Wild at heart – Interview with Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker

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There’s nothing tame about Tame Impala, really. The Perth-bred psychedelic-rock four-piece deliver a wall of sound that’s trippy enough to make Nan’s dusty copy of Cream’s ‘Disraeli Gears’ sound like sheer pop. By the end of next month, they’d have blown away audiences at the Sydney Opera House with said sonics as they’ll be taking part in the light-and-sound spectacular that is Vivid LIVE.

It’s been an epic 12 months for the band, seeing them win both the ARIA and Triple J Awards for Album of the Year for their brilliant debut ‘Innerspeaker’, which continues to rotate on our office CD player (too good an LP to listen to in MP3 dribs and drabs, so we’re sticking with the hard copy).

“Oddly enough,” lead singer Kevin Parker tells Cream online, “I’m actually a pop fiend. My process of being in bands is one of realising just how much I love pop.”

Sprawled out on the couches of his record label Modular’s Sydney office, Parker is in a mellow mood. His more diffident bass-playing sidekick Dominic Simper sits opposite, listening intently as Parker reflects on the band’s debut LP.

“I’d pay any amount of money to take some sort of drug and listen to that album for the first time,” he says. “That would be such an experience, but I can’t do that.”

The West Australian outfit were signed to Modular three years ago on the strength of just one single, released on indie label Hole In The Sky, and immediately achieved success when their debut EP topped the Australian Independent Record Labels Chart, receiving high rotation on Triple J.

Drawing their name from an African antelope – “An impala is wild, that’s what you have to remember,” Parker interjects; “it’s like a brief, spontaneous connection with something foreign, that’s the idea” – Tame Impala’s sound retains a raw, organic nexus, despite the group now inhabiting the ‘hipster’ domain of Modular.

“If anything, it’s surprisingly easy in terms of freedom of creativity,” insists Parker. “Heck, they let us record by ourselves.”

Now the boys face the challenge of delivering the album’s epic singles and some new material to boot, to a mixed audience of high art aesthetes and die-hard rock’n’rollers when these markets come together at the Vivid LIVE festival in Sydney. For Parker, at least, it’s going to be real easy, let alone make for trippy fun.

“Pop is like emotional candy to the ears,” he says. “It has a structure, it gets stuck in your head, and it makes you feel good. Pop’s like a drug.”

Add to it the other Impala members’ rolling drums and intense guitar riffs, plus plenty of dazzling visuals and lights, and we’re set for one cacophonous but colourful show. 

For more information of who’s playing at Vivid visit www.sydneyoperahouse.com/vividlive. 

‘Innerspeaker’ is out through Modular / Universal Music.