G’DAY: Eight Miles High In The Land Down Under

EDITOR’S NOTE: In advance of Tame Impala’s sold out show at the Mann on Friday, I’m re-posting this 2013 dispatch from Australia where I spent a week interviewing TI mainman Kevin Parker for a MAGNET cover story. I will post that story in full tomorrow.

BY JONATHAN VALANIA As I mentioned previously, I have been in Australia for the past week profiling Tame Impala for the cover of the September issue of MAGNET MAGAZINE. I promised to blog some local color on a daily basis, but a hectic schedule, unreliable WiFi and soul-sapping jet lag put the kibosh on those plans. However, as I am about get on a plane (or series of planes, to be exact) for the epic 35-hour trek Homeric odyssey back home and as such will be incommunicado for the next couple days I’ll leave you with this insta-review of the Land Down Under.

Australia is very summery right now even though it’s winter here. Everyone is very nice and without exception white — barring the aborigines, who are invisible, and like Native Americans have been herded into remote and desolate reservations and have been almost completely decimated by alcoholism. There are no discernible signs of poverty. There are no right wing/religious assholes shouting hate at you from every media platform. Nick Cave songs are used in tourism ads. Newspapers appear to be thriving (the local paper was 133 pages on WEDNESDAY, how many pages was Wednesday’s Inquirer?) The Progressive Insurance ad gal is named Kitty instead of Flo and speaks with an Aussie accent but same beehive hairdo and white uniform.

It is, however, really, really fucking expensive. One of the most expensive countries on earth, I am told. In Perth, where I am, a cheap domestic beer will cost you $10. A personal pizza (cheapest thing on the menu) is $24. Cigarette cost $18 a pack (and are emblazoned with horrendous pictures of mouth cancer and shriveled fetuses). My hotel is charging me $20 a day for WiFi (that’s what I pay for a month of Internet access back in the States). There is a Ferris Wheel in the park across from my hotel and it says on the price sign, FAMILY OF FOUR $40. For a fucking Ferris Wheel ride! I am told it’s because of the huge and thriving mining industry (gold, ore, copper that’s sent to China and Iran/Iraq via an endless string of massive tankers on the horizon), everyone is flush and everything is priced accordingly. The guy who holds the STOP/GO sign along the mining truck routes makes $100,000 a year. Unskilled laborers make $150K a year in the mines. I am clearly in the wrong business. Despite my best efforts to blend in, everyone seems to know I’m American the minute I open my mouth and try and fake a ‘G’day, mate!’ Let’s do the rest of this TUMBLR-style:

This is Kevin Parker. He is Tame Impala. He writes, performs, records and produces all the music. He has a live band that enables him to recreate it live.

This is Kevin’s record player.

This is Kevin’s submarine.


This is Kevin’s girlfriend Melody. She is French and beautiful and cool and her band is called Melody’s Echo Chamber, which is also French and beautiful and cool.

This is a crane at the port where we took Kevin’s picture.

This is Erick and Ian. They are the twins. They speak French but are very nice. They are from Mauritius. They took Kevin’s picture. They are very famous surfing photographers. Their next shoot is Harvey Keitel, who is also very famous. Pretty sure he does not surf.

This is the nice lady that let us take Kevin’s picture at the port. She never heard of Tame Impala but when she called her son it turns out he is a fan and asked her to get her picture taken with Kevin.

The is a memorial for a man who was eaten by a Great White shark at the beach Kevin goes swimming. Great White attacks are becoming increasingly common and nobody is sure why. In the last year five people have been eaten by sharks on the beaches of Perth.

This is a mural on the wall at Mojo’s Bar, which is to Tame Impala what The Cavern Club is to The Beatles.

This is what a pack of cigarettes looks like in a country where the government isn’t bought and sold by the tobacco companies.

This is the side of a parking kiosk in Fremantle, the suburb of Perth where Kevin lives.

This is what a Vegemite sandwich looks like.

This is a memorial to original ACDC lead singer Bon Scott, one of Fremantle’s fallen sons. He choked to death on his own vomit in 1980 following an epic bout of binge drinking. Can’t help thinking there’s a lesson to be learned in here somewhere.

This is a psychedelic cat GIF that Wayne Coyne texted me this morning. Not sure why.

This is Wayne Coyne. He is the leader of the Flaming Lips. Tame Impala and Flaming Lips are co-headlining a tour of the United States this fall. It stops in Philadelphia on October 3rd. The first album Kevin bought with his own money was the soundtrack to Batman Forever, featuring the Flaming Lips. Kevin was 10 years old.