The History of Tame Impala and Kevin Parker

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The History of Tame Impala and Kevin Parker

Tame Impala Kevin Parker
Words by Harry Connell

When it comes to the world of psy-rock there aren’t many that shine brighter than Australia’s own Kevin Parker.

The incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and mastermind behind the Tame Impala project is arguably Australia’s greatest export since coal—but there’s more to Kevin Parker and his story than you may know. Here’s a look at his journey from the nerdy teenage years to worldwide pop stardom. 

Early Days

During his teenage years, Kevin regularly jammed out with his close friend Dominic Simper, the only musical nerd that could match Kevin’s energy. The two bonded over a love of psychedelic rock from the 60s and 70s and began performing together in 2005 under the name The Dee Dee Dums, along with one of their other friends Luke Epstein. 

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Kevin Parker also began filling in for another band The Electric Blue Acid Dogs, which was fronted by Pond lead singer Nick Allbrook. In June of that year, The Dee Dee Dums would perform in a battle-of-the-bands style competition called the “Next Big Thing” which was held at the Rosemount Hotel in North Perth, which is available on YouTube as one of Parker’s first recorded live performances.

The Tame Impala project didn’t officially begin until 2007, when Kevin posted a number of songs on his MySpace page that he had recorded in his home studio. 

This would lead to interest from multiple record labels who looked to snap up the soon-to-be star, eventually leading him to sign with independent label Modular Recordings in July 2008.

Self-Titled EP

Swiftly following the Modular signing, Kevin released his debut EP; a self-titled project in September of 2008. Modular were happy for Kevin to produce the record himself, but wouldn’t let him mix it, instead bringing in Dave Fridmann, known for his work with The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev and MGMT. A successful release, the EP reached number 1 on the AIR (Australian Independent Record) Label Chart and hit the top 10 ARIA Physical Singles Charts. 

During 2008 he supported bands like You Am I, The Black Keys and MGMT to name a few, and as he couldn’t perform alone, he had Dominic (his childhood mate mentioned earlier) joining him on bass and Jay Watson on the drums. That year Parker would also make his first appearance on Triple J’s Hottest 100- landing the 75th spot with “Half Full Glass of Wine”.

Sundown Syndrome

The first official single release came the following year in 2009, with “Sundown Syndrome”, recorded in March of that year at London’s Toe Rag Studios. 

This led to a headline slot at the inaugural ‘Rottofest’- a music, comedy and film festival held on Rottnest Island, before they embarked on an Aussie tour in September and October that year. 

Track ‘Remember Me’ appeared at number 78 on Triple J’s Hottest 100, and the titled song “Sundown Syndrome” was used on the soundtrack of Oscar-nominated film “The Kids Are All Right”.


In May of 2010, Tame Impala released their debut album Innerspeaker, which was met with critical acclaim and named Best New Music by Pitchfork. Innerspeaker was recorded at the infamous Wave House—a studio located in Yallingup, and overlooking Injidup Beach, with views stretching across the Indian Ocean coastline. 

Many famous artists have recorded there, including the Beastie Boys and Fatboy Slim, and in September 2020 it was reported that Kevin had purchased the property. They commenced their album tour on May 13 2010, as an opening support for MGMT in the US, before returning to AUS for Splendour in the Grass, before heading to Europe in July which included a performance at Reading Festival. 

In November 2010, Innerspeaker won Triple J’s highest honour, Aussie album of the Year at the J Awards, and in an interview, Kevin stated that he’d secretly been recording another album which was nearing completion.


He was of course referencing Lonerism, their third album released in 2012 that featured hits like “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”, “Apocalypse Dreams” and “Elephant”. It reached platinum status in Australia, once again won Album of the Year at the J Awards and Rolling Stone Awards and received a Grammy nomination in December 2013 in the Best Alternative Music Album category. 

Kevin Parker wrote majority of the album by himself at his home in Perth, and also at his other house in France, and according to Kevin himself, Lonerism is a departure from his previous works; incorporating an expanded sonic palette, and featuring more emotional song writing, as well as narrative perspective.

The photo on the album cover was taken by Parker of the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, with additional editing by Leif Podhajsky, the graphic designer who created the art for Innerspeaker.

They began an international tour in 2012, supported by The Growl, and on it played major festivals like Coachella and Sasquatch, and appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. 

In September that year, Jay Watson switched to keys, and Kevin recruited Julien Barbagallo on drums.  On May 18 2013, it was announced that Allbrook would leave the band to focus on other musical endeavours, and that Cam Avery of Pond and The Growl would take his place. 

He played his final gig with the band on their last Australian tour date that year, at Perth’s Belvoir Amphitheatre, which was the same venue that Allbrook played his first gig with the band at back in 2008.


Kevin once said in an interview with Triple J, that Currents was inspired by Fleetwood Mac, stating that the purity and clarity of their sound prompted him to create a more streamlined style. Releasing in July of 2015, it became Tame Impala’s best-selling album, with over 1.3 million copies worldwide. 

It’s believed that Kevin Parker began Currents at the beginning of 2014, due to various teases on his Instagram page of him recording at the aforementioned Wave House in WA. On March 11, 2015, “Let It Happen” released as a free download, followed by “Cause I’m a Man” the next week via Facebook. 

Another week after that, Kevin hosted an AMA on Reddit where he dared fans to ask for new music (which they did) and he replied by dropping “Disciples”, followed by the third official single release “Eventually” on May 7th. In November 2017, a special collector’s edition of the album was released, which featured three B-sides and two remixes.

The Slow Rush

In January of 2019, it was announced that Tame Impala would be making their third appearance at Coachella, but this time as a headliner. In March, Kevin released “Patience” which was the first single off his fourth album The Slow Rush, and he teased some of the other forthcoming tracks on his Instagram too. 

Invited to play on Saturday Night Live that same month, they performed “Patience”, as well as “Borderline” for the very first time, releasing 12 days later on April 12. The full album released on February 14 2020, with 12 tracks recorded in Los Angeles and Fremantle. 

Since the release, he’s appeared on The Weeknd’s album After Hours in March 2020, collaborated with Gorillaz on their track “New Gold” in August of the same year, appeared on Justice’s fourth studio album Hyperdrama (2024) and much more.

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