LET IT HAPPEN - Jon Savage on The New Pop and how Tame Impala is throwing it all in the Magimix.
Jon Savage in Conversation with Kevin Parker.
Tame impala are the breakout rock group of the moment: fusing pop, grunge, psychedelia and, on their latest record Currents, contemporary R&B. They are the sound of 2016: making music that sounds completely contemporary,in the now. The surfaces are seductive, but repeated listening reveals many subtleties in sound and in lyrics that examine switchback emotions. The depth of their appeal can be seen in the fact that Rihanna has covered New Person, Same Old Mistakes on her new album Anti - a mash-up of styles that defines 21st century pop. Tame Impala is Kevin Parker. Since 2010 he has released three wonderful albums: Innerspeaker, Lonerism and Currents.
Everything on those records is played, recorded, mixed and produced by himself. The result is a dizzying sequence of songs that use sound itself as a prime communicant - moving through the albums from psychedelia to sensory overload and glistening disco. These moods complement lyrics that deal with serious thoughts: “the only person who’s really judging you is yourself” Alter Ego; “everything is changing / and there’s nothing I can do”(Apocalypse Dreams).“Self questioning through music,” is how Parker describes the first two records. But on the opening track from Currents, Let It Happen, this confusion resolves into a kind of acceptance - a voice saying “let it happen,let It happen (It’s gonna feel so good).” Matched to a fresh clarity and an upbeat sound palette, this introduces a record that celebrates growth and change, endings and new beginnings. The three Tame Impala albums -rather like the four Velvet Underground albums constitute a psychological journey, whether intentional or not, from doubt to joy, from indie to pop,from adolescence to adulthood.
Kevin Parker has just turned 30 and lives in Perth, Australia. He talks about this and many other matters via digital communications from the other side of the world.
JS: Okay, let me just check that this is all working and then we can start. (Jon knocks everything over)
KP: All okay Jon?
JS: This isn’t very good for my image.
KP: It’s a rare occasion that everything works.
JS: actually did a whole interview with a big musical icon once and forgot to turn on the tape recorder.
KP: Oh no, I did one of those too and I only discovered it right at the end.
JS: it was with Iggy Pop and I was just completely mortified.
KP: Iggy Pop!? (laughs)i know… (laughs)
KP: Did you tell him, or did you just make up the rest?
JS: No, you know what - the great thing about Iggy now is that he’s a complete professional and when I said “I fucked up - I’m really sorry” he just did the whole thing again.
KP: No way!
JS: It was good of him, right. So the first thing I wanted to ask you is -is it correct that you wrote and recorded all three albums (Innerspeaker, Lonerism and Currents) by yourself?
JS: So how do you motivate yourself?
KP: It’s just what I do, you know. It’s more a case of if I don’t do it, then I start feeling shit about myself and start feeling like I have no purpose. If I’m ever feeling depressed or down on the dumps - it’s usually because I haven’t written or recorded a song in a while. Even if it’s just a melody or a musical passage: just like coming out with something like that is what makes me feel good about myself.
JS: It’s quite hard to work by yourself, so how do you stop going down the rabbit hole?
KP: I tend to think that getting lost down the rabbit hole is one of the most important parts. It’s one of the best things about writing or recording music by yourself. That’s one of the pleasures. Not to have any ties, or anchors, in reasonable logical thought you know.
JS: So you have no producers or bass players saying “we really can’t do it that way”?
KP: Well I do, but they’re all inside my head.
KP: I mean, all the times that I’ve written and made music with other people, it’s been a completely different experience. It’s no less fun - it’s probably more fun, it’s more about doing something crazy but there’s always a voice of reason like people kind of leverage each other out.If someone has an idea that’s kind of like way out - chances are that someone will think it’s really bad, but when you’re by yourself thoughts just rattle around infinitely in your head. It’s extremely pleasurable and it’s become the thing that I live for, because if I’ve made a song and I haven’t been completely lost at some point - you know lost in a good way, as you say down the rabbit hole - if that hasn’t happened, then I won’t be satisfied with making that song. To me that’s a sign that I’m on to something good, you know that I’m able to completely disappear into it.
JS: I very much got that feeling on Lonerism. I mean it’s such a bright, buzzy sound on that record and sometimes it almost threatens to overwhelm you.and I thought that was part of the thing that you were doing. It’s a record about trying to connect and you got all this buzzing stuff going on, which is in the way sometimes.
KP: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I think with Lonerism I really kind of tapped in to what was possible doing it by myself. You know, like the first album I felt like I had to make it sound like it was a band. I started out and kind of ended up sounding like a bunch of dudes jamming out. That’s why so many people thought we were a band. It just sounded like that and I was good at playing along with myself, like multi-tracking.Just lying down playing the guitar and then playing drums on top and doing it in a way that sounds like a collective of people, and only limiting the amount of sounds to what was potentially possible for a group of people in a room. Whereas with Lonerism I just threw all of that out of the window and went “fuck it” I really explored the possibilities of multi-tracking,over dubbing yourself hundreds of times. You know, there were songs that had 120 channels in them and stuff - you know like a vocal surge that had 16 voices in it just for one, you know all of that kind of stuff. Having three melodies go at once, all completely distorted and blown out you know. It was that kind of album.
JS: One thing that I really like about it - I mean I really like the lyrics as well,is the way that the sound is part of the whole deal, very much so. Obviously you got the melodies and the structures of a pop song, but then the sound is communicating as well as the lyrics - you’ve got a sort of fourth level going on.
KP: Okay, for sure. You’re spot on.
JS: Is that something that’s very intuitive?
KP: Yeah, of course. It’s kind of the part that I take pride in the most. It’s definitely what I spend the most time on. I’ll do a drum take, it’ll just be the first take and even if I fucked up a few times in the take I’ll just leave it because it had the most natural feel, but then I’ll spend 6 months mixing the drums for it. You know, going back every day and changing something small. Same with every other thing - I’ll do a keyboard take and then spend the best part of a year making it sound right.The actual recording part is a fraction of the whole thing, because for me the sound is like… I guess that’s what producers do when they'rein the outside world - all those roles roll in to one. I never know what’s producing, mixing, song writing - it means the same thing but for me the difference between a song sounding completely amateur and sounding like the best thing I’ve ever done is just how I make it sound.
JS: I think the fact that you’re combining all those roles is what makes it sound unique, because it sounds like a complete whole. In a way I couldn’t distinguish one part from the other. I don’t mean music parts, I mean all the different things you put in. I think that’s really great. It actually makes for very distinctive, very contemporary pop music.
KP: Yeah, I think as I’ve grown up and as my music has gone out to the world that’s kind of one of the qualities that I’ve noticed that it has. At the start I never really knew why I got a record deal [laughs], why people were listening and why more people were getting in to it. I’m starting to appreciate that that’s what people like about it is that it sounds like one big monster, one big thing rolled together.
JS: So what music did you - I mean obviously there’s a lot of psychedelia in your work. Is that what you listened to when you were a kid?
KP: Not when I was a kid… I’m trying to work out when it was that I listened to the most psychedelia, or the music that influenced what I sound like. For me it’s never been a conscious thing. I mean there was a time when me and a bunch of the guys that are in the band, the live band and a few other people - we all kind of lived together in this kind of shared house and living this life style, listening to that kind of music.You know, everything from The Doors to Aphex Twin. It was pretty much like as long as it was freaky in some way.
JS: You were born in early 1986. So when you were about 12, sort of the end of the millennium. I’m just trying to think what was the kind of music you really started listening to when you were a kid.
KP: When I was 12, I mean I was just coming into teenage years so it was pretty much anything with any kind of angst [laughs] sewn into it.I listened to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins and then there was all of that early 2000 punk rock, Unwritten Law - that kind of stuff. Even like Rage Against the Machine.The Smashing Pumpkins record that I had - or the one that my brother had - was Siamese Dream, which still just defines an entire part of my life.That’s the album that kind of for me makes the most sense of what my music ended up sounding like.The vibe that I get from listening to it seems to be, you know the closest thing to what I’m heading towards, that kind of emotion. It’s crusty and aggressive but it’s completely sensitive at the same time. You know, it’s like blown out. Years later I found out that that album is mostly Billy Corgan on his own. He was completely multi-tasking the whole thinq and was layering like 60 guitars of his own - his own takes on top of each other. It’s funny how I ended up being that same kind of deal.
JS: And did you like My Bloody Valentine?
KP: Yeah, but you know what - My Bloody Valentine is one of those bands that I ended up finding out about later when people said that I sounded like them.There’s a few other bands I got into because people were like “oh it sounds a bit like My Bloody Valentine or it sounds like Kyuss.
JS: I saw them twice in 1990 when they were doing Loveless live.
KP: Wow, what was that like?
JS: Oh fantastic! Absolutely fantastic!
KP: I saw them a couple of years ago. It was everything I hoped but I was standing near the sound desk and people were literally just turning around and swearing and abusing the sound guy, and I remember the sound guy joking to us saying that he used to have a sign that he held up saying that it’s supposed to sound this way [laughs]. So yeah, take from that what you will.
JS: So in a way you also grew up totally with digital music with all music being available really. Did you feel that when you were growing up?
KP: Not really. I mean the days of me being totally obsessed with music, which was like late teens - when I got the real depths of it. Not to say that I’m not obsessed with music now but you know, like how it completely defined who I was. I remember like downloading a song on the internet and starting it at the start of a night and maybe at the end of the night I had that song - you know, being absolutely over the moon when the song finally finished downloading, from wherever it was legally, illegally, whatever. It was funny later when I was older - music was available to anyone, because it didn’t really feel very available at the time for me.
JS: So you still kind of had to seek things out?
KP: Yeah, definitely. I still saved up to buy albums and stuff. I must have been 16 or something and I had CDs stacked in my room. CDs were still a big thing.
JS: So did you grow up in Perth?
KP: Yeah, I was born in Sydney. I spent most of my life in Perth.
JS: Okay, so when you were young were there alternative record stores and mainstream record stores?
KP: I didn’t really care. It was just a CD shop you know. There were record stores but it wasn’t something I discovered until I was like 20.
JS: And so you would listen to what - a mixture of electronic and punk and a bit of grunge?
KP: Yeah, I listened to a range really. I think when I first heard Radiohead I was into… that was the thing with me - someone would show mean album and I’d get obsessed with it and not even look at the rest of the albums by that band. It was a terrible ethic. There was a Radiohead album that I listened to over and over again - Amnesiac, and that was at the same time as I was listening to like Incubus or something, and there was that and around the same time I found the Air album so there was just four completely different things.
JS: I love Air. They’re really amongst my very favourites.
KP: Oh man. I think Talkie Walkie is probably my favourite album of all time.
JS: I can see that because I can see a little bit of Air in you.
KP: Yeah. Well actually Air is a kind of artist, or band, that I always loved and always completely respected, but never have worked into my own music until this album. This album is the first time Air shone through.Now that I think about it, it’s crazy! When I first heard that album - I must have been 16 or 17 - I was making music in my parents’ music room which was their converted garage. My dad had sound proofed it,you know so he could play guitar really loudly. There was a computer that used to be the family computer that was just sitting in there in the music room now, and my dad’s friend put this music program on it, on this like CD rom. My dad and his friend used to use it to rehearse songs together. They had this duo where they practiced songs.The computer was so primitive, you couldn’t even play music out of it while you were recording music into it. I was just discovering. Up until then I just used a tape machine to record, you know like a living room variety tape player to record music. I suddenly had this digital thing. I didn’t know what I was doing but I was recording little bits and putting them in to where I could - making music out of it and I was listening to Air at the same time and Radiohead. I was just like amazed and sort of obsessed with this idea… you know I found a piece of swimming pool pipe and I swung it around and it made this kind of weird whirling sound and I was like "sweet, I’ll record that’.’ I was just kind of infatuated with recording music on my own.
JS: Air are a fantastic group to wake up to. Because it’s kind of creamy and very melodic and it’s a whole sound again and also the lyrics are actually pretty sharp.
KP: Yeah, I just love it how it’s so soothing and alien and freaky at the same time. I love all things that seem like opposites, going together. You know, opposites that weirdly belong together.
JS: Well I think that’s very important - it’s like a sort of juxtaposition and that’s the way you make something new.
KP: Yeah, exactly.
JS: I didnt expect us to end up talking about Air. How fantastic we share that passion. So tell me about your lyrics, are they autobiographical or do you just get yourself into a mode?
KP: I think they all are to some degree. Again, I don’t think I’d be able to finish a song, I don’t think I’d be able to feel passionate enough about it to finish it unless it’s a story that’s close to my heart, you know. It’s sort of therapeutic to me first and foremost. I like the idea that if I write some lyrics or a song that has some message to it, that it’s going to be a message to other people as well as me.That’s something I only started thinking about when I started making the albums I knew people were waiting for and I knew that people were going to listen to, which is like after the first album. For me it’s important that it’s something I know closely, you know.
JS: Yes. I mean there’s a lot of fascinating stuff in the lyrics, I have to say.There are some great lines. I was thinking of the first album - "the only one who is really judging you is yourself” from Alter Ego. From your first album I very much got a sense of confusion and paradoxes - “dare I face the world” Is that how you felt then? Because you must have been 20 something? Early 20?
KP: I was 22-23, definitely a time where I was trying to work myself out.I had a lot of questions: it was this time when I was living with a bunch of other guys and we lived that kind of lifestyle where we were trying things and I was secretly bringing out all the soul questions that I had. I was taking a bit of acid, smoking a lot of weed. My dad had actually died the year before I made Innerspeaker.
JS: That’s a really serious event.
KP: Yeah, it was a weird time. I was sorting myself out. I was trying to solve a few questions… I don’t know, I don’t know. It was a huge time of self discovery and self questioning for me. It kind of kicked off the whole Tame Impala perspective in a way. That kind of self questioning through music.
JS: That’s very good. Self Questioning Through Music: I love it [laughs].Where did the name come from?
KP: I don’t really know where it came from. I was thinking of a name for a psychedelic band. It was meant to fit that mould. It’s an Impala because my parents were Zimbabwean and South African so I wanted it to be an African animal. I felt that was kind of my personal thing rather than like a panther or…
JS: A Kangaroo?
KP: Yeah, well I’ve got massive cultural cringe so I was never going to be an Australian animal. I liked the impalas. I thought they were cool animals and that kind of reminded me of somewhere that I’ve come from historically, not geographically. As soon as I was trying to think of a name I just said Tame Impala in my head. I don’t know why. I also thought in the end that I liked the idea that the name described this connection with a wild animal.The idea is not that it’s a tamed impala - it’s still a wild one but fora brief moment… the idea is that you would see one in the wild and you suddenly have this connection with it and it has a connection with you.It’s like an unspoken connection with something foreign and way out. And then it flickers of into the wild, you know. It’s this brief spontaneous connection, kind of thing.
JS: So on the second album you’re still trying to work out where you are in the world.
KP: With Lonerism I definitely wanted to tell a story. Or not a story - in fact I didn’t want anything.The kind of music I was suddenly making, or being able to make: melodically, it kind of just reminded me of when I was a kid trying to connect with people and feeling quite alienated socially.The first album didn’t really have anything to do with someone in their place - that kind of social world around them - but for some reason the second album just felt right to be talking about that.It’s also because since the first album came out we were touring a lot more and there were a lot of social situations that I hadn’t been in since I was much younger. You know, I spent the Innerspeaker days pretty much just with seven people. I just shut myself off and didn’t have to worry about other people. With Lonerism, the theme of the album just happened. I started singing about things that I hadn’t really talked about before which was the feeling of being alienated, trying to be connected with other people and the feeling of failing. It was still quite self questioning - it still had that kind of thing but the songs were all about not knowing your place in the world socially.
JS: I here’s some fantastic lines there - Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control [laughs].
KP: That one…l felt a kick out of making it such a long song title. I was like this feels daring. That song is kind of about finding yourself in a situation, like a predicament. You and someone else and the only comfort you have is by reassuring yourselves that it wasn’t you that decided to do it like that. It wasn’t under our control - the steps that led to this predicament. You know? Like it wasn’t our fault - we were just doing what we were doing.
JS: And also, that’s what it’s like when you’re in your twenties. You know,you’re living in a world that adults have created - it’s not the world you created is it?
KP: Yeah, for sure.
JS: Okay, the most recent album. It’s very different, and what I like about it… I mean you laid it out on Let It Happen - you’re actually saying you’ve got to adapt to change, this is inevitable, just roll with it basically. I loved the counter synth melody on that one. It comes about three minutes in and it just sweeps you up. Do you know the one I mean?
KP: Oh yeah, the big string section. Cool!
JS: I also like the way you did - 1 don’t know how you call it - the repeat that sounds like a CD is stuck. That’s a very effective, new pop device. You did it in a very crude, broken-sounding way. How do you do that?
KP: I just did it manually, literally… there’s lots of ways you can do it digitally, but I just did it one way which is the only way I know how. I just love the idea of that; for me it really pricked my ears up, made me feel really satisfied. I guess it’s the only way to describe it - having that really cold digital repitition, that cold digital repetition and then suddenly this kind of really organic string thing comes sort of just washing in - this orchestral surge. It’s the most organic thing that can possibly happen coming on top of this seemingly broken CD player sound.
KP: Again, I love the way those two things seemed like opposites that go together in a way. Again, I’m not really sure what made me think of that string thing, that string part in the song but I’ve always been into Serge Gainsbourg… I can’t remember who the guy was who arranged his strings. Jean-Claude Vannier or something?
JS: Oh yeah, he did a fantastic solo LP too. I can’t remember what it’s called now. Something about the flies (L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches).
KP: That’s a good example of me being influenced by something. I just did it and then it was recorded and it was done and then I sort of try to trace back to what made me think of that in the first place - like where did that come from? And I think it was actually something to do with Serge Gainsbourg.
JS: So I mean the album in general - it seems like a whole piece to me, even though obviously there’s lots of different tracks and whatever and I like the short tracks. You know, I like Gossip and I like Nangs, they just break it all up. But also it seems to be about… it’s adapting to change, dealing with the end of a relationship and what happens when you start with a new one - a sort of sense of opening but yet being scared. You, know it’s a very strange time when you start a relationship. Is that correct?
KP: Yeah, for sure. A phrase that comes to mind when I think of what the album is telling you is “just give in” It’s like an album that’s telling you just to give in to these kind of forces that are there. You know, it’s kind of meant to be a bit of a 180% turn from what the Tame Impala perspective is - which is like self discovery, discipline in a way because I think with the first album there are a few concepts that were meant to be vaguely Buddhist in nature. You know, to appreciate only what is real and what is right. But with this album it’s kind of like, “well you know what, there are a million voices in my head telling me all this. I’m just going to go with this”.
JS: So it’s about intuition and to some extent surrender, which is a great thing I think.
KP: Exactly. Surrender.
JS: Because the ego always says you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that, you’ve got to put your stamp on it and sometimes it’s just impossible.
KP: Right, right. It’s kind of also about growing up and realising if you don’t follow your intuition now - you never will. It’s now or never basically.
JS: Are there moments when you record when you feel as if the music is playing you rather than you playing the music?
KP: Yeah, that’s usually when I feel like I’m in the zone, when I’m not really thinking per se - it’s just something… you know, you reach this kind of like… you know it’s what people that are meditating want to achieve - it’s that sort of state where you’re not having to think of anything, you just do it but you’re listening to it and if the music tells you to do something you do it. It’s like this cycle - you’re creating and listening at the same time.
JS: And you’re completely lucid as well.
KP: Yeah. Exactly.
JS: So on the last track - New Person, Same Old Mistakes - it’s kind of the ultimate track isn’t it and you’ve got a great bridge there and you’re kind of going against yourself by the end.
KP: That was meant to be the concept. The concept of the song is someone arguing with themselves, it’s like the angel on your shoulder and the devil on your shoulder you know. That kind of… not to make it so Disney or whatever, but that kind of internal conflict. If you listen carefully you can actually hear one side of the argument is pan slide to the left and the other side is pan slide to the right, you know so that the kind of narrator in response is slightly panned left and slightly panned to the right.
JS: So were you surprised when Rihanna covered it?
KP: Yeah, it was more just like “woah, this is happening’.’ I didn’t know what they were going to do, officially. They just said that Rihanna wanted to do something with it on her album. You know, these days I’ve learnt to sort of expect crazy things. You know like things like that out of the blue turn up all the time.
JS: It was a great tribute as well, a real moment.
KP: Yeah, well especially because when I was writing the song I kind of had an RnB artist in mind. You know, that’s something I do a lot - think of a song and imagine the song in its natural habitat and then think about where it’s going to end up later. You know, I’ll just record it… you know, I don’t even always record songs knowing they’re going to be Tame Impala songs. I’ve got a bunch of songs that I’ve started - that I don’t have any intention to be Tame Impala songs. In fact, a lot of the songs that are on the albums didn’t start out as intentional Tame Impala songs. It’s something like half and half. So yeah, New Person, Same Old Mistakes - when I was writing it,when I was doing the demo for it, I was thinking that I could give it to an R’n’B artist and maybe if they like it they can put it on their album. That would be my dream - to write songs for other artists. It’s kind of like a secret fantasy for me. So in the end I thought by the time I’ve finished the song it actually sounds like Tame Impala because it’s me doing it in the end. It’s my kind of production, it’s me playing all the instruments so it ends up sounding like Tame Impala. So I kind of forgot about the fact that I intended it to be for a different artist, and so when Rihanna finally did a version of it, it was crazy how full circle it felt. I was like "oh shit,this is how in my head it sounded at the very beginning”.
JS: And did she use some of the backing track or did she record her own?
KP: I think it’s mostly my instrumentation. I gave them the stems thinking they were going to sort of make their own completely new version of it. I didn’t know they were going to leave it mostly intact.
JS: Modern R’n’B just sounds fantastic.
KP: I know what you mean. I’ve been obsessed as well. It’s just this thing like “how do I make that” you know.
JS: And it’s probably the most creative, as far as sound is concerned - the most creative mainstream pop format.
KP: Definitely. Yeah, especially because it’s such a fine line between something sounding amateur and something sounding like a million dollars. Even the top producers in R’n’B - they’re used to doing it on their laptops with a program that’s probably free off the internet. The difference between something that gets heard by one person and something that gets heard by millions of people is really just this sort of subtle placement of a chord or a drum hit, which fascinates me. Because for me - I was growing up on pop music on one side and alternative music on the other side and whatever you do - it has to be miles different from everyone else.
JS: But that split between pop and alternative is bullshit of course.
KP: Right. Exactly. Which is something I discovered while making this album - things don’t have to be completely polarized.
JS: What I don’t like about a lot of pop music now - it’s so obviously someone’s idea of mainstream pop music and that’s what I really liked about your records is that they do combine pop music with that element of surprise really, not even freakiness - surprise, something new. A ‘new pop’.
KP: I think the tides are turning on that more tired aspect of pop music.You know, I actually believe that it’s all getting more inventive and also the line between what is mainstream and what is alternative is becoming more and more blurred, which for me is a good thing.
JS: Well, I agree because I always like to hear something I’ve never heard before. When you were doing Currents, when you were planning it, when you were doing it - did you have an idea that it was going to be different from the first two or did it just happen that way?
KP: I did want to do something different but then at the same time,I always want to do something different. For me there’s no point in doing it unless it is in some way different. As I’ve been making albums,I kind of get addicted to that feeling of going completely out of your comfort zone - both for my own appreciation, trying something new,and also to surprise other people that are anticipating it. The feeling of giving people the idea that they don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s something I got addicted to. Along with that, there are just so many things musically, that I realise that I hadn’t pursued yet - things that I have always loved, types of music that I have always loved and that have always been so close tome -that I hadn’t really incorporated. Pop music, disco, funk music, or all kinds of things that I considered guilty pleasures because I considered them sort of like disposable or less intellectual than alternative music or experimental music. You know, I suddenly just shook off that kind of indie guilt… what’s the word. Punk rock guilt. All that kind of thing. I just realised that my love of music and making music was bigger than that. Also I guess I felt like, in the past,I didn’t know how to include those kind of elements in the music that I was making. I still consider Lonerism to be a total pop album because the melodies are pop.They’re all pop songs in my own opinion, my own mind. But going down that kind of Michael Jackson vein of pop music was something I hadn’t really done. I didn’t know how to incorporate that into the kind of psych rock I was making. But I think this time, I was just willing to try anything.
JS: How did you do? Did you start with the groove?
KP: I guess it depends which song but usually it starts with the melody, always. Melody and chords. I just have the idea for that. I mean it’s kind of all at the same time though, you know. I’ll just have the idea for the song. It sounds cheesy, but I just start playing in my head like I just flicked on the radio. Do you know what I mean?
KP: It’s kind of something I’ve got better at doing since I was really young.
JS: So was there any disco records you particularly liked?
KP: Not strictly disco - anything from Daft Punk to the Beach Boys to Michael Jackson. That’s kind of the triangle of my influence in terms of the disco part. It’s an amazing moment of liberation, you know when you’ve learnt to accept or decide not to shut out things that you’ve felt inclined to shut out before.
JS: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have fun and a lot of alternative music is just not fun.
KP: Yeah, because a lot of it is wrapped up in the message… it’s more exclusive than inclusive.
JS: I see a lot of rock music as being about generational identification - you know, it’s something you do with a bunch of people in a particular time in your life.
KP: Yeah.That identity thing is something that was so deeply imbedded in me for so many of my years growing up. By deciding what I loved it informed what I hated at the same time. I considered myself a grunge¦ kid 50 that pretty much dictated what I thought was pulp and also the demographic you know. I was part of these people that listened to that music therefore all the people I didn’t associate with were teeny buffers that listened to pop music.
JS: Yeah, I was the same.
KP: Yeah, I think we all were at some point.You just have this realisation. There’s no such thing as intellectual music.
JS: So, do you feel connected to your generation at all or are you very much just in your own world? Do you feel connected now with the outside world?
KP: I feel more connected now than I have in a long time; more than I did when I was 20, ten years ago. Only because now… not that I’m trying to accept, but I’m just interested.Ten years ago I wasn’t interested in what people in the same age as me were listening to.
JS: So what’s next?
KP: Physically, we’re going to be touring for the rest of the year, but everything non physical… for the first time I don’t really know.
JS: That’s interesting.
KP: It is, it is. I think with this last album it was kind of a gateway album.It kind of opened a lot of doors - it’s was kind of half the intention as well, to open things up.
JS: So you’re not going to do a new album very soon?
KP: I don’t know. I could suddenly wake up tomorrow and make a whole new album, but I didn’t wake up today feeling that way… Do you know what I mean?JS: I don’t blame you [laughs]. But if you’ve had a success, you might as well enjoy it.
KP: Yeah, I mean at the same time it’s not really the way my brain works. You know, I’m extremely bad at appreciating what I’ve earned.I’m the kind of person that really wants something; I want the album to be successful or whatever and then the album comes out and it is successful, but I don’t care by that point. I’m extremely bad at resting on my laurels.
Tame Impala play in Asia during April and then a number of major festivals across North America and Europe between June and August.
Many thanks to the bestest dude for extracting the text using his superior skillz. Tame fans salute you.
So what are your favorites from the 1989 album? Also, which ones do you believe are definitively about Harry?