Tame Impala: The Other Guys

Tame Impala
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

While accolades are heaped on Kevin Parker, Tame Impala's relaxed drummer remains unaffected by the hype.

Jay Watson is the first to admit that Tame Impala is Kevin's band. Lonerism is not only the name of their second album, but an artistic statement of fact — Kevin creates the music, the artwork and the highly introspective lyrics. "It was like that from the beginning, it was his solo thing when we first joined and we were portrayed as a band," Jay clarifies.

The only difference between the two albums was that "Kevin recorded it on a computer this time instead of on an 8-track. For the first one, we went to a beach house in Western Australia and he did it in a couple of months, whereas this one, he was doing it for a year on his laptop."

Even though he plays down his role, Jay explains there is still a band dynamic. "The amount of influence everyone else in the band has on Kevin isn't really documented. He literally does write and record it all, but a lot of his stuff has been influenced by the guys in our gang. It's a more intertwined story."

One example of this turns out to be the inclusion of lead single 'Elephant' on the album. "I co-wrote that one," says Jay, describing the track as "hell retro."

"It's a really old song from back in the day when we were a '70s guitar band. Kevin always liked it, but was never going to put it on an album. Nick and I thought it was really cool, it had a lot more swag than the more esoteric songs. It’s the only sexy one, so we convinced him to put it on — it’s a good party track, you know?"

With 'Elephant' as the album's calling card, Lonerism has received rapturous acclaim in America and the UK, making their J Award feel like something of an afterthought. Surely it must be a great feeling to achieve so much success and break free of the insular Australian rock scene?

"I guess so…" Jay says carefully. "We're kind of desensitised to it because ever since we started we were as popular in America and England as in Australia. I think we get more radio play in England than in Australia, which is pretty cool. Everyone wants to be appreciated by as many people as possible."

Still, he is dismissive of critical acclaim, including their recent NME win for Album of the Year. "I'm aware of it, but we don't take any notice. If you look through rock and roll history, all of my favourite bands had little to no acclaim. The first four Led Zeppelin albums got two out of five stars in Rolling Stone; Paranoid by Black Sabbath got one. Obviously there are albums that come out and get good reviews and are classics — but there's plenty that got awesome reviews, and you look back in ten years and think, 'that was kind of shitty'.”

Whether or not Tame Impala end up having the same impact as Zeppelin or Sabbath, it's a safe bet they won't be included in the ‘kind of shitty’ category.

Tame Impala Festival Dates

Wed Dec 5 — The Forum (Melbourne)
Thu Dec 6 — The Forum (Melbourne)
Tue Dec 11 — HQ (Adelaide)
Wed Dec 12 — The Tivoli (Brisbane)
Thu Dec 13 — Enmore Theatre (Sydney) *All Ages*
Fri Dec 14 — Enmore Theatre (Sydney)
Sat Dec 15 — Fremantle Arts Centre (Perth)

Tame Impala Tour Dates

Fri Dec 7 — Meredith Music (Victoria)
Sat Dec 8 — Homebake (Sydney)
Mon Dec 31 — Pyramid Rock (Victoria)

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