TAME IMPALA with THE GROWL at Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay East), Saturday (March 9), 8 pm. $25. LN, RT, SS. See listings.
Tame Impala's Kevin Parker wishes everyone would stop comparing his band to the Beatles. Considering how futuristic and synthesizer-fuelled their recent Lonerism (Modular) album is, the reference point does seem a tad misplaced - at least until Parker starts singing. That's when the similarities between his and John Lennon's voice become inescapable.
"I can hear that myself, but I'm totally unaware of it until I listen back," Parker says at a tour stop in Milwaukee. "It's strange, though, because I don't even really listen to the Beatles. I mean, I like them, but my friends are much bigger fans than I am. I can't even tell you what albums which songs are on."
Parker's also not so keen on music critics' tendency to describe Tame Impala as a kind of throwback psychedelic pop band, a description that doesn't do justice to the many contemporary textures and ideas in his music. However, he didn't fill up Lonerism with squelchy Moog just to prove them wrong.
"I played one in a friend's studio and fell in love with it. It sounded so gnarly and amazing. I realized I'd been missing out on this whole world of synths. I used to think they just meant 80s pop, but they can sound as growling and terrifying as guitars. Maybe even more terrifying."
Recording Lonerism in his home studio also allowed Parker the luxury of experimenting radically with his approach. Though some of the members of his touring band make appearances, Parker played almost everything alone in the studio.
"It's the perfect environment for me to do what I do. It's my own space and my own time. I can spend two months working on one guitar sound or I can do a whole song in one hour."
That kind of freedom has its drawbacks as well. For instance, how do you know when a track is done if you don't have a deadline?
"It's completely impossible. You need someone to force you to finish. I realized I was never going to finish the album otherwise, so we went ahead and booked dates at [producer/engineer] Dave Fridmann's place to mix it down. I knew I had that deadline, and that was the only way I was able to draw things to a close. Otherwise, I would have lost my mind, although I pretty much did anyway."