From the moment he first heard Tame Impala, Thundercat felt a profound sense of connection to Kevin Parker — which made his desire to work with the Australian psych whiz more of a need than a want. “There’s a part of me that felt like we’d be in a band together,” the bassist and songwriter tells Rolling Stone with a laugh, adding: “Even if we weren’t in a band together, it just felt like we were definitely long lost bandmates from another era.”
Now, Thundercat (real name Stephen Bruner) has finally realized that dream on his new song with Parker, “No More Lies.” The two artists’ distinct styles blend perfectly on the song — bustling, groovy, slightly wonky funk tinged with just the right psychedelic touches — as Bruner and Parker split vocal duties and mediate on an ill-fated relationship with humor and hard-edged candor.
Bruner says he fell in love with Tame Impala the first time he heard “Apocalypse Dreams” off 2012’s Lonerism. Noting the thematic synchronicity with the 2013 Thundercat album Apocalypse, Bruner says that song was a balm as he grappled with the grief following the death of his friend, jazz pianist Austin Peralta.
“I was in my 20s, and there were a lot of things in and around the feelings that came with that moment,” he says. “I remember hearing that [song], and the line, as soon as he said, ‘Everything is changing,’ I felt that in my spirit. It spoke to me. It felt so wild and shape-shifting, emotionally.”
The excitement was palpable when the musicians finally met and started working together. In classic fashion, Bruner cracks, “I almost peed on myself.” But he also remembers how important it was to tell Parker, “When I say I’m a fan of your music, I mean it. Your music held me together.”
From there, the pair quickly started creating. Parker brought in the rough idea for “No More Lies,” Bruner immediately added a bass line, and the rest of the song flowed naturally from there. Bruner took the lead on vocals and lyrics — “The concept kind of came up like vomit, to be honest,” he says — but every element of the track was a collaborative effort.
“There’s only a couple of people I’ve written lyrics with, and I invited it because I wanted to embrace whatever was to come of what we would create,” Bruner says. “I felt like I knew we wouldn’t steer each other wrong. There’s a lot of trust. Even feeling comfortable enough to sing in front of somebody that you look up to, or somebody that you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of. But I didn’t hold back.”
At the heart of “No More Lies” is a monolog from Bruner, in which he tries to parse the Catch-22 of how you can hurt a partner with a lie as much as the truth. It’s a universal anxiety, but Bruner ends with a perfect one-liner that gives the issue a hyper-local twist: “If it seems like I don’t care, it doesn’t mean I don’t care — it just looks like I don’t care, because my emotions have been sanded off.” Then, with a self-conscious chuckle, “I live in L.A., sweetie, what do you expect!”
Of that particular Los Angeles condition, Bruner (who’s spent his whole life in the city) says, “Everybody has dreams, everybody’s a star, everybody’s expendable, everything is expendable, everything is too expensive. It’s embedded in our culture. Even though there are other places than Hollywood, it’s still Hollywood. ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ — where else would you hear that? You wouldn’t hear that in Wisconsin.”
With a laugh, he adds, “I feel like Walter in The Big Lebowski: ‘Am I wrong here? Am I wrong?!’ Well, you’re not wrong — you’re just an asshole.”
“No More Lies” is the first proper single Thundercat has released in three years since his 2020 album, It Is What It Is. He’s stayed busy since then and without giving too much away, says there’s “absolutely” more music — and a new album — on the horizon. “No More Lies,” though, offers a glimpse at where he’s at creatively and how he’s been trying to approach his work at this juncture.
“I’ve just been trying to be very open to how things show up creatively with me, and I feel like this is one of those moments that is showing itself as the difference,” he says. Of the other music he’s working on, he adds, “I’m open to many different, new things. I’m excited, but in a different manner — charting unknown territory, so to speak.”