Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is one of the most vital creatives to have emerged out of the last decade. He’s brightened the world with his kaleidoscopic sound, forging a unique path for himself and those who work alongside him. Over the course of his career, Parker has continuously kept moving and progressed the Tame Impala sound, and it should come as no surprise that his influences have fluctuated dramatically throughout his life.
It’s evident from listening to any piece of work by Tame Impala that Parker doesn’t have a solitary influence. Instead, he’s incorporated an eclectic range of sounds that spans eras, but the Australian paints a contemporary edge to whatever he does. His debut effort with Tame Impala arrived back in 2010, and before then, Parker was the drummer with Pond, but he’d been playing in local bands around the Perth scene ever since he was a teenager.
Music was unavoidable for him as a child, and his father passed on the love of bands from the golden era to his son. For as long as he can remember, Parker has been hooked on rock and roll. “Listening to my dad playing guitar along to ‘Sleepwalk’ by The Shadows was probably the first time I discovered emotion in music,” Parker vividly recalled to The Guardian in 2013.
“He had backing track versions of a few Shadows albums with the lead guitar cut out, and he’d just play along to them,” the Tame Impala maestro added. “It really got inside me, the melancholic emotion in the music. It was like I was watching a movie or something. I didn’t really know what was going on or why I was feeling these feelings.”
Although records from acts like The Shadows were omnipresent in the Parker household when he was a child, it wasn’t until that he fell in love with music that he’d discovered himself that the Australian realised that he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
In the same interview, Parker revealed that Freak Show by Silverchair is the record that made him want to make music and remains one of the most pivotal albums in his life. “I got into this album because my brothers were into it – they listened to a lot of grunge,” he said. “That time – I was 10 or 11 – was all about discovering rock music and realising how bad-ass it was. My brother had a drum kit and I started learning how to play. Actually, I started playing drums before I had the ambition to be in a band, but as soon as I fell in love with grunge that was all I wanted to do.
“Grunge gave me a sense of identity and I remember really associating with Silverchair, who were these chilled-out Australian teenagers. The fact that they were teenagers was a big deal for me. It was like: Oh man, you don’t have to be a 30-year-old to do this.”
Parker resonated with witnessing kids that he could relate to, which sparked a fire inside him, one that made him feel like music wasn’t this pipedream, and it was accessible to him. Although he loved the music from acts like The Shadows, Parker couldn’t connect with them on the same level as Silverchair, who looked like people he’d see on the streets of Perth. Even though his love of grunge isn’t apparent from listening to Tame Impala, that DIY spirit still exists inside him.