Tame Impala’s Rise To International Fame

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Tame Impala is the indie psychedelic musical project founded by Australian multi-instrumentalist, Kevin Parker. He was born on January 20, 1986, in Sydney, Australia, and spent most of his life in Perth. Parker is the writer, recorder, producer, and performer for all of Tame Impala’s studio work. While on tour, he’s accompanied by  Dominic Simper (guitar, synthesizer), Jay Watson (synthesizer, vocals, guitar), Cam Avery (bass guitar, vocals), and Julien Barbagallo (drums, vocals). Parker has collaborated with several musical acts and utilizes many of them for touring such as fellow Australian psychedelic rock band Pond. Tame Impala is currently signed to Interscope Records in the US, and Fiction Records in the UK. As a producer, Parker has collaborated with artists including Mark Ronson, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Travis Scott, Melody’s Echo Chamber, and The Flaming Lips.

At the very young age of 3, Parker’s parents divorced and he ended up living with his mother. Around age 12, he moved to Cottesloe with his father, stepmother, and brother. He grew up surrounded by music as his father consistently played instruments as a hobby and even accompanied him on the guitar. His dad taught him how to play guitar chords to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Supertramp. Parker credits his love of melody to his dad, particularly since he bought Kevin his first guitar. 

Kevin Parker additionally played in a number of other bands at this time, one being the Dee Dee Dums, a rock duo that consisted of Parker (guitar) and Luke Epstein (drums). Tame Impala was originally conceptualized by Parker in Perth in 2007 at Parker’s home. He posted many singles to Myspace of the home-recording project which led to interest from a number of record labels. In July 2008, he signed a worldwide deal with the independent label, Modular Recordings. Since he was a one-man-band at home, he enlisted the help of Dominic Simper (bass) and Jay Watson (drums) and began playing local gigs. 

After the original record deal, it was followed by the release of their self-titled EP in September 2008. It reached number 1 on the Australian Independent Record Labels Chart (AIR), number 10 on ARIA Physical Singles Chart, received airplay on the Triple J radio station, and emerged on Triple J’s Hottest 100 list. As a result, a national headline tour transpired to support their EP release.  They supported bigger acts such as You Am I, The Black Keys, Yeasayer, and MGMT, as well as performances at Southbound Festival, Meredith Music Festival, and Falls Festival. 

Tours in 2009 consisted of a sold-out six-date Australian headline tour, a five-date UK tour, and an appearance at V Festival. That same year, Tame Impala’s first single, “Sundown Syndrome,” was recorded at Toerag Studios in London, UK. The single was first premiered by Richard Kingsmill on his show on Triple J and followed by a headline show at “Rotttofest,” an annual comedy, film, and music festival held off the coast of Western Australia. “Sundown Syndrome” was included on the soundtrack of the Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are All Right. “Half Full Glass of Wine” was used in HBO’s popular television series Entourage as the closing song for an episode. 

After a series of singles and EPs, Tame Impala’s debut studio album, Innerspeaker, was released in 2010. The record was certified gold, and well-received by critics. The following album released by Parker, Lonerism, was also critically acclaimed. It reached platinum status in Australia and received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. In January 2013, Lonerism was selected by Rolling Stone for the 2012 Album of the Year after the band won the same award in 2011 for Innerspeaker. It was also announced as album of the year by UK magazine NME. The band began an international tour in 2012 through 2013, supported by The Growl. During this tour, they played major festivals, such as Coachella, Sasquatch Festival, and appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Tame Impala’s third album, Currents, was released in July 2015, and like Lonerism, it won ARIA Awards for Best Rock Album and Album of the Year. Kevin Parker immersed himself with writing and recording, and in keeping with his notoriety as a songwriter, exerted over the aspects of each song, sequentially causing the release date to be postponed by two months. Contrasting to the psychedelic rock sound of Tame Impala’s prior work, Currents marks a shift to more dance-oriented music, with more importance placed on synthesizers than guitars. He stated in an interview about Currents that inspiration for the sound came from listening to a Fleetwood Mac song. He said that the pureness and cleanness of Fleetwood Mac’s song prompted him to attempt to create a more streamlined musical style within Currents. The album became their best charting release, debuting at number one in Australia, number three in the United Kingdom, and number four in the United States. At the 2015 ARIA Music Awards, Currents was awarded Best Rock Album and Album of the Year, and also received nominations for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.

The fourth and most recent studio album, The Slow Rush, was released on February 14, 2020. The collection features 12 songs recorded in Los Angeles and in Parker’s hometown of Fremantle, Australia. To promote the album, they were the musical guest for Saturday Night Live on March 30, with host Sandra Oh. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2020, the album won five categories, ARIA Award for Album of the Year, Best Group, Best Rock Album, Engineer of the Year, and Producer of the Year. Josh Terry of Vice named Tame Impala his “Artist of the Decade” for the 2010s, stating, “No artist captured how genres cross-pollinated throughout the 2010s better than Tame Impala.” The album also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album, whilst “Lost In Yesterday” was nominated for Best Rock Song.

Tame Impala proves to be Kevin Parker’s greatest accomplishment with several Grammy nominations, ARIA awards, and numerous opportunities to headline prestigious music festivals such as Coachella and Desert Daze. Kevin Parker earns most of his wealth from being part of the band Tame Impala and has stated he’s motivated by the music, not the money. He makes most of his money from sponsors, selling t-shirts, selling albums and songs, and selling tickets to their concerts. Additionally, Tame Impala has a YouTube channel with over 1 million subscribers. The channel has more than 619 million views, suggesting it generates $1.5 million in revenue. Kevin Parker is estimated to be worth $2 million and Tame Impala is estimated to be worth $5-10 million. His recent live performances earn more than $500,000 each inferring that Tame Impala’s net worth will only continue to grow as touring resumes in 2021. Tame Impala headlines for significant international festivals, Parker produces for various well-known musicians, and their music has been featured in numerous films and television shows. Kevin Parker has come a long way since writing songs at his family home in Australia. 

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