Tame Impala's wild ride

Tame Impala's Kevin Parker in his Fremantle Studio. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian.

"What the f… is the third knob for?" Kevin Parker asks, laughing about the vagaries of showers in five-star hotel rooms.

The Tame Impala mastermind is chilling at his Fremantle abode where the bathroom holds no mysteries and the beach is never too far. Parker is cooling heels still smoking from a 2013 for which the word busy doesn't suffice.

How would he describe it? "For me to answer that question would require me to remember what I've done in 2013," he says. Luckily, we've watched with wide-eyed wonder as a bunch of scruffy magicians from this remote burg took over the world with their sparkling take on psychedelic rock - a genre thought to be consigned to the gatefolds of hell.

So, in the spirit of their APRA Song of the Year winning hit, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, let's jog Parker's memory one month at a time - in reverse.

Earlier this month, Parker collected four trophies on behalf of Tame Impala at the WAM Awards, finding himself surprisingly nervous in front of the home town crowd. "I'm not sure it was completely obvious," he chuckles. "I haven't had stage fright like that in a while. I remember thinking . . . I wish I was holding a guitar'."

Parker has almost total recall of October which not only saw the release of brilliant second album Lonerism but also saw Tame Impala tour the US for the third time in 2013 - this time with their new BFFs, the Flaming Lips.

The highlight, he says, was playing with Sean Lennon's band, the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, in New York where Yoko One made a surprise appearance. "It was one of those tours where so much happens each day that you barely get time to look back on what you did yesterday," he says. "You're just concentrating on the day, you know, it's the only way to stay sane otherwise your brain will explode with sensory overload."

Parker learnt from watching firsthand Flaming Lips' frontman Wayne Coyne's complete commitment to music and being a touring musician.

Tame Impala had a week off in the middle of the tour but instead of relaxing they played shows every night in South America where they were mobbed at their hotel like superstars. "I presume this is what it's like for every band but you feel like the Beatles down there," he laughs.

September was a relatively quiet time, some of which Parker spent in Paris with his French girlfriend, musician Melody Prochet. He produced the debut for her band, Melody's Echo Chamber, and was working on new material in Freo when we spoke. Around the same time, the Tame Impala frontman ducked over to London for a few days of collaboration with Grammy Award-winning New Orleans R&B singer/rapper Frank Ocean, "messing around and seeing what happened".

This potential dream team of two of the most intriguing creative entities in music today is obviously a hot topic - one Parker is keen to play down at the moment. "I'm not sure if you're meant to know," he says, nipping further probing in the bud.

June, July and August saw Tame Impala tour the UK and Europe, including a sold-out performance at London's Hammersmith Apollo and a storming set at the Glastonbury festival. In addition to their second tour of the US in May, a run of Australian dates concluded with the departure of bassist Nick Allbrook to focus on his other band, Pond.

"Some people need to take a breather from the circus," Parker says. "He wanted to just chill out and do his own thing. It's hard for everyone in the band . . . they want to be able to express themselves individually as well as be part of Tame Impala."

Cam Avery was drafted even though he doesn't play bass with Allbrook/Avery or the Growl, both local branches of the Tame Impala family tree. "I must have seen him play bass at least once, otherwise we would not have got him," says Parker, who agrees that Avery was recruited as much as a friend as a musician.

"The idea of bringing in a stranger for us is kind of an absurd idea. It's so much more important that there's someone that you're connected with in some way, musically or friendship.

"If the band sounds good," he adds, "it's because we play well and understand each other rather than being virtuosos."

Parker breaks off the interview briefly to lend his scooter to Avery. "Speak of the devil," he says, "now he's trying to steal my scooter as well as my band."

The highlight of April was two performances at Coachella, the celebrity-sprinkled Californian music festival where Parker was famously snapped with actor and freshly minted Tame Impala fan Danny DeVito.

Most of February and March were consumed with US dates. The band performed Elephant on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and was the odd one out among the Spanish and Latin bands playing to 50,000 fans at Vive Latino in Mexico City.

Which takes us right back to January when Tame Impala hit Singapore for the St Jerome's Laneway Festival and racked up two Top 10 songs in the Triple J Hottest 100 - Elephant at No. 7 and Feels Like We Only Go Backwards at No. 10.

Fast forward back to now and the band will perform on Sunday at the ARIA Awards in Sydney where they have seven nominations. Next month, Tame Impala will discover whether they are in line for any Grammy Awards.

Early next year, the lads will tour with the Big Day Out and support Arctic Monkeys at two big London shows - and that's just the gigs already inked.

Parker is fooling himself that 2014 will be a quiet year. "I think it'll be a year of hibernation," he says, before correcting himself. "Not even hibernation. Let's say it'll be a year of stuff happening under the hood."

For now, he's just glad to be back in his beloved Fremantle.