Gracie Taylor is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Kevin Parker: 'Tame Impala is not a band'

Kevin Parker from Australian psych-rock band Tame Impala is headlining Laneway 2017. Photo / Supplied
Kevin Parker from Australian psych-rock band Tame Impala is headlining Laneway 2017. Photo / Supplied

Kevin Parker is enjoying a rare moment at home in Perth when we catch up with him.

This is where his story - and the story of the hip psychedelic pop outfit Tame Impala - began in 2007.

But before we hear that story - let's clear something up. Tame Impala is a band.

Kevin Parker says he will be resting Tame Impala after Laneway and going on an 'indefinite hiatus'. Photo / Supplied
Kevin Parker says he will be resting Tame Impala after Laneway and going on an 'indefinite hiatus'. Photo / Supplied

Well, some of the time Tame Impala is a band. The rest of the time Tame Impala is a solo project for Parker. Got it? Maybe it's better if Parker explains.

"It's largely a misconception that Tame Impala is a band," he says. "We play as a band on stage but it's really not how it is at all on the album. The album is just me.

"Tame Impala has two lives. One is the album, which is like a producer, and the other life is like a band. More of a live incarnation where we're basically a covers band for the albums that I produce."

Kevin Parker is headlining Laneway 2017. Photo / Supplied
Kevin Parker is headlining Laneway 2017. Photo / Supplied

It's proven to be a winning formula. After posting their demos on MySpace back in the day a ferocious bidding war broke out to sign the band/project/whatever.

They've since released three enormously well received albums of gorgeously spacey, 60s inspired guitar pop music, Innerspeaker, Lonerism and Currents.

Parker and that cover band will touch down in Auckland next year to headline the Laneway Festival, bringing his psychedelic rock to New Zealand for possibly the last time. Parker has announced he will be resting Tame Impala following the tour and going on "indefinite hiatus".

The band is unique in that they occupy the fine line between being popular in the indie music world but fringe on being mainstream because of the rapturous critical acclaim that greets their work.

Kevin Parker has exciting new collaborations up his sleeve. Photo / Supplied
Kevin Parker has exciting new collaborations up his sleeve. Photo / Supplied

They've topped nearly every Best Album of the Year list, played hundreds of music festivals, including Glastonbury, multiple times and won eight ARIA awards from nineteen nominations.

They've also taken home a Brit award and been nominated twice for Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammys.

So yes, they're pretty good.

Tame Impala's dreamy, synth-heavy third record Currents, which came out last year, quickly became a favourite with both hipsters and the alternative music crowd.

But Parker says the lines between alternative music and mainstream pop have blurred considerably in recent years, and he's happy to sit in either camp.

"Ten or 20 years ago there was a really hard line," he says. "There were two definite camps: there was the mainstream world and then there was the alternative world and the two kind of hated each other. [There was] a really strong sense of belonging to which tribe you were a part of.

Kevin Parker has worked alongside  Lady Gaga, who proclaimed him 'a musical genius'. Photo / Universal Music
Kevin Parker has worked alongside Lady Gaga, who proclaimed him 'a musical genius'. Photo / Universal Music

"But I think people have matured beyond that. The music listening public have out-smarted that. Nowadays someone could be into some really experimental shit but also be into Miley Cyrus at the same time."

Parker could be talking about himself. Earlier this year he worked alongside pop royalty Lady Gaga, who proclaimed him "a musical genius".

"You know she's the one who's calling me a musical genius when she's the one transcribing the chords," he laughs. "I was just playing it. I didn't know what they were called. She was like, 'oh yeah that's an F major or an E', or whatever.

"[But] it was really great working with her and a real eye opener. I learned so much. She definitely has some music genius in her."

As for any future collaborations, Parker is coy. There's clearly something big in the pipeline but he can't say what.

"I have to be tight-lipped on that one. Oh man, I would love to stand on top of a mountain and scream it to the world, but it would spoil it."

As for his own music, the future is unclear. But the possibilities vast.

"It's anyone's guess really. There are so many kinds of doors opening at the moment for me and it's quite a different feeling," he says.

"I have never really felt like this before. The last few albums I've felt like I could kind of foresee ahead, like make another album or see how it's going to go. But for the first time it's totally blurry. But in a good way."

LOWDOWN:
Who: Kevin Parker is Tame Impala
What: Headlining Laneway Festival
When: January 30
Where: Albert Park, Auckland

- TimeOut

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