Kevin Parker has given an extensive interview to producer Rick Rubin, in which he revealed he “outright lied” to his first record label that Tame Impala was a band, instead of a solo project.
When asked by Rubin on the April 29 episode of his Broken Record podcast why he chose the moniker Tame Impala (as opposed to his own name), Parker said he wanted to give the impression the musical project was a band.
“In fact, the record label when they signed us didn’t even know it was me that was playing drums and guitars and bass and multi-tracking,” said Parker.
“I outright lied to them when we met up. The contract that we signed was for three of us. I didn’t want to say it was just me, for a number of reasons. Number one, I was kind of shy. Looking back, it’s like, why the fuck didn’t you just own it?” he said.
“Another thing is the music scene I was in was a very communal scene. We lived to jam and lived to play gigs. For the thing that finally came out of that scene to be just a solo project felt kind of wrong.
“It would be like – the scene we had in Perth, there weren’t that many people, but we made tons of bands out of it. There’d be like 10 people, and there’d be six bands with different combinations of those people, because hey, why the fuck not?”
The exchange happens around the 16-minute mark of the podcast, which you can hear in full below:
Parker noted he began having a change of heart because it began “eating away” at him “that it wasn’t the truth”.
“I wanted people to know that it was more of a solo recording project, because I realised solo artists get away with completely changing their sound a lot more than bands do,” said Parker, citing Beck as one example.
“At the start of Tame Impala, when I was sort of 21, 22, we were playing songs that I’d written for us to play live, and they were different to the ones I was recording at home or even had on MySpace. It took a while for the two worlds to converge, if that makes sense,” he said.
“I didn’t know how to translate what I was doing at home and expressing on my own. Because that music was sensitive – I guess is the word – and nuanced, and genreless. But the music I was making in bands was what we listened to as a group – angsty, heavy kind of stuff.”
When questioned on his influences during Tame Impala’s formative days, Parker referred to the ’60s as his main form of inspiration. “The Doors, Jefferson Airplane… I didn’t have a lot of modern-day idols, just because that was the kind of lifestyle I was leading,” Parker said. He also named Dungen as a formative influence he still loves “that just gives me goosebumps.”
“I had this surge of confidence that I didn’t have prior. When I made ‘Innerspeaker’, I was just this shy kind-of stoner. We had a lot of success with the first album… and I realised it kind of validated my approach and what I wanted to do. ‘Lonerism’ was just blowing that wide open.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Parker also gave insight into his creative process and shared a “very candid” voice memo of a skeletal Tame Impala song.
Parker’s appearance on Rubin’s podcast follows one on the podcast Song Exploder, where he dissected the song ‘It Might Be Time’. Tame Impala are set to perform this weekend as part of NTS’s 24-hour livestream concert Remote Utopias. Parker also recently took part in a televised Australian and New Zealand livestream, in which he played an acoustic version of ‘On Track’.