Going for a walk in a park just across the club Tame Impala will play a sold out show later that evening next to me main man Kevin Parker who is walking quietly and wondering why there are so many people in football gear during a windy day like this. We will later sit down on a park bench next to the Planetarium turning our backs on Vienna’s landmark: the Ferris wheel – and talk about Lonerism and kaleidoscopes. Solitude is bliss.
Most of your tour is sold out – is that something that matters to you or makes you feel proud?
Well the first thing I think about when I hear that is, that it means that there’s gonna be some people that can’t come, which is kind of sad. I mean it’s good for our management, because they like to say that it’s sold out and that they did the right promotion but for me it means that there’s gonna be people who can’t come. But I guess it’s flattering that a lot of people wanna come. That’s what it acquaints to.
What was the smallest crowd you played to?
No one, well most of your first gigs are to like five people, ten people, sometimes thirty people, when you’re really lucky, sometimes no one. I’m sure we’ve played a gig in front of no one before.
Touring probably doesn’t allow to seclude yourself but there’s reference to loneliness in both your albums?
Well, in fact I think emotional loneliness, the feeling of being lonely, happens more when you’re in a group of people. When you’re alone you don’t feel lonely at all because it’s just yourself and your surroundings and when there are other people around that’s when you start feeling lonely. Maybe because you can’t connect with them or maybe because you can’t socialize with them. There being other people around you reminds you of how lonely you are I guess. It’s kind of ironic, it’s kind of a paradox that way.
Was that something that happened consciously?
It’s always just something that happens, with the first album, it was kind of just one. But it was totally different because the first album – the song “solitude is bliss” was about physically being alone. It was about being really happy; it’s a really uplifting song about how great it is to be alone. But with this album it’s really about other people, interactions with other people that cause you to feel lonely. The ‘lonerism’ thing is a result of all the themes in the songs of the new album obviously.
The album artwork which was again created by Leif Podhajsky reflects that in a way as well. Is Leif someone you can associate your music with?
With Leif, well he gets involved on a really kind of graphic design level. I usually have the theme or the idea of something worked out – he helps me achieve that. With this album cover it was just a picture that I took. There’s no kind of special effects or anything. I gave it to him to just improve the colours a bit – to make it a look more like an album cover. With the first album he was involved a lot more, he was doing special effects and geometrical editing.
Are visuals very important for you?
I care a lot about the album cover; I mean the album cover is the most important thing for me. With video clips and stuff, it’s like whatever happens, because I can’t control what happens there.
What made you decide for this picture for your album cover in particular?
I just think it captures this feeling that I want to get across with the whole album the best way: Being alone in a crowd of people. It’s a very simple picture but I think it portrays what Lonerism is about.
What process do you go through when you write your music – do you have a static concept?
It could be anything, it just depends how it all comes together. It really can be anything. Usually I have an idea for a song, I just sort of somehow think of the chords and melody in my head. And then just spend the next two days trying to get the idea out of my head into a song that gives me the same feeling that it does in my head, that represents it. Usually it starts with some chords and a vocal melody and then it depends on what is around me or what I feel inspired next to do. If the drumbeat sort of comes to me, I go for drums and just put that down. It can be any order.
Has your process changed between Innerspeaker and Lonerism?
Well, I’ve always done that thing since I was 14, just doing it really badly back then but with this one I was using a computer to record so there are a lot more possibilities. In the last album it was an 8track. It was like this physical box where you have to do everything, so with that one you have to know what you’re doing before you start. But with computers you can start with anything and throw bits everywhere. That was kind of the biggest change with that one, being able to do things in any order. Just having so many more possibilities.
You also used quite a lot of recorded sounds and stuff like this and I think one of them was recorded in Vienna?
I remember saying that in an interview and I can’t remember what it was. I’m trying to think, what it looked like the last time. I’m sure I did something. I can’t remember what it was, maybe it was just a sound that I dictaphoned or a guitar thing with my laptop or something. But I can’t remember, I really can’t remember what it was. Maybe I was just bullshitting.
Talking about different sounds being put together it seems like a big sound kaleidoscope – is that something you aim for?
A sound kaleidoscope, that sounds like a pretty cool thing. But I just like the idea of combining music with ambient sounds like the cars going fast over there. It just adds an atmosphere to music that it otherwise wouldn’t have. It just gives the music this purpose. It just makes you feel like you are somewhere when you’re listening to it.
What influences would you say are present in your music?
I was really influenced by the art of Serge Gainsbourg, just his persona as an artist, he was really exposing – he loved to expose the fragile parts of himself and talk about things people shouldn’t talk about. That kind of gave me confidence to just sing about what I wanted to sing about and not really feel like it’s gotta be cool or something like that.
Well that’s the thing I don’t really listen to a lot of music – so there aren’t really many artists I get influenced by. Like Supertramp, I listen to a lot and these kind of 70s stadium pop bands, they are a big influence just their vocal melodies and stuff like that.
Are you a person that actively looks for new music as an inspiration?
Well I mean if I hear something I like, then I fall in love with it, it doesn’t matter if it’s new or old. I just don’t really listen to much music. I just don’t really find the time to voluntarily listen to something. I rather just be in silence thinking about new music that I can do. That idea excites me more than listening to something that belongs to someone else.