GEN F: Tame Impala

Photographer Claire Martin
June 27, 2011

About four hours from Perth, Australia and close to nothing is Margaret River. Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker is holed up on a farm there recording a psych-prog epic for his fellow Aussies in Pond. There’s so much equipment jammed into his cabin that he sleeps outside in a tent, and the other night it poured so heavily that his temporary home filled with water. Cellphone service is terrible and the full days in the makeshift studio can be grueling, but Parker couldn’t be more comfortable. “My mattress and pillow and everything is soaked, man,” he says, brushing it off like waking up in a damp sleeping bag isn’t insanely awful.

After recording a series of cosmic megajams alone in his bedroom for an earlier EP, Parker expanded the band and recorded Tame Impala’s debut album InnerSpeaker in a cobbled-together beach estate on the western Australian coast. “It’s this gigantic house but it’s made of all different bits of wood,” Parker says. “Imagine a mansion that’s been pieced together with, like, planks of wood from all over the world. And the scenery…it’s the most amazing scenery I’ve ever woken up to.” This is confirmed by the videos that recently circulated online, mostly featuring Parker and his bandmates looking like the kind of rock stars that don’t exist anymore: outlandish recording locations, cascading hair, ample time to hunch over their instruments effortlessly knocking out moments of serene beauty. Parker’s interest in his public image seems limited, though. “We’re conscious of what goes on around us, but at the same time we treat everything with a pinch of salt,” he says amiably. “We find the whole music world—as awesome as it is—ridiculous.”

Considering Tame Impala recently came off an Australian tour with arty weirdoes MGMT and will rejoin them in the States this fall, Parker and his bandmates obviously have a taste for the absurd. It’s a fitting next step in their bedroom to barnyard to beach house journey toward global psychedelic wizardry, living outlandish lives and making outlandish music. When Parker sings in his honey-coated high register on the seven-minute steamroller, “Runway, Houses, City Clouds,” I know that some things have to change/ It’s true that some things have to change, it feels like he’s calling us all to join him for some bong rips on a banana boat to Atlantis. And in a time when dudes happily record chillwave while chilling in front of computers, Tame Impala’s choice of wide open spaces and weird atmospheres might be just what dreams are made of.

Stream: Tame Impala, InnerSpeaker

GEN F: Tame Impala