your head that you want to capture on record?
“Yeah, exactly. You might do it and be pleased with it, but then you wait a week, get bored with it so you change it again. They say, and it’s true, an album is never finished you just run out of time. You’re never satisfied with it so the more time you have the more you’re going to fuck with it. So I’d just like to stop myself from having too much time this time around.”
Will you record at home again?
“Yeah, I usually record at home, so I’ll probably do that again. I do like the idea of doing it somewhere else. I’m living somewhere different to the last one, so while I always do my recordings at home I do move around so much so that every batch of recordings is in a different place.”
Does where you are effect the recordings?
“It only needs to be somewhere where you’re comfortable and you have enough time, space and solitude, it doesn’t need some spiritual importance. You just don’t want to feel constrained. You don’t want to feel someone is listening all the time.”
How much is that inspired by coming from Perth? It’s a quiet, spacey place.
“Yeah, it’s quiet. It’s a slow pace of life. I like to think that no matter where you are you end up doing the same sort of thing. I’ve always been into music, though I guess if I was from somewhere else it would have come out differently. Does it the way it does because of the way people are in Perth? Definitely. I couldn’t imagine being in a band and growing up somewhere as big as London.”
Finally, you recently had a line-up change, with Pond’s Cam Avery replacing Nick Allbrook on bass. His debut show was your mainstage gig at the Primavera Festival, that’s some welcome to the band…
“Yeah exactly! He was fine, he’s a strong willed man, he can take it. Obviously he had to have a couple of beers before the gig to have the stomach to face it. He’s no stranger to the stage, he plays drums in Pond. We all thought it was funny how nervous he should have been.”
How did you come to recruit him?
“We’ve all played with him in bands before, random bands around Perth. You can be in different bands, with different instruments, but you can understand the person musically. He’s one of my best friends so we understand each other musically.”
And there were no big screaming matches when Nick Allbrook decided to leave?
“Exactly. He’s our really good friend.”
For more head to Tameimpala.com.