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EIGHT MILES HIGH IN THE LAND DOWN UNDER

CV_102_TAMEIMPALA_150

In the last year Tame Impala auteur Kevin Parker has gone from trippy bedroom Lonerist to beloved global psych savant. MAGNET journeys to the Land of Oz to press an ear up to his inner speaker.

BY
JONATHAN VALANIA

Kevin Parker, the one-man-band psych-rock wunderkind who records under the name Tame Impala, lives across the street from a professional magician (and sword swallower) in a quaint cul-de-sac of houses ringed with lemon trees in Freemantle, a charming seaside town of 25,000 in Western Australia. He shares a granny flat with Melody Prochet, his beautiful and cool French girlfriend, who is the singer/songwriter behind Melody’s Echo Chamber, which is also cool and beautiful and French.

His possessions are few: a navy blue hooded peacoat with toggle buttons, a drum kit and a collection of vintage oscilloscopes. His favorite band is Supertramp. He knows this bothers a lot of people. He doesn’t care. “I think he lives on another planet sometimes,” Prochet said on a recent Tuesday, sitting on the porch in the slim shade of a lemon tree.

“I really think that 97% of the time he’s thinking about music and sound and creating new kinds of sounds and new kinds of ways of making music. He’s completely obsessed with it. He’s dedicating his whole life to that.”

He’s been all over the world many times, and lived for a time in Paris, but he’s decided to come back home, for a while at least. The city’s molasses pace and lilliputian scale suits him.  Staying here is the path of least resistance and the 27-year-old Parker is, by his own admission, a lazy man.tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copy

Despite its brief history as a British penal colony in the early part of the 19th century, Freemantle is better-known in certain circles as the town where Bon Scott grew up. Until he choked to death on his own vomit in 1980 after an epic night of binge drinking, Bon Scott was the original singer of ACDC, which, in the ensuing 33 years has set the standard for rock n’ roll badassery. There is an appropriately cheesy statue erected in his honor in Esplanade Park, Freemantle’s de facto main square, that portrays the legendarily leather-lunged singer standing atop an guitar amplifier, screaming into a microphone, decked out in his trademark sleeveless denim jacket.

Parker is re-setting the aesthetic standards of what constitutes a statue-worthy local boy who grew up to become a famous musician. Sonically speaking, Tame Impala is as far away from ACDC as Australia is from Philadelphia. Plus, Parker is tall enough that they won’t have to perch him on a speaker when they make his statue. All he has to do is die.

Freemantle, like Australia itself, is far away from just about everything. It was a 35-hour Homeric odyssey, spanning 11,000 miles, three oceans and 12 time zones to get here from Philadelphia. Everything about Australia seems the exact opposite of pretty much everywhere else. For starters, it’s a summery 70 degrees right now, even though it’s the dead of winter here. Everyone is very nice and without exception white — barring the aborigines, who are invisible, and like Native Americans have been herded into remote and desolate reservations and have been almost completely decimated by alcoholism. There are no discernible signs of poverty, no homeless, no ghettos. Nick Cave songs are found in tourism ads instead of hipster iPods. News of the demise of the newspaper industry has not yet arrived on these shores. The Rupert Murdoch-owned The Australian, which is sort of the right-tilting USA Today of the land down under, was a whopping 133 pages on a recent Wednesday. The Progessive Insurance ad gal is named Kitty instead of Flo and speaks with an Aussie accent but she has the same trademark beehive hairdo and white uniform. Contrary to the TV ads in the states, Fosters is not “Australian for beer, mate.” In Australia, like pretty much everywhere else, they just call it ‘beer.’

The only real downside I can see is that it’s really, really fucking expensive. At the Norfolk Hotel in Freemantle, where Kevin Parker asked me to meet him tonight, a pint of cheap domestic beer will set you back a princely $12, a pack of cigarettes costs $18 (and is emblazoned with horrendous pictures of mouth cancer and shriveled fetuses). A personal pizza, the cheapest thing on the menu, is $24.

Parker apologizes for inflationary cost of living in his hometown. He blames it on the thriving mining industry — coal, gold, diamonds, iron, copper and uranium that’s sent to places like China, Iran and Iraq via an endless parade of massive freighters on the horizon. “It’s a rich place, [Freemantle] is a really expensive city and that’s why a lot of young people leave,” he says. “Especially for bummy musos, it’s strangling. I kind of just grit though it because I’m really lazy. It’s the mining. There’s so much money in the mining industry. I did it for a while. It was part of my university degree. People make $100,000 a year just for holding a stop sign.”

Not that he’s been here much as of late. Thanks to the constant touring Tame Impala has done in the wake of the still-swelling success of Lonerism, released 11 months ago, this is only the second full week he’s been home in 2013. Next month Parker and his live band — guitarist Dominic Simper, keyboardist Jay Watson, bassist Cam Avery and drummer Julien Barbagallo — will return to the US, for the 10th time this year,  to co-headline an East Coast tour with the Flaming Lips. It should be noted here that the first album Parker ever bought with his own money was the soundtrack to 1995’s Batman Returns, which features The Flaming Lips. Parker was eleven years old.tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copy

Not that the Lips made much of an impact at the time. It wasn’t until five years ago, when Parker saw the Lips perform — in all their mirror ball/confetti/bubble walking psychotropic brain-melting glory — in Japan, on acid, that Parker became a disciple of the Okie space cadets. “I wasn’t really much of a fan,” says Parker. “But then they all come on stage through a giant, pulsating vagina. Then Wayne comes out in his big, inflatable bubble. I was like, ‘What the fuck!’  Then they burst into “Race For The Prize” and it was the most amazing life music experience of my life. Half way through the set I was like, ‘This is insane!’ During “Do You Realize” I turned around and saw 60,000 Japanese people crying. I was like, ‘This is too much!’” The next time he saw them play, he was onstage with them, dressed up like a gecko and dancing merrily along with all the others in gecko and Santa Claus costumes.

It takes a lot for new bands to get on Parker’s radar these days, he rarely listens to other people’s music. Though he describes himself as a huge My Bloody Valentine fan, and even saw the re-activated band perform twice in recent months, he has yet to listen to their new album. Likewise he hasn’t heard more than the first 10 seconds of the Kanye West/Tame Impala mash-up (“Black Skinhead”/”Elephant”) that surfaced back in July. “This sounds very selfish and egotistical, but I’m thinking about music so much that to actually put on someone else’s music would mean that I’m out of ideas, it would mean I don’t have anything to think about,” he says. “I always have something to think about, so it’s kind of just background noise. If we’re driving somewhere and no one’s put on the radio, I’ll probably think of a melody just in that car trip. I’ll be building it up and trying to think of a bass line to go with it. If someone puts on the radio I’ll lose it and it’ll be gone forever. It happens almost every day.”

For as long as he can remember, he’s made up a new song every day. “I try to make rough demo as quick as I can,” he says. “If it’s strong enough I’ll remember it anyway. If I forget it, I figure it was probably pretty forgettable. I have a Dictaphone with like 200 ideas on it. The problem is that when I think of them they’re so vivid in my mind; I’ve been doing it for so many years that I’m good at imagining what a song would sound like. I can almost hear it. If I try to pick up a guitar and write a song, it’s going to be terrible because my hands are doing the thinking. My hands are doing the writing and my hands aren’t as good as my brain. It’s not as original because it’s just muscles [doing the creating].”

The constant touring has taken it’s toll on Parker’s songwriting, or the lack of it, in the past year. There are currently zero songs in the can for a new album. When Innerspeaker came out in 2010, he was already writing and recording songs for the next album. He’s not even sure he wants to make another album.

The ideas still come every day, but he has limited access to recording gear or the time and space it takes him to gestate new material. “I’m very rarely around a drum kit and very rarely around the instruments that I need,” he says. “I just have my laptop or my dictaphone, so the best thing I could do on tour is tap out the melody on the keyboard of my laptop, which is even worse because then it turns into this tacky laptop/keyboard melody.”

He doesn’t want to burden his bandmates on the road with the painstaking task of working out new songs during soundcheck. Besides, there’s only three people that write Tame Impala songs beginning to end: Me, myself and I. “I love the idea of tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copycollaborating, it’s a beautiful thing making music together, but it doesn’t work as well as making music on your own, with 100% creative freedom,” he says. “I guess it’s just because I grew up that way. If I was a lot more open about my creativity when I was younger I probably would have learned to communicate my ideas to other people and maybe would have started thinking my ideas are strong enough for people to care about sooner. That came very late in my life. It was only a couple years ago. Until then, I thought that it wasn’t worth anyone else’s time.”

The world would beg to differ.

***

The next day Parker picks me up at my hotel in a borrowed car. His own car, a 1987 Holden Astra was towed and cubed while Parker was away on tour. Probably all for the best. You had to hold the passenger side door shut when you went around curves or it would fly open and expel occupants and other contents. Parker is taking me on tour of places around Freemantle that figure prominently in the Parker/Tame Impala narrative.

He pops Liquid Swords, the iconic 1995 solo album from Wu Tang Clansman GZ,  in the CD player — triggering the death of God knows how many new Tame Impala songs that might have been born on this day — turns up the volume and we’re off.
My brother was a massive Wu Tang fan,” he says.  “I used to always hear it rumbling from his bedroom. I would listen to anything my brothers listened to.” I tell him that Tame Impala is kind of the psych-rock Wu Tang Clan. Cam Avery has The Growl, his howling Waits-ian blues thing. Watson is in Pond, who just released their fifth album,  Hobo Rocket, which kind of sounds like early Pink Floyd on biker meth. Both Avery and Parker play drums for Pond in the studio. And Parker constantly invents new bands that play one-off shows for special occasions, like Kevin Spacey, a disco funk band he put together with Avery for a recent benefit for a longtime Perth scenester who had her car stolen. Or Relation Longue Distance, with drummer Julien Barbagallo, which debuted at Silencio, David Lynch’s club in Paris. Or Space Lime Peacock, his now- defunct psychedelic funk band that lasted one gig and one recording session.

Our first stop is Mojo’s a lovably dingy, sticky-floored live-music-venue-cum-watering-hole bedecked with eye-popping psychedelic murals and the sickly scent of spilled beer fermenting into something harder in the midday heat. It was here that Parker would rock out with Mink Mussel Creek, a shambling, perpetually under-rehearsed space-rock collective of drinking/drug buddies, and Dee Dee Dum, a blues-psych trio heavily influenced by Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and other stateside stoner-rockers from the deserts of the American west that proved so influential to Parker and his pals at the time.

“I couldn’t tell you how many gigs we’ve done here,” says Parker as we trundle through the club. “Usually someone had a car and we’d fill it up to the top with all our gear in there and then squeeze in wherever we could find a few inches. We’d usually get a six back of Melbourne Bitter for the ride and we’d just get as pissed as we could and play a gig. That’s the thing, back in the day when we’d play gigs, it was more about us. It was more like an outing for us. We weren’t the kind of guys who went out to clubs, so playing a gig was a night out for us. The fact that we were playing a gig was like a side feature. This was more with Mink Mussel Creek which was by far the loosest of our bands because we didn’t even know who was going to be playing that night. It used to be called the Electric Blue Acid Dogs before I joined. They then changed the name because they played this community thing and they couldn’t have acid’ in the name. So anyway, we’d play a gig and get drunk and then smoke spliffs out the front. And then we’d go skinny dipping [in the ocean].”

Next stop: The ocean. As we tool along the coast, the sun glittering like diamonds on the infinite expanse of the Indian Ocean, Parker ejects Liquid Swords and pops in the first Queens of the Stone Age album. Talk turns to the stoner-rock scene of the early 90s and it’s purported impact on Parker and his musician pals.

KEVIN PARKER: It was a phase. To be honest, I was never super into Kyuss. I remember I was playing this stoner blues riff music and someone said, ‘Hey, by the sound of your music, you’d like Kyuss.’ Someone said I must like Kyuss, and I was like, no, and he was like, ‘oh well you sound like them.’ But I was into Queens of the Stone Age. They were, by far, a bigger influence on me. I actually met Josh Homme for the first time the other day.

MAGNET: Where at?

KEVIN PARKER: At a festival in Europe. They were headlining. Belgium? No. I couldn’t tell you where we were. Actually, I didn’t realize how surreal it was when I met Josh Homme the other day.

MAGNET: How did it go?tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copy

KEVIN PARKER: Good.

MAGNET: Was he aware of Tame Impala?

KEVIN PARKER: I don’t know. I think so. He didn’t tell me that he liked them. He’s one of those guys where they’ve become so iconic in the alternative world that they’re in character all the time. It was slightly disappointing, but at the same time it was cool for me because I got to experience it. He always makes sure that people get the Josh Homme Experience.

MAGNET: Which is what?

KEVIN PARKER: Which is extremely witty and funny. He’s a super funny guy, but he doesn’t listen. It’s the same kind of thing as Wayne Coyne. When you’re in their presence, it’s about them.

MAGNET: Yeah, Wayne has the gift of gab.

KEVIN PARKER: Yeah. Whether there’s a camera on or not. Josh Homme was like that. They like to feed the machine, and I guess it helps to not become a boring artist. Whenever I get close to weaving a story I just say, ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ and pull back.

We pull up to Cottesloe Beach. Parker grew up nearby and he’s been swimming there ever since. We park and head down to the beach. At the edge of the sand, there’s large bronze-and-stone memorial to one KENNETH JAMES CREW who was killed by a shark here in 2000.

KEVIN PARKER: Yeah, a lot of people were taken by sharks. Last summer I think three people were taken.

MAGNET: What do you mean ‘taken’?

KEVIN PARKER: Eaten. There are some horror stories. Someone just got munched diagonally across their body. My brother went out with the daughter of a guy who got eaten. This beach I literally grew up on. People still swim there, but they’re paranoid. It’s my favorite beach in the world.

MAGNET: Do the sharks actually eat people or just bite them?

KEVIN PARKER: Ken Crew got his leg bitten off and then he bled to death on the beach. Some people, all they found are their swimsuit. Some people have never been seen again. There were like three last summer. I still going swimming but I don’t go out as far as I used to. My whole philosophy is if you’re going to get eaten, you’re going to get eaten. It’s difficult to keep your imagination at bay when you dive under the water. My mind just creates a picture of a massive fucking shark. They had helicopters coming over every five minutes to spot them. Sometimes you hear a siren and everyone gets out. It only happened once when I was down here. Everyone fucking barrels out.”

****

Kevin Parker was borne of a transcontinental pedigree some 27 years ago. His father, who passed away five years ago from skin cancer, was born in Zimbabwe. His mother is from South Africa. He was conceived in Bahrain, but born in Australia where his parents had emigrated in the pursuit of better economic prospects.

KEVIN PARKER: I have a brother. My whole family is a bit complicated because there are lots of divorces and I have a lot of half brothers and half sisters and pretend brothers and sisters. I have one full blood brother and I have a half brother, a half sister, a pretend sister…

MAGNET: What’s a pretend sister?

KEVIN PARKER: Well my dad went away to war and his wife cheated on him while he was gone and she had a baby but he thought it was his kid and when she was 11 they found out it wasn’t my dad’s kid, but they kept on pretending it was.

MAGNET: What war are you talking about?

KEVIN PARKER: It was some guerilla war in Africa.

MAGNET: Who did he fight for?

KEVIN PARKER: I think he fought for the government.tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copy

His parents split when he was three or four years old and for most of his childhood he lived with his father, who studied accounting and went on to have a lucrative career as the chief financial officer of various mining companies. We’re back in the car and heading towards the house where Parker grew up.  “We’re in a pretty rich area, truth be told,” says Parker, as we tool past a long string of sleek and stylish multi-million dollar ocean front homes. “My dad had a load of money, well, more money than my mom. He liked to live according to how much money he had. That’s it right there, the purple one.” Parker points to a plum-tinted one-floor ranch-style house with a terra-cotta roof. This trip back in time triggers some painful long buried memories. Like the time his parents got back together when he was 15.

KEVIN PARKER: There was this weird thing that happened with my mom and my dad when I was about 15. They decided to get back together after about 12 years of being divorced and remarried. They barely spoke in 12 years. So one day my mom just asked my dad if he wanted to get back together and he said ‘yes,’ so they ditched their respective husbands and wives and got back together as a family. It was a super intense time for me.

MAGNET: Wouldn’t having your divorced parents re-uniting be like a dream come true for most kids?

KEVIN PARKER: I couldn’t get into it. I never knew what it was like for them to be together. They split up when I was about three or four. I’d never known them to be two humans that even talked to each other. It was so weird for me and my brother to call them ‘mom and dad.’ We never said ‘mom and dad’ in our lives because it’s usually mom and Tony or dad and Ronda. So they got back together and it lasted about a month and it fell to shit. Then they hated each other even more than they ever did.

MAGNET: What about their remarries? Did they take them back?

KEVIN PARKER: They did. I think we had said some things to [my stepmother]  and our relationship had gone to shit as well. So me and my brother went to live with my mom but she really couldn’t afford to have us. So we ended up living in this shed by mom’s house. My sister was living in mom’s house and there was no room for us so we had to live in the shed. I couldn’t even go inside…. um, I’m not going to talk about that. It was the worst year of my life.

We pull up on a wooded hill overlooking the sprawling campus of middle/high school that Parker attended.  “There’s actually a mental institution right across the road,” says Parker, pointing off in the distance at a warren of grim-looking buildings, some are walled off and have bars on the windows. “It’s called Gray Lands. My stepbrother went there, actually. He’s paranoid schizophrenic from weed and acid and crystal meth. Actually, my stepmother blames the drugs, but I think it would have happened anyway. He started acting more and more peculiar and slipping into these super violent rages. His mom was the one person he took all his anger out on. He started kicking down doors and going mental and then it became apparent that he was falling down a mental chasm. My brother was locked up in the Smith Ward, which is apparently the worst. It was really sad, the transition between him being a fun loving, rebellious, pot-smoking teenager to a mental institute. I saw the whole thing.”

Next stop: Troy Terrace, the boho flophouse where Parker lived commune-style with a revolving cast of musicians, artists and assorted ne’re do wells — many of them members of Mink Mussel Creek which was, by this point, morphing into Pond. Supporting himself by manning the cash register at a nearby liquor store, Parker lived here because his father told him he couldn’t live at home if he wasn’t going to college. The reason he stopped going to college — where he majored in astronomy, still a passion of his — is that he got a phone call one day while he walking across campus to take a test he was woefully unprepared for. The phone call was from Modular Records, which is sort of the Sub Pop/Matador/Merge of Australia, asking if he’d like to record an album for them. Yes, of course, he said. Electing to blow off the test, he turned on his heels and walked home. Kevin Parker was officially a college drop out.

It was amidst the dope-fueled creativity and chaos at Troy Terrace that that he wrote all the songs for Innerspeaker. They grew pot plants in the back garden and would jam on the roof Beatles-style, which is somewhat hard to believe given that the house is smack dab in the middle of a row of respectable-looking houses peopled with respectable-looking people who it’s hard to believe cottoned to marijuana patches and stoned longhairs kicking out the jams, and maybe a few shingles as well, on their ceiling. And yet they did.tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copy

“In those days we were so absorbed in what we were doing,” he says. “The idea of the world going on around us was just this foreign and irrelevant cycle of life. We’d be up until dawn, and get up whenever or just stay awake forever and grow weed plants and make music. There’s this 24-hour shop that sold all sorts of munchies food, so we’d get super blazed and it’d be an absolute fucking journey, when in reality it was 200 meters away. We’d see people walking by in suit and ties and we’d be like ‘Oh, it must be a week day.’”

Modular wanted to fly him to America hook him up with a name producer. Parker wanted to record the album by himself in his bedroom. A number of high profile names were floated: Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio, Chris Goss, the Steve Albini of stoner-rock, Dave Sardy (Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Oasis). “I just didn’t want to do that,” says Parker. “These guys are all such big names that their rep would overshadow the album, which just seemed wrong.”

A compromise was struck: Parker would hire Dave Holmes from Death In Vegas to engineer and record at Wave House, a mansion-cum-recording studio overlooking the ocean four hours south of Perth, and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Mercury Rev) would mix it. “Recording that album was hilarious,” says Parker. “Tim, the engineer, he was setting up pre-amps the first day and I think the rest of the time he was there he just went fishing and read books and drank cups of tea and smoked cigarettes. The work ethic was abysmal. I’d usually record, get up in the morning, listen to what I did the night before, and I think by mid-day I’d start recording something. The weather was good and the scenery was unbelievable. There were whales coming up and spouting. I’d start recording something, I’d record like 30 seconds of a song but I’d do every instrument for 30 seconds and I’d put it on loops and we’d think it was so amazing and we’d think it was so amazing because the scenery was so amazing. Anything I played was like heaven because the sun was beating down on what looked like the entire Indian Ocean. So we’d just sit out on the balcony and listen to the loop for the entire afternoon. Then at about 9:00 pm we’d be like, ‘Shit we haven’t done anything!’ so we’d have to seriously record the song.”

Three months later, a pretty damn great debut album emerged from this seaside den of slack. Parker decided to call it Innerspeaker. “It was a way of me trying to explain in one word how or why I do music,” says Parker.  “Everyone thought we were this psych rock jam band. They had heard the EP and they thought it was a whole band collaborative thing. It was like, Tame Impala: 3-piece psych rock trio. I realized everyone got it wrong because these recordings that I had done by myself were being mistaken for band jam sessions. Then [critics] would get confused. They’d be like, Wait a minute, so you played everything on the EP?’ I remember them being sort of shocked that I was hogging this process. It just made me feel like a bit of a hog. They don’t really understand the way we do it, or the way I do it, more importantly. It got me questioning myself like, why am I doing this by myself? The word ‘innerspeaker’ means sound coming from within. I just thought it was fitting. For me, that’s what a lot of the music is. It’s just me expelling sound from myself.”

Turns out people like hearing him expel: The reviews were glowing, sales were strong like bull and much globe-trotting joy to the world ensued. The psych-rock torch had been officially passed to a new generation.

****

It was during breaks from touring Innerspeaker that Lonerism was being written and recorded. Note to anybody who has never been on tour: In the battle of Man vs Touring, the latter always wins. Always. Sooner or later it will destroy you. It’s why musicians become hopeless junkies or terminal alcoholics or both, why marriages crumble into dust, children become strangers and great bands die like dogs every day. Going on tour as a respite from a grueling recording project is like running the Boston Marathon to rest up from the New York Marathon. Not surprisingly, it damn near killed Parker.

MAGNET: How long did that take, beginning to end, to record Lonerism?tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copy

KEVIN PARKER: About two years. It was intense. It was really intense. I’m never going to do something that intensive again.

MAGNET: Why was it so intense?

KEVIN PARKER: I was obsessed.  I’d wake up between mid-day and 2 pm and walk into my studio and eat something at some time in the evening. Then I’d start drinking wine somewhere around 6 pm and keep going until 4 am and that was about every day.

MAGNET: Two years straight or was there touring or breaks?

KEVIN PARKER: Going on tour was a break. On tour I’d have my laptop so I’d be in the process. I wasn’t very social in those two years. I’ve never been so focused and so obsessed in my life by anything.

MAGNET: Why do you say you’d never do that again?

KEVIN PARKER: Right at the end it started to take its toll. I got this really bad insomnia and I couldn’t sleep until the next day. I’d go to bed at 5 am and just lie there until 10 am and get up and take a shower. I guess I didn’t need to sleep. Then I’d fall asleep at 11 am and wake up in the evening and start recording. My health was weird. I kept getting vertigo and thinking I was going to fall over when I stood up.

MAGNET: What was that all about?

KEVIN PARKER: I don’t know. I was still vegetarian. I started eating meat during that.

MAGNET: When did you first become a vegetarian?

KEVIN PARKER: Around the time my dad died. I think it was my way of coping. I had these weird questions of death and what it means to die so my way of proving to myself that I knew what death was, was to not be a part of the death industry.

MAGNET: So you started eating meat again. What spurred that? You thought the vertigo was part of that?

KEVIN PARKER: I thought I was going to die. I just thought something is wrong with me. I actually thought it was linked to how much I was working on the album. So I thought I had to do something because I was going crazy, so I started getting the fish sushi instead of the vegetarian sushi at the sushi restaurant, and that’s what started it.

MAGNET: And eventually you went back to full meat?

KEVIN PARKER: Yeah, eventually. It felt so weird to do it. It was around the time my dad died and I started taking acid. I had this weird questioning about eating meat – that I care so much about a family member dying but not the life of another creature. It took me a long time to get over that. The first time I bit into another animal it took me a while to get over, but I convinced myself it wasn’t wrong.

MAGNET: Because?

KEVIN PARKER: I don’t know. Because it’s just what people do. It’s what happens. I’ve never been a big advocate of animal rights or that health conscious, but for some reason I couldn’t bear the idea of sinking my teeth into an animal. I’ve stopped being so caring.

MAGNET: Lonerism, you coined that term?

KEVIN PARKER: I guess so. I guess for me, now that I think about it and analyze it, because I didn’t analyze it back then. It was just kind of a word that made sense. It’s a feeling basically. It’s a feeling that is can be an instantaneous thing but also something that stays with you your whole life – that you’re in some way separate from the whole world. The world is going on and you’re operating on your own.

MAGNET: Does this go back to the LSD experience and your father dying?

KEVIN PARKER: I think it’s separate. It’s just you and the rest of the world and they seem to be two separate entities.

MAGNET: And that’s everyone’s experience or just yours?tameimpala_magnet102_spreads copy

KEVIN PARKER: I guess other people must experience it and that’s why the album connects with people. At that stage I didn’t know if people were going to know exactly what I meant and I just had to go with it. That word just seemed to wrap everything up. The whole album, it seems like it’s someone singing about how much they love being a loner, but it’s really opposite, it’s about someone trying to be a part of the world and realizing that the world just keeps spitting them back out.

As the giant orange sun dips below horizon we call it a day. I fly home in the morning and Kevin has to work on the new Melody’s Echo Chamber album tonight because Prochet flies back to Paris tomorrow. Plus he has to come up with a song for the closing credits of Ender’s Game, this fall’s big sci-fi blockbuster starring Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley, based on the 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card, who’s stirred up a lot of controversy in recent weeks for his toxic remarks about homosexuals and comparing Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler. The studio wanted to hear something by yesterday, but so far he’s come up dry.

Somewhere over the South Pacific, some fifteen hours into my epic 35-hour oddyssey home, I email him to find out if he ever came up with a song for the movie. Three days later he writes back from Hong Kong International, on a layover from his 30 hour flight to Oslo. Turns out the track never materialized, lost in translation and the fog of jet lag and self-sabotage. Of lonerism. “I gave that Ender’s Game song a red hot crack but i just couldn’t bring myself to finish it,” he writes. “I ended up using this demo I started in Japan the other morning but as soon as I started thinking about it as a ‘job’ it sounded so naff. Anyway I’ll see if i can grit my teeth and send it in. Not sure if it’s their cup of tea anyway.”

TAME IMPALA + VELVET NEGRONI @ THE MANN CENTER FRI. AUG. 23RD

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