Eight brilliant Tame Impala side projects you need in your life

Tame Impala have had a huge few years. Their third album ‘Currents’ hit the UK Number Three and the Aussie Number One to become their best-charting yet, and Kevin Parker has become one of the most in-demand producers. But the music is almost exclusively written and recorded by frontman Parker, leaving the rest of the troupe with time on their hands. Luckily, they take advantage of that opportunity.

You’ll be familiar with Tame Impala offshoot Pond, but what about GUM? That’s the solo side-project of multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson, who’s just put out ‘Anesthetized Lesson’ – the first single from his imminent second GUM album, ‘Glamorous Damage’. And since the formation of the full Tame line-up, every single one of its members has had side projects on the boil at any one time. Here are some you might not be aware of, but should check out as soon as possible…

THEO IMPALA

Tame Impala representatives: Frontman Kevin Parker
What they sound like: Groovy R&B that’s best heard watching a lava lamp.
The story: Our Kev has become the go-to producers for plenty of stars lately – Lady Gaga, SZA, Kali Uchis, Travis Scott and more have all teamed up with the musician. Now, Theophilus London and Parker have teamed up to cook these intergalactic jams. Here’s a cover of Steve Monite’s ‘Only You’ to get things started.

ALLBROOK/AVERY
Tame Impala representatives: Then-bassist, Nick Allbrook; now-bassist, Cam Avery
What they sound like: Pond, lying by a lake making daisy chains, in a dream
The story: This is exactly what it says on the tin. Nick Allbrook moved in with his friend Cam Avery in early 2011 and started making music with him. Their album ‘Big ‘Art’ was released that year, and after they supported The Horrors on tour in Australia, four fifths of them recorded music with them – but it’s not yet seen the light of day.

THE GROWL
Tame Impala representative: Bassist, Cam Avery
What they sound like: The Black Keys worshipping at the altar of Bass.
The story: Cam Avery began the project with his mate Clint Oliver in 2011. After their EP, ‘Cleaver Leaver’ was released that year, it became a six-piece band, releasing their debut LP ‘What Would Christ Do??’ in April 2013, following an international tour with Tame Impala.

GUM
Tame Impala representative: Drummer/keys player, Jay Watson
What it sounds like: It used to sound very like Pond – on ‘Anesthetized Lesson’ he’s put that sound through a synthy flux capacitor
The story: Jay Watson released his first solo album ‘Delorean Highway’ in 2014. Not not a Back to the Future concept album, no – it’s “paranoid pop songs mostly about falling in love and all of the things that he thinks are going to kill him,” he says. Three glorious albums, ‘Glamorous Damage’, ‘Flash In The Pan’ and ‘The Underdog’ have followed since.

AQUASERGE
Tame Impala representative: Drummer, Julien Barbagallo
What they sound like: These days? Playful, ‘Melody Nelson’-era Serge Gainsbourg
The story: Another French connection here. Toulouse psych outfit Aquaserge have been making music since 2010, and Barbagallo’s been part of Tame Impala since then, as well as his roles in Tahiti 80 and Hyperclean. They make concept records about Serge, “survivor and savant, who wanders in the abyss aboard his cigar-shaped submarine.” Don’t ask why.

KEVIN SPACEY
Tame Impala representatives: Bassist, Cam Avery; frontman Kevin Parker
What they sound like: Tame Impala pissing about – so, brilliant
The story: Parker’s friend, a Perth musician called Felicity Groom, had her car stolen in 2013. At the time, she was heavily pregnant, so Parker and Avery decided to raise money for her via a spontaneous gig. They repeated the feat under the moniker The Golden Triangle Municipal Funk Band later that year, and again as AAA Aardvark Getdown Services in 2014.

BARBAGALLO
Tame Impala representative: Drummer, Julien Barbagallo
What it sounds like: At its best – a Spaghetti Western love story
The story: Barbagallo joined Tame Impala in 2012 and has been a fixture ever since, while continuing his projects with Tahiti 80, Aquaserge and Hyperclean. Now living in Australia, he decided to craft a solo LP from what he called his ‘chambre de moine’ – monk’s cell. This one’s is called ‘Amor de Lonh’ – which is Occitan, the Southern French dialect for ‘Distant Love’.

MINK MUSSEL CREEK
Tame Impala representatives: Frontman, Kevin Parker; then-bassist, Nick Allbrook
What they sound like: Exactly what you’d expect
The story: Technically, this one predates Tame Impala. Kevin and Nick were in MMC in 2007 alongside Pond’s Shiny Joe Ryan and two others – they once played 100 shows in a year, and tried to record an album the next year. Things went wrong. The studio they were recording at didn’t like what they’d put down, and they never received the tapes. In 2011, after Tame Impala’s initial success, they re-recorded the whole thing and released it in 2014. Their album ‘Mink Mussel Manticore’ was born.