It’s hard to argue against the assertion that Tame Impala are the biggest band in the world right now. Their rise has been remarkable, going from cultish psychedelic rock heroes to the world-famous electro-pop band that has a song in the children’s film Minions: The Rise of Gru is one of the greatest success stories in modern music.
Their work has a universal appeal, and the diverse amount of heady textures that they utilise has made their fanbase one of the most diverse in contemporary culture. The band embody sunlight and summer, leading to them selling millions of records in the blink of an eye.
Whilst the band is made up of a group of friends from Perth, it is frontman Kevin Parker’s band. He is Tame Impala, and without him the outfit would cease to exist. He writes and records all of their music, and is rightly hailed as one of the definitive musical geniuses of the modern era. For one mind to produce such a high volume of timeless art is a rare feat.
Speaking to Uncut at Coachella in 2015, Parker responded to the question of whether he is a megalomaniac or not. “Not at all,” he asserted. “It’s just the way I prefer to work. I don’t think you can reach the same highs working in a band as you can on your own.”
“Nothing matches the sheer euphoria of discovering a new melody or a new batch of chords that just come out of nowhere. You have no idea where this music came from, but here you are listening to something you’ve just created and it’s affecting you emotionally, it’s groovy, it’s everything you wanted it to be. Those are the moments in my life when I’m most happy.”
Explaining why he creates and records the music on his own, he explained: “It’s not like I’m brooding or miserable or withdrawn. I’m just happier on my own. For me, it’s always been draining to be around people for too long because I’m naturally a pretty expressionless person. From an early age, I found being alone incredibly liberating. As a teenager, I was always trying to do things that would make me look cooler than I was and I’d get very frustrated because I was never comfortable in social situations. Once I finished school, I was like, ‘Well, fuck it. I’m done with people. I’ll just hang out by myself forever.’”
In the same interview, it’s established that even though Tame Impala play live as a band, in the early days, everyone understood that if they were to get signed, the Tame Impala heard on record would just be Parker as it was him steering the ship. Per an account by Parker, the day they signed to their long-term home, Modular, was “the day everything turned upside down”.
Clarifying how his creative process wasn’t going to change, Parker said: “At that point, I had to say, ‘Look, you know I just record on my own in my bedroom, don’t you? You know that’s the deal, right? You know it’s going to be me in a room with some microphones and some instruments or whatever?’”