Which may be this pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow that I'm chasing. It was still fun, though. So I've been coaching myself to embrace the idea of people thinking something that I do is trash. For years, it was assumed that Tame Impala was a collective noun. So if I were the Strokes I might go, “Hey.” But the reason it sounded like me is because it’s the art form, making a knockoff of the song and making it sound as much like the song you’re trying to knock off as you can without it being a copyright infringement. There was no working on any music at low volume. Guesting On … No, I'd love to say there was an enlightening, 10-day silent meditation trip, but it really wasn't. That's not to say it wasn't fun and fulfilling. And I met him really briefly at a festival in, I think it was Belgium, just recently, which was a trip because I’d always wanted to meet Mike Skinner. He should have been, and he wanted to be. "I thought it was totally slamming hip hop, boom-crack drums," he says. "There's no song that sounds exactly like I imagined it, because when you imagine it, it doesn't really exist. PARKER: Yeah, we did a studio session together. Here's the devastating plot twist: I said everything I've just told you when I finished [last album] Currents. I can imagine the squad of writers and producers all working together was a culture shock for someone who famously records his own music in isolation. Converting something that I do by myself into something that five people stand on stage and perform in front of people is fun. Just super big energy, you know? It’s funny because that’s the song he ended up sampling for “Sundress,” which was like six or seven years later. But we’re also both into the way that old music could be used in a modern sense. I mean, it's funny cos that that one, the putting the chords on loop and going to sleep, I didn't think of that as an experiment. “So we were like, if we’ve gotta go to a hospital, let’s go to a hospital in Perth.”. I didn't go out to dinner. “I just go to the studio every day and do my thing.”. He has a new approach to life, as well, which embraces success rather than fleeing it. STEREOGUM: Nowadays you work with so many famous people, but you mentioned being a shy kid when you were starting out. Could those unbidden melodies be his mind's way of filling up the space where voices suddenly weren't? I know producers release their stems and say, “OK, remix my shit,” but when you talk about “stems printing” — I didn’t realize that’s something that could be high or low quality. It's always the most exciting when there's risks being taken. He has this energy, or perhaps, a lack of energy, that bequiets a room. I can’t work on music at low volumes — it’s like, why am I doing this? STEREOGUM: Working with Ronson is also what led to the Lady Gaga record you worked on. It turns out that this is how Parker has made every Tame Impala record, since 2008's first eponymous EP and up to his next album, The Slow Rush, which is due on 14 February. And then fuckin’ two months later he was at my house in LA, shooting a video! It's a little bit daunting because I never consider my music as something that needs to be performed live for it to fulfil its potential. Which can go catastrophically wrong. Now, a pop psychologist might see these unbidden melodies as a form of mental self-protection. It's this, I guess, self-confidence thing that plagued me. Their ocean-crossing summer tour has seen them play venues from beach-side festivals to muddy British fields; a clear indication of their undisputed status as a formidable live act. There's so much more I want to do. For me, the music I imagine making is for people listening to by themselves. I would love to just be lying on the couch the entire time my album is being made and have someone else carry out my wishes. It's usually the stuff that I do in between working on the music that I'm passionate about, like, just fucking around the studio is kind of what I do. "I've never been able to separate making music with other as a social time from it being a creative time," he says. Like, “Oh fuck yeah” — because an American rapper was using my song. You know what, I'm running out of people that I haven't worked with that I would like to, just because of how it's worked out. Nothing was half-baked. A year or so before this rekindling, Parker's father had discovered he was smoking weed with his friends and banned him from ever seeing them again. Distorted guitars and hip-hop sometimes go well, like Kanye and Mike Dean, and they can also be a disaster. Like making brush strokes on a canvas and feeling satisfied with them. A new tour is pending. In the time since that album dropped, with a boost from creative and commercial level-ups like 2012’s Lonerism and 2015’s Currents, Parker has gone from an obscure retro psych enthusiast to one of the gods of the modern festival-scene. That hook you sing, “I was gonna call you back” — was that something he had already that you built off of, or what? You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site. Hence why, though I'm fairly confident that he's not actually the Messiah, it's hard to be sure. Which takes a lot of work, and you have to have high attention to detail. That sounds depressing but it's not". He is a sought-after collaborator who literally cannot write music with anyone else in the room. I think I looked away as fast as I could because of how cringey it was. Not always taste-wise as in being into the exact same artists, but we just think the same things are sick. Exactly. They're not asking for it, but you are able to give it. We’ve Got A File On You features interviews in which artists share the stories behind the extracurricular activities that dot their careers: acting gigs, guest appearances, random internet ephemera, etc. When you see Tame Impala live – and I cannot stress this enough, when he hits the road later this year, you must see Tame Impala live – he will be flanked by other men, on drums and synths and guitars. It's taken a lot to drag me out of that. So 'Posthumous Forgiveness' is one-sided in that way. Uh, yes? It’s kind of like ever since then, now I see that as like the ultimate studio environment. Do you feel trepidation when you share something you've worked on alone with other people? He also informed their parents. "From the moment I think of a song, it's a series of let downs. How long does it take before you're comfortable enough to just snap into it? It's one of the parts of everything that I do that is just unabashed fun. I'm not gonna say anyone because I don't want to jinx it, you know? Then again, nothing about Kevin Parker, or his alter ego Tame Impala, is exactly certain. I listened back to it and it just spoke to me for some reason. I really, really hope that we are given an opportunity to finish it and release it. It's an eight-minute psych-rock wig-out, driven by a military drum beat that frequently judders apart like a scratched CD. Not just better for me, this will make it better for everyone. I feel like my perspective of being in the studio changed after that. Because there’s zero second guessing. I just set up a 707 drum machine and I just hit record because I was testing out this new tape machine that I had. Everyone was telling us, “Don’t bother going after them because in China copyright law is heaps more loose. So it is somewhat ironic when a member of security demands Parker’s … STEREOGUM: You have a writing credit on this song, but as with so many Kanye tracks, there are so many people credited that it’s hard to know who did what. Last December, Parker released 'Posthumous Forgiveness' as an album single proper, but before that there'd been a nearly seven-month gap when fans had heard nothing new. It had been four years since the last album and no one announces a festival slot, and a world tour, without something new to promote. We would literally be hanging out in our backyard listening to old music constantly. What's your role when you're in a room with, say, Mark Ronson? Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker Talks Todd Rundgren, Expecting the Unexpected, and Why Being a Tame Impala Fan Takes Dedication I feel like there's a kind of a magical, mystical way of me making music that will just be, you know, easy. ‘Cause his first lyric is like, “You’re calling my phone thinking I’m doing nothing better, I’m just waiting for it to stop ringing so I can use it again,” which I thought was hysterical. You've talked before about experimenting in the studio, things like putting chords on as you go to sleep and then waking up with a melody in your head. And also trying to find some way to harness that and use it as an energy. And that was that. But like I said, me playing my music to other people is a time of the sun coming back down to earth. There was no band. PARKER: What’s funny is I didn’t know who anyone was. The Slow Rush is released worldwide in 14 February. PARKER: It was great. PARKER: It’s kind of just the amount of care you put into it, really. Like they found a picture of Kevin Parker and it was that guy. He still does. Not at all. Which is different to music that is good". You’ve just got to have some restraint because hip-hop is about making space in the mix, having things behind you but also keeping space. So when I was recording this album, I intentionally did that. My feelings in that song are not how I feel every day. Have you done work besides, you know, massive international success? They were like, “We wanted a copy of it, so we just did this, and we’re really sorry.” And they paid me whatever I would have normally got paid. But even at larger scales, you can sense his aura. Music had already saved him once, in the wake of his parents' divorce, first when he discovered drums at the music school they sent him too and then when he started dabbling with the guitars that littered his father's house. I think Gaga too, that’s probably not something that makes her feel artistically fulfilled. What was your contribution? But this wasn’t that. And then I walk offstage feeling like a pop star in the best possible way. Kevin Parker probably isn't Jesus. It’s this dance between making a rhythm — it’s hard to explain. STEREOGUM: One of your other biggest crossovers into the pop realm was when Rihanna covered your song. I really wanted to have [the album] finished for that touring season but it was wrong of me to choose timing over quality. At least to my knowledge. And he is a self-confessed anxious, self-critical loner who's rarely happier than when he's stood on stage in front of thousands of people. PARKER: No, they voluntarily compensated me. Which at the end of the day is the same whether you’re playing drums or programming them. I mean, it's no more uncomfortable than just meeting new people. PARKER: He had most of the lyrics done, and he was like, “Can you sing something over it?” So I just sang the first thing — and it was funny because it’s such a cheeky thing for a song. Does it just differ from song to song? That’s why I like hip-hop so much, and that’s why I find hip-hop so intriguing, the way it’s made. That’s the difference it comes down to. Tame Impala have risen to become one of the hottest alt-rock bands of the moment. PARKER: He actually made contact a lot sooner. Everything. "And so those songs came out and then I just realised that I wanted them to sound different." Not like a beat like a rhythm, but like where to hit and where not to hit. I kind of jam with myself all the time in the studio. And then, around the time that Currents was going platinum and being nominated for Grammys and winning ARIAs (the Australian equivalent), Parker slowly began to disabuse people of an assumption that he'd spent years cultivating. I just thought it was hilarious. STEREOGUM: When you’re programming drums for a rap record, do you approach it differently than if you’re working on a Tame Impala record? But I think Travis just wanted him to play. But in terms of people who were big on Fallon — I didn’t know who Jimmy Fallon was. I was like, 'You're fucking worthless, you're pathetic', but I guess the fact that it is me doing it all, there are more ways that it can grind to a halt. I just suggest something on a whim and it happens. This was notable for a number of reasons, one of which was the novelty of someone playing a guitar at a music festival in 2019, but also because, surely, it meant new music. I’m just rubbish. But Parker's falsetto and his shimmering synths are gossamer things that seem like they might blow away if you focus on them too hard. I've never snapped into it. It was a demo that I'd recorded in about six hours almost a year before. So it’s not worth going after.” But no, it was a happy ending. 'Let's sit down and let's write those chords that you have to write to finish this song.' That’s kind of just how I want to approach it, just not being self-aware. Ultimately, they opted to quarantine Down Under. "It was around the time I was so inside my own head and just completely lacking in perspective," he says. It has to be good, which is what makes it difficult. Some of this sheen could be attributed to the We only listened to it at like max volume. So 10 songwriters in a room spitballing ideas, I don’t think that’s something she would be into. “Honestly for me, it’s kind of business as usual because my studio is like two blocks from my house,” he says. So I did the best damn fuckin’ stems printing I’ve ever done. PARKER: Yeah, something like that. STEREOGUM: Like you were willing to try more things? Now Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker has weighed in, and he’s a fan. This was notable for … Same emotion. "Months later I listened back to it and I was like, ah, kind of sounds like Seventies rock. I hate doing stems because you have to send the song out in pieces, basically. Obviously on the scale of things to feel guilty about it’s obviously not something that I should, but it is. PARKER: We bonded on everything from like ways to mic a drum kit to weird ’60s songs. It didn't occur to me that he actually made decisions that were because he was weak. Nothing. But 'Glimmer' was just something I was messing around with in the studio one day. I guess it was something that I got from growing up, too, realising that adults aren't necessarily any better than children. STEREOGUM: Years ago you guys did some work with SZA, but it never emerged. Yeah, he just got in touch and asked me to do something. So I think it was only ever going to be really homegrown with Mark producing it. But it won't stop me trying. When I reach Parker over Skype in early May — him starting off his Friday morning, me wrapping up my Thursday night — it is not yet fully clear what a prescient move he made by getting the hell out of California. Like I honestly thought it was hilarious. Did you see that clip? @sonyatvaustralia #Lawsuit #nowitsmyturn, A post shared by Tame Impala (@tameimpala) on Apr 27, 2017 at 8:01pm PDT. I’ve caught that bug. It's important that they disagree with it. I think that could be really good. I spend by far the most amount of time on drums and rhythms of my songs than any other part. The idea of me writing pop songs that I didn't sing was extremely alluring to me. We were just starting out, young guys from Perth, all fairly socially inept, so everything was pretty intimidating — which I wish it hadn’t been. It’s classic Mike Skinner ’cause it’s kind of funny, it’s kind of true and poignant at the same time. Which is different in how you go about it, but mentally it’s exactly the same. PARKER: I realized I wanted to have that kind of attitude in the studio, like, “Fuck yeah, we’re doing this!” And not, like, doubting everything constantly, going like, “Let’s not try this,” or, “Let’s not go ’til five in the morning.” Like fuck it! Are those "letdowns" what led to the gap? “Because if we were going to go back to Perth we were going to have to fly — two flights, three airports, which were all potentially coronavirus areas.” Faced with the prospect of borders potentially closing, the couple figured they had to move quickly or not move at all. He played me the song he’d been working on, “Sundress,” which had the sample, and we messed around a bit in the studio. And, duly, two singles arrived: blissed-out funker 'Patience', and 'Borderline', which sounded like ELO covering Pharrell. It's not like it was explained to you. Is it important to have that sense of chance when you're writing songs? New music is here. I mean, that's kind of one of the whole things of it, being at peace with the idea of people hating it. Tame Impala have covered Edwyn Collins’ 1994 single “A Girl Like You” for Australia’s Triple J Radio in Perth. Well, 'Is It True', weirdly enough. Can you unpack that a little bit for me? That’s just what this was. ‘Cause I’m not. Hopefully one day, but I’ve been saying that now for years. Apple Music's Zane Lowe speaks with Tame Impala frontman, Kevin Parker, about their new album, The Slow Rush. That's important to me. And extremely intelligent, which admittedly I didn’t expect. Which is something very close to my heart because I’m rubbish at getting back. You have to shake the snow globe up. Around the time that he died, I was still pretty young – he died around 10 years ago. But it also led to a strange relationship with creativity. I didn’t know what it was, ’cause I knew he had stopped making Streets albums in like 2009 or something? I didn't actually intend for that to be on the album. The only thing stopping you is you choosing not to have that. I like to think that if I could make Tame Impala music with other people I would. It's really important to me to feel like I'm on the verge of it all turning to shit. PARKER: I just did the drums. In December 2018, Tame Impala was announced for the Saturday headline slot at Coachella, which had just been vacated by Justin Timberlake. I met him around the time he released his song “Fuckin’ Problems.” I had heard he used “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” in his tour video, which I was pretty impressed by. I'd wake up at nine in the morning and go until midnight and then go to sleep. For Parker, getting high is a way to escape the twanging of his brain, which can get in the way of his creativity. Oh, and he does write songs like 'Posthumous Forgiveness', the centrepiece of his upcoming fourth album, The Slow Rush, in which he laments the failings of an absent father before offering him exoneration (although unlike the Biblical Son, Parker's comes backed with pillowy synths). Is it tough to collaborate when you've got that urge towards solitariness? We just have really similar perspectives on music and taste. But the biggest thing was as soon as I realised that I was doing people's enjoyment of the music a disservice by being kind of shy and just being severely understated. You could probably mark quite clearly where I started learning drums because I stopped playing with Lego. It’s this fuckin’ guilt that I carry around with me. It’s one of those things that… I literally can’t deal, or whatever it is. It’s just choosing where to put beats and where not to put them. I don’t know. So I love it when someone’s reinterpreted them as kind of barebones. He bounced between them for a decade, at which point they briefly reunited only for things to fall apart again. I thought that was cool. Tame Impala im Interview: Ein notorischer Einzelgänger reift zum Popstar Simon Ackers 14.02.2020 "Bringen Sie die verdammten Impfstoffe JETZT" "Unter uns"-Star Benjamin Heinrich: 2. Like it came from a part of me that wasn't calculated, where I don't know where that came from. It's how he writes all his music: first, inspiration; then what can seem like an endless process of reshaping until the corporeal thing is close enough to the imaginary thing. I gave a shit. How different was the creative process from your own? "In a way, from the moment I think of a song, it's just a series of letdowns.". Slow Fitness Is The Best Way To Train In 2020, Louis Vuitton's Master Watchmaker, Michel Navas, Netflix's 'The Eddy' Is A Slow-Burn Gritty Drama. I played some kind of synth on it, I think. PARKER: No, no. When I'm kind of uncomfortable, that's when I think of melodies. I was writing lyrics up until the hour that I finished it. The Tame Impala stuff I’m playing the drums, and with hip-hop I’m programming them.  In the recording studio, Parker writes, records, performs, and produces all of the project's music. It was more just like, 'I'm just gonna do this because it seems like a good idea'. I honestly believe that. It was so much fun. So it just reminded me of all the people that I never got back to [Laughs]. He is a perfectionist, verging on control freak, who thinks his best music is born in moments of unbidden inspiration. It hasn't changed my songwriting, but I guess everything else it has. STEREOGUM: They so clearly had just re-created “The Less I Know The Better.” Had they approached you, and you turned them down? I guess it's like artistic fulfilment. From about midnight to eight am was when I completed the rest of the song which was writing, recording and mixing. Because we get together and I can sometimes just be in a giggly mood because I'm hanging out with Mark. But I knew the rewards would be great. STEREOGUM: Before this Saturday Night Live performance you worked on Travis Scott’s Astroworld album. I guess that’s how Kanye works, he just takes bits and puts them where he wants. And I used to be the biggest Streets fan. Although if he was, it would explain all the Kevin Parker-as-Christ art his fans make, and why they self-identify as 'Disciples', and why they caption selfies taken with him as their "lord and saviour". Do you actually feel this way, or is this just the post-album emotional hangover? Exactly. He posted a few years ago about Currents being his favorite album of the past few years. But I didn’t meet him until like a year later, whenever “Fuckin’ Problems” came out. In our interview, we hopped and skipped across his career, discussing various superstar collaborations and bizarre twists in the Tame Impala story. Oh, no, there's always that concern. That’s all that matters. I just put a lot of care into it. It was. It can be extremely lame. If you play that, there’s a soundalike of “Someday” in there. I mean COME ON guys at least put some effort in. Which is what makes it difficult". He’s just really into what he does and is so dedicated. He is a festival-headlining pop artist who makes dense psychedelic rock music. And you know what? And then when I would be on my own, that's when I could finally start being creative.". For anyone that's a fan of me, to hear that they would probably think that's ludicrous, you know? We love drum sounds. “The health system in Australia is really good,” Parker reasons. Yeah. But the thing is I'll do whatever it takes to get to a spot where I feel like the music I'm making is inspired. But it has to be on my terms. It’s been attempted many times before, so it’s kind of a challenge: “We gotta try and do this, and do it well.”. So there was no back-and-forth. Yeah. Tame Impala’s sound has evolved over the years, as have his admirers. I think someone used that guy’s photo as a picture of me for something like a year later. The scaling up of your live shows has happened in conjunction with you taking ownership of Tame Impala more, accepting your rock star-ness, at least more than you used to. The psych project mastermind made the comments to Australian radio station triple j … But it didn’t show. It's just me telling myself that this is how my journey as a music creator will be better and make sense. Fans got edgy. We did a bunch of stuff, but as with all things, I’m not sure if any of that will surface. Her label got in contact and asked if they could have the stems because Rihanna wanted to do something with it — which, I was amazed. Being the best thing he's ever made, it's a lovely Valentine's Day gift to the world. Alongside his own band’s accomplishments, he’s become an in-demand producer frequently tasked with lending his unique sensibility to songs by A-list pop and rap stars. [pause] Yes. Just appreciating myself as an artist, which is something I didn't do. A band, in the time-honoured meaning. ‘Cause we played a medley of my song and another song, and the other song was one that John Mayer played on. "There's no one in the world that I've felt as creative with as I do when I'm alone". “The music sounds like a band, which I … Did somebody send you a completed track and say “What did you think?”. Occasionally he’ll be bummed out by a calendar reminder on his laptop alerting him to which city Tame Impala should have been playing that night, but overall he’s been in good health and good spirits. On the album, 'Borderline' has taken a new form, one closer to the version that had first materialised in Parker's mind. Did I really feel those things? Has success brought more confidence or do you worry about how things are going to be received? I always assume that people will enjoy it more if I kind of just don't do anything else to go along with the music. And then I finished the whole album the next morning. I know it’s ruining my hearing, I’m damaging my hearing because I work at high volume, but it’s worth it because it carries you to the finish line of finishing music, loving the music more. Exactly. He wanted to have new songs to play, but they weren't ready. I mean, I don't tell them to fuck off. It’s everything. PARKER: I think he got him to play on a couple of his songs, and Travis just wanted him to be there. I hate finding myself in that situation, it makes me uncomfortable. When he joined bands later, using music as a way to make new friends, he struggled to draw the lines between fun and work. Yeah. 86.0k members in the TameImpala community. Yeah. STEREOGUM: Where did the concept for that song come from? And so the difference between the best person in the world and a total novice is just where you decide to put those kick drums and those snares. But this might be the last album that I do like that. Tame Impala's Kevin Parker on His Pop Ambitions: 'I Want to Be a Max Martin' Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker used to prefer solitude. He can lean out from the edge of a stage and make tens of thousands of people feel like he's singing just to them. STEREOGUM: What are some things you saw eye-to-eye on or connected on? They have exactly the same software. STEREOGUM: With “Sundress,” was that strictly a sample, or did you have some creative input on that track? Because with programming things, it has nothing to do with how good you are at playing the drums. That sounds really depressing but it's not. It makes me dream, you know? Thus far hospitalization has not been necessary. Hence, the mellow vibe. He’s been doing his thing for a good solid decade now; Tame Impala’s debut album InnerSpeaker reached its 10th anniversary a couple weeks after our call. He speaks to Esquire about forgiveness and perfectionism. 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