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Interview: Shona Fenner

Weird and wonderful things happen in Perth, things like the psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock of Tame Impala who play the Black Cat tonight. We got the opportunity to briefly nerd out with the band over gear and the Western Australian music scene……

How would you describe your sound?

Clouds dipped in mud and fruit tingles

How long have you all known each other? How did you meet and start Tame Impala?

We’ve all slowly congregated in the Perth music scene through different bands and projects. We’ve all lived together at some point in a generally musically orientated commune/house. We have a few other bands with some of the same members and other people and more other people, so Tame Impala is just one piece of the puzzle. Tame Impala is kind of just the recording project that I’m the boss of. I’ve had it for many years, with different friends and musicians helping me out. The name changes quite periodically, so Tame Impala is just the current one.

Who would you say are your idols (both musical and otherwise)?

I used to have idols, but since I’ve gotten older I’ve started to just see them as people who are/were really, really, really good at what they do, and since they’re still human they are not immune to the same insecurities and uncertainties that I get about things that I’m trying to do. I guess anyone who has constructed something pretty perfect in my eyes, or had some gnarly and brave ideas, I’m still in awe of them and bewildered as to how they did it. Jimmy Page, Todd Rundgren, André 3000, those kinds of people.

What is some of your favorite gear?

I bought a Sequential Circuits Pro-One synth a while ago that I’m pretty addicted to; you can whip up a cosmic storm pretty quickly. I also have this thing called an Ace-Tone Stereo phasor where you play something into it and it makes a strange stereo effect in the left and right speakers that makes your head feel funny.

Can you briefly describe your music-making process?

It’s very much a recording project, with usually just me and sometimes another person. There’s an idea for a song, usually a 20 or 30-second melody with some chords or something, and I/we just record that as accurately as possible and build the song from there. The layers and sounds and everything piece together gradually, much the same way electronic artists do it. By the time we play it as a live band, the song has usually already been finished and mixed.

What songs are your favorites to play?

It changes frequently, usually it’s the one where I’m trying out some crazy new tone on my guitar, which can end in disaster or harm to audience members. At the moment I’m enjoying playing “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind.” We toured with a French band for a while and they taught me the lyrics in French, so I give that a go sometimes. Pourquoi tu n’te decides pas?

How does the scene in Australia differ from the US?

It’s surprising how similar bands and local music scene set-ups are around the world. Also within the bands: guitarists do their guitarist thing, drummers do their drummer thing. Everyone’s got their thing…

Are there any other projects or bands you want your fans to know about?

We’ve got a few other projects and friends’ bands in Perth. Some are in operation while others are in hibernation. Some of our dedicated fans have already sought out most of these. Check out POND, Mink Mussel Creek, Space Lime Peacock, Wind Waker, Electric Gouche…