Tame Impala – Grateful For Your Pity

2010 was a massive year for Tame Impala. Their album Innerspeaker received an ARIA nomination and won them the J award for best release according to Triple J.

2011 is set to be just as big for the band with a inclusion on the Future Music Festival tour, plus tours abroad in America and Europe. Somewhere in between that, Kevin Parker hopes to have a new album recorded and released.

Having just touched down in Melbourne, Kevin spoke to me about the how the new album is going and why he likes being the support band.

Music Feeds: Last year was a massive year for you guys, have you been able to sit back and reflect on it as of yet?

Kevin Parker: I guess so. I mean when really big tours happen, I kind of forget about everything until someone sort of reminds me of something. You know all the places and stuff just kind of erase themselves from my memory because I don’t really keep a diary or anything.

We keep pretty level headed about everything. We’re never really taken away with anything. We take everything with a grain of salt. We usually have a sometimes humorous view on the whole thing (laughs). When something crazy happens we feel like we’re in some kind of movie rather than feel like we’re becoming famous.

MF: How does winning something like the J award mean to Tame Impala then? At the end of the day those kind of accolades must carry some level of importance?

KP: I guess so. it’s obviously very flattering that some people think that our album is the best album out of a bunch. There are so many things I have in my brain that keep me from thinking that ours is the best out of the bunch. I don’t really know what the implications are out of winning that award. It’s important to them. I still always feel though that people feel kind of sorry for us! I can never really get past the idea or embrace the idea that people actually like listening to us. I always kind of feel that they are…..

MF: Kind of taking pity on you?

KP: Well yeah, I guess. it’s obviously extremely flattering when I think about it for a while.

MF: What are the plans for the band this year?

KP: Touring wise we’re doing Future Music festival, then a month later we’re heading to America for a little while. Then a little while after that we’re going to Europe again. In between all of those and during all of those, I’m recording the next album which is going ahead all the time. I just kind of do it whenever I can. I’ve got a studio now which is really helping. I can record whenever I want with all my stuff set up. The most important thing for me is to get more music recorded.

MF: Well I was going to ask if you have been thinking about the next album and obviously you have, hows it coming along so far?

KP: Well I record whatever I feel like at the time. It’s a very liberal process because it’s just me. Jay has been helping out a lot on this album. he’s co written a couple of the songs and has played organ and a few other instruments on this album.

It’s kind of hard to explain. I just let the decisions make themselves for whatever feels right or whatever music I’m listening to at the moment. It’s quite different to the last album. I don’t really know how to explain it, I’ve been listening to it so much I’ve lost all kind of perception.

MF: That’s fair enough. When it actually comes down to writing do you go into your studio with the idea “I’m going to write a song today” or do you go in and start messing around with ideas and build on it that way?

KP: Yeah it’s more the latter than anything else. The fact that I’ve got my own studio now means it’s a very casual process. If I have a flash of inspiration I can just start layering down things. It’s never planned, in fact if I tried to sit down and write a song it would be probably be a terrible song. (laughs) But I can’t seem to do that. A few of my friends who write songs have that ability to want to have an idea and slowly come towards it. While for me I kind of just rely on when it feel rights.

So it usually just starts with me having an idea for a chorus or a particular melody and joining it together with something that comes latter on.

MF: What do you find inspires you when it comes to writing?

KP: I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to put a finger on. Any rush of any kind of thoughts or emotions or feelings usually. If there is any particular strength they will become a song thats good. I find it can come when you;re doing something really mundane or you can write a song when you’re in a kind of particularly emotional time. Each song may not better than the other one, it’s just that you attach more emotion to it. But inspiration……It’s usually when I’m particularly contemplative.

You’ve mentioned before you’re heading back to America and Europe, whats been the biggest difference you have noticed a between fans here and fans from America and again from Europe?

KP: Surprisingly not a lot to be honest. You’ll be surprised how similar people are around the world. Things like music where it’s apart of their life and as a thing they do for recreation, people end up having the same kind of attitude towards around the world. If there are people who are obsessed with your band then they will have the same look on their faces when they ask for a photo. And the same people who hate your band, you get those in every country as well. So it’s surprisingly similar.

The audience when your playing, the Japanese are different to playing in front of an Australian audience. I guess there is subtle difference in the end of the day. I’ve noticed the Germans ask for a lot more autographs than anywhere else! (laughs) But that’s how similar they are, that’s the only difference I’ve noticed.

MF: You guys are going to hit the road as apart of the Future Music festival. What can fans of Tame Impala expect from your Future set?

KP: I don’t know. We haven’t really started rehearsing since our last tour. I guess there will be definitely some changes in the set from the last time they would of seen it. But I have no idea what it’s going to sound like. It’s always different to Tame Impala from other bands because it’s not like a conventional band set up. We have the recording side, which is just one or two people and then the live side which is four people. So when it comes to playing a live set, we just take the recordings and sort of change them. Sometimes to play the recorded songs is impossible because you need more people or different people to play instruments that were on the recording. So we just take the recordings and adapt them. We can make them longer or shorter. We just want to make a good live set you know.

MF: Can we maybe expect some of the new songs to be played?

KP: I don’t think so at this time. We’re probably going to wait until the next album has been released before we start playing new stuff. [That’s] for a few reasons, firstly, a lot of the new album have different pieces of equipment to what we use live at the moment. At the moment we usually have just guitars. The new album has a lot of keys and other weird machines, so it’s going to take a lot more thinking to play those. And also I just like the idea of people hearing the recordings first in all their glory and then seeing our live adaptation of that. Because that is the order we think it should be.

MF: The Future line up is pretty good, who on the bill are you keen to catch up and see?

KP: I’d love to see Mark Ronson. That’s probably the guy I’m looking forward to the most. I really love his last album and I’m quite inspired by his methods of working. And also MGMT. They’re always good and I’d like to see them. I never get tired of seeing them live.

MF: You and MGMT have a pretty good relationship. You’ve supported them on two tours right?

KP: Yeah we toured America with them and Australia. Of course we supported each time. It’s amazing, we’re quite similar people and get on really well. There’s always bands you get on with around the world but we seem to hit it off pretty well.

MF: What do you enjoy more, the short 45 minute festival slots or headlining/supporting gigs?

KP: It all depends. I love to be the support band because there’s no expectation and you can just really get up there and do your thing and if you do your best, great. And if you do a bad set it doesn’t really matter you know! But I also love playing headline shows because we get that full hour or more and can have really weird things in the middle of songs without that time issue. So really each one has it’s perks.

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