Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker is a one-man band and a creative tour de force. Inspiration can strike him in a million different ways, and he doesn’t care about the genre as long as the drumming is on point.
Parker began life as a drummer, and before he found fame with Tame Impala, he played in a series of bands, including Pond. He was 11 years old when he started drumming and once said he started making “excessively melodic music from about the age of 12 to 15”.
Even though Tame Impala present themselves as a live band, when it comes to recording, they operate as a dictatorship with Parker playing all the instruments. This method has been his preferred way of working ever since being a teenager, and it’s no coincidence Tame Impala have an album titled Lonerism.
When he sits down to create a song, the overwhelming majority of his time is spent perfecting the drums, and his relentless work ethic is what makes Tame Impala so formidable. “People think I’m joking when I say I spend 90% of my time on drums when I’m working on a song but it’s dead true,” he once said in a feature with Pitchfork.
“It’s like me chasing the dragon. I love drums sounds that are fuzzed out and destroyed sounding but I also love the opposite of that,” Parker also told the publication.
On another occasion, he said: “Once I’ve got something that I feel is strong, if I get long enough to think about it, it’ll turn into something. I’ll start thinking about the drums – what the drums are doing, what the bass is doing. Then, if I can remember it by the time I get to a recording device, it’ll turn into a song.”
During his appearance on the Song Exploder podcast, Parker delved more deeply into his drum obsession and revealed he couldn’t bring himself to work on a song unless it features a drum sound which inspires him. It’s sacrosanct to the Australian and also partially explains his brilliance.
He explained: “I like to have drums sounding good off the bat, because a bad drum sound for me is the least inspiring thing. Like, I can’t work on a song. Even when I record drums for just messing around, it’s still this sound that I’ve dialled in.”
To hear more about Parker’s unflinching approach to creativity, listen to his appearance on the Song Exploder podcast below.