Psychedelic rock band Tame Impala have just finished touring America with MGMT. Emma Hope spoke to Kevin Parker (lead guitar and vocals) about the tour, their debut album and whether solitude really is bliss.
How was the US? Did you get a good reception?
I think we have been completely spoilt. MGMT fans are generally enthusiastic about music so they're really nice to us while we're playing. A lot of our own headline shows have sold out too which is bizarre.
Any funny stories from being on tour with MGMT? Do you get along well with them?
I think we are similar kinds of people… music tastes…humour … habits etc…. So everything works well. We let off some fire works on the roof of the venue one night and almost killed ourselves and a bunch of MGMT fans waiting on the street below. They loved it though I'm sure.
Have you toured Europe much before? You’re playing Reading and Leeds festivals, you must be excited about reaching such a big audience just before the album is released to them?
I don't know much about Reading and Leeds other than the millions of times I've heard the names. I've come to find that it's best not to have any expectation of an upcoming tour whatsoever. Tours, shows, and festivals can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you or the most boring chore of you life and there's NO way of telling before hand.
Zane Lowe (BBC Radio 1/MTV) is a big fan of your music, and you’ve been getting a fair bit of radio airplay over here. Would you rather people were introduced to your music in the recorded form or at a live show?
Recorded form. It's the only thing that's really definite. At a live show there are so many variables; the sound is so vulnerable. I know there's the in-person thing and the lights and the volume but the sound is all I really care about, and I'd prefer someone to stick the cd in their car when they're driving down the highway.
The album has a very summery vibe. Did you record it during the warmer months?
Not really, it was the middle of winter, which still has some sunny days, but there was no skipping down to the beach between takes. Which was agonising because it looked so good from the studio. Initially I was quite concerned about which season the album came out in. I wanted it to come out in summer in Australia, which didn't work out, but it's OK because that means its summer in the Northern Hemisphere, so I stopped complaining to the label.
How was it working with Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips, MGMT)? Was he a big influence on the album’s psychedelic sound, or was that already a big factor before he began mixing?
Well, usually there's a big difference between something that sounds completely washed out and reverb soaked and cosmic, and something that sounds punchy and clear. It just so happens that Dave is one of the only guys that can give you the best of both worlds. He gives the artist what they want, and you'd be surprised how rare that is.
The album title, Inner Speaker, and the first single ‘Solitude is Bliss’ both suggest a theme of internalising. Is that intentional?
It wasn't really intentional, but I don't think it was an accident either. I think that frame of mind is where music is the most satisfying to me. The whole closed-off thing. To me the idea of an amazing piece of music gives me the same feeling as the blissfully detached dreamer.
Is that how the songs were conceived? By one person, presumably you Kevin, internally rather than as a collaborative process with the band?
Yeah kind of, I always have the other guys to help out, but with this album it was very much a case of preserving the original idea of guitars and drums etc, as an imaginary ensemble, even if it's only a few bars long and the rest of the song is built around it. With the next album it's going to be a lot more open and free flowing.
Tame Impala’s debut album Innerspeaker is released on August 16th. The single ‘Lucidity’ is out on August 30th. For more information visit: link