MAIN MAN KEVIN PARKER TALKS WEED, MARK RONSON AND WHY NEW ALBUM, CURRENTS, TASTES JUST LIKE A FRESH TOM COLLINS.
“Good question,” says the 29-year-old, as talk turns to where on earth he is right now. “We’re driving to Sasquatch! Festival in north-west America, but stopped for the night in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. That’s all I can tell you.” His confusion is understandable. After all, five years ago, Parker was sitting on his couch in sleepy Perth, jamming away with mates. Then came 2010 debut Innerspeaker, hits like ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’, and a first tour supporting MGMT and The Black Keys. Awards, accolades and celebrity fans soon arrived – Paul Mccartney, Blur’s Brian Coxon and Mark Ronson (with whom he worked on Uptown Special) the best of the bunch. With Tame Impala’s third album, Currents, out now, the whirlwind doesn’t look like slowing. We caught up to find out how it’s all going.
GQ: WHEN DID YOU FINISH WORKING ON THE ALBUM?
KEVIN PARKER: In March. I was trying to get it done because you have to wait like four months before you can release it. I just wanted to get it out there.
GQ: FAVOURITE TRACK?
KP: Oh man, I couldn’t say. It’s like asking someone to name their favourite sibling – if you pick one, you’d be excluding the others.
GQ: FAIR ENOUGH. WHAT’S YOUR SONG WRITING PROCESS?
KP: Pretty spontaneous. The initial ideas are the most important parts of the song, and they’re the things you can’t predict – they just come to you.
GQ: DOES THAT INVOLVE AS MUCH WEED AS WE’D EXPECT?
KP: I smoke a bit when I’m recording. If I’m fleshing out a song, smoking weed can make it more potent – like turning up the volume of the ideas in your head. But you’re just as likely to turn up a bad idea, as a good one, so I don’t smoke it if I want to think rationally. There’s also a lot of drinking.
GQ: WHAT’S YOUR POISON?
KP: This album, it was a Tom Collins – so much so, that if I have one now, I feel like I’m back in the studio; I listen to one of my songs and can taste gin and lemon in my mouth.
GQ: YUM. HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK WITH MARK RONSON?
KP: I was a big fan, and turns out he was a big fan of mine, which is pretty astonishing. We met at a festival and became friends. We were in London, drunk, and talked about doing a funk album together – that didn’t happen, but I sent him the idea for ‘Daffodils’ [on Uptown Special] and he asked me to sing a couple of other songs on the album.
GQ: WHAT’S HE LIKE TO WORK WITH?
KP: I’ve never worked with someone so open to people’s ideas – he’s the master of bringing talented types together. If anyone else was heading the operation, it’d be too many chefs spoiling the broth, but he makes it work.
GQ: WHILE WE’RE DROPPING NAMES, SEAN LENNON SAID YOU SOUND LIKE HIS DAD. HIGH PRAISE?
KP: He’s a funny guy. I wouldn’t want to give it more weight than it deserves – he was probably half drunk and it was just a passing comment.
GQ: WAS THE SUCCESS OF INNERSPEAKER A SURPRISE?
KP: You bet. The first time we went overseas, at our London show, there was a line around the block and Noel Fielding was there. We’d spent the previous year sitting on the couch stoned watching The Mighty Boosh, and suddenly he was at our gig.
GQ: WHAT DID YOU SPEND YOUR FIRST BIG PAY CHEQUE ON?
KP: Put it this way, I never really got a big pay cheque – I’ve only just started getting money. But I guess it’d be a car – I recently bought an old BMW. Currents is out now