Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker On The Soundtrack Of His Life

Riding high on the wave of latest album ‘Currents’, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker talks to NME about pretending to be Michael Jackson and drunk dancing to James Brown…

The First Song I Remember Hearing

‘Smooth Criminal’ – Michael Jackson: “My brother, who’s a couple of years older than me, had a cassette and he was showing it off to me, and that was one of the songs on it. It had a pretty lasting impact on me – I got so obsessed that I used to walk around my school with my cardigan around my elbows, pretending I was Michael Jackson. I didn’t bother with friends and stuff. The rest of the guys were having running races.”

The First Song I Fell In Love With

‘Sleepwalk’ – The Shadows: “They were an English surf rock band. My dad used to play them on guitar all the time. He played in a few cover bands, but he just loved The Shadows. He used to have this CD of a recording backing track that he used to play, and he’d play the lead lines and I’d just sit in the garage saying ‘fuck!’ It was so emotional – it’s all instrumental but the guitar lines made me want to weep. It was my introduction into emotional melodies. “

The First Album I Bought

Batman Forever OST: “I would have got it from the terrible CD shop that my mum took me to. It was just all these artists – I didn’t know who they were, I didn’t know any of these names – there’s a Seal song, U2, Flaming Lips. At that stage I didn’t even know what an album was, it was just all these songs by all these different singers. I could just picture Batman being a badass and sometimes wooing Nicole Kidman.”

The Song That Made Me Want To Be In A Band

‘Freak’ – Silverchair: “It was super grunge. They just had this fucking attitude: just three longhaired dudes slaying their instruments – headbanging and shouting. And I still like the music, it’s not just about that. The song’s still an amazing song. It’s quite discordant, he’s intentionally playing a weird chord that’s not very nice to the ear. I saw the clip and they were quite young Australian dudes. ‘It’s not on the other side of the world, it’s on the other side of the country, and they’re only a little bit older than me – so if I work hard now, I can get where they are by the time I’m 15!’ I was 11 or 12.”

The Song That Makes Me Dance

‘Sex Machine’ – James Brown: “It’s real deal funk. So if I’m drunk enough then my body will begin to move before my brain has a chance to stop me – which is usually what happens. Anytime that I’m actually able to dance, I would be in a position that I don’t remember. You’d have to ask the people that were sober enough around me about my moves.”

My Karaoke Song

‘…Baby One More Time’ – Britney Spears: “It would be something by Britney Spears, going in the vein of the shittest, most disposable pop ever. Anything from her first album, really. The last time I did karaoke was a bar in Perth. It was our manager’s birthday. We used to do it every Thursday at this pub down the road from us – it was one of those things where it was the whole pub and everyone gets up. My friend would always do ‘With Or Without You’ by U2, trying to win the audience’s approval. I did Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Suzie Q’.”

The Song I Want Played At My Funeral

‘The Court of The Crimson King’ – King Crimson: “I was about to say something hilarious and ironic, like ‘Start Me Up’ by The Rolling Stones, but I’m going to go with epic. Let’s say ‘The Court of The Crimson King’ as I’m lowered into the fire! It’s probably the most epic song I know. It’s seven minutes long, and just when you think it stops, it starts back up again, even more epic.”

The Song I Wish I’d Written

‘September’ – Earth Wind & Fire: “You’d be the life of the party. It’s super groovy, it’s super good times party vibes. If you had a song like that in your arsenal, you could just bust it out and it would be instant good times. It would be like a secret weapon – a button that you could push. If you were playing a gig and it was super cold, you could start playing that.”

This piece originally appeared in the February 1 2014 issue of NME