Twerps prepare to round up their sixth year of bandhood with a shebang of a January. On top of releasing their third album Range Anxiety next month, they’ll also be charming familiar Melbourne crowds at Golden Plains and Sugar Mountain Festival with their wholesome brand of jangly, dazed, and undeniably well-arranged pop. We spoke to frontman Marty Frawley ahead of their album release, which happens to coincide almost exactly with Sugar Mountain. He takes us through the birthing of Range Anxiety and previously considered band names, as well as their recent signing to US label Merge Records. All the while, he sheds light on a few possibly-unbeknownst Twerps facts; compiled in the following list about as neatly as a Twerps jangle:
Range Anxiety might not have enough keyboard.
“There are lots of guitars on the record but there’s also some synths and stuff. [Back To You] definitely does – it’s got a keyboard in it. But yeah, lots of just plain old guitar! Now I’m thinking ‘Oh, maybe we should have had more keyboard,’ because we like the keyboard.”
Or vacuum (see trailer below).
“It doesn’t, unfortunately. That was just me being ridiculous. My friend sent me a message saying ‘That vacuum cleaner still gets me’ and then I was like ‘Damn! We totally could have done something like that and put it underneath’, but no we didn’t, unfortunately.”
And nor was the recording process that bad. Marty is just ‘a sook’.
“Mentally it was tiring because we had to work in between, you know. It’s just hard to manage all of us getting to the one place at the one time. But yeah, it was only a joke. I guess I’m not an arsehole dictator to the band; if anything i’m probably the sook and they have to put up with me being just a sook.”
They recorded Range Anxiety before their August EP Underlay.
“We finished recording Range Anxiety last year and then we mixed it until about March because it was hard being Christmas time. We made so many songs — well, not so many — but a bunch, and then we had to work out what ones we wanted to use… [the label] said that they could only do it by January, so we were like ‘Well, we kind of need to make some art – we can’t just sit here’. So we just made Underlay for ourselves and they worked on it, so they let us release it which was cool. Otherwise we were going to do it under another name, just because we needed to keep moving forward, and it’s just a bit depressing sitting around waiting.”
And the name was…
“I think we were looking at just calling ourselves The Managers. There’s also a classic band called The Managers but, you know, we were like ‘Well, who cares. It’s going to be so obvious that it doesn’t even really matter’. It’s pretty cheap to make a record and put it out yourself – we recorded it all ourselves and Alex [MacFarlane] plays drums and mixes it all… It’s also good because Jules [McFarlane] started making new music, so it’s good for her to be more creative in the songwriting.”
Everyone in the band writes songs now.
“Yeah. Well — she wrote a song on the first record, but I wanted to work with the idea of people – a boy and a girl – singing, and she’s my fiancée so I want her to work with that. It makes it interesting for the listener, so she started writing a lot more and now she writes better songs and it’s.. it’s intimidating because I’m like ‘Shit!!’. She writes her songs in such a different way, in the way that she’ll write all the lyrics and then she’ll write all the parts, whereas I’ll just go ‘Okay, here’s some parts – let’s jam! And then I’ve gotta go and think about it, so you know, I think I do mine straight up and hers are thought out poetry.”
They are signed to Merge Records in America.
“[Merge Records] are nice people and I have Skyped them and we’re going to play in Chapel Hill next year when we go over there, so that will be cool. We talked to them and our managers talked to them, and we thought ‘They are like us!’, so that was cool.
I wanted our record to come out in a lot of stores and I wanted it to be easy for people. I like the idea of that rather than it being on a whole lot of blogs because I don’t really believe in that stuff, I guess. We sent [Range Anxiety] to heaps of people and then Merge were just the best one, and they actually liked it so it was awesome. It was nice to be reassured that those type of people like our music – it means a little bit more to me than some 25 year old on a massive blog, if that makes sense. You know what I mean?”
Frawley isn’t partial to blog culture.
“I feel like the world is kind of manipulated by [blog culture], and it’s kinda cool, but it’s not really. I don’t think it’s going to do us any favours. We’re not that type of band.”
Julia McFarlane and Alex MacFarlane are not related.
“No, that’s just a coincidence. I thought it would be cool – we could just lie and say they’re brother and sister, but there’s probably no point in doing that! They’re spelt slightly differently, I’m pretty sure. I embarrassed myself yesterday asking how to spell Jules’ name and we’ve been dating for six years, so I’m not an awful person, I just totally forgot!”
Don’t get sucked into more than six shows at SXSW.
“We did that! It made me have a panic attack and I vomited in the car, so we’re not going to do that. Although, when we did it another time we were like ‘we’re not gonna do that!’ and then we played at Rachel Ray’s party, she’s like a famous celebrity chef. She had free Petron and we got shit faced and cancelled a show, so I feel like whatever we do, it’s gotta be true. We’re going to do it the way we do it, which is pretty… all over the place.
Our manager will always be like ‘Just play this one [show] because this one’s really cool’ and then we say ‘Okay’ and then it’s seven…”
They’ll be playing their new album at Sugar Mountain Festival in January.
“Yeah, I’d like to play a fair bit off the record. We’re learning all of them again because we first learnt it quite a while ago, so there’ll be a lot of that, but Jules will always want to play like one song that’s off an EP that we made six years ago. I’ll be like ‘No-one will know it!’ and then she’ll be like ‘That’s why!’ and I say ‘Okay.’ So there could be anything.”
Marty really likes NAS’ album Illmatic.
“I hope everyone can get around and see everything [at Sugar Mountain] and I guess in the end everyone can just bust out some jams to NAS. Just shake it! I just listened to [Illmatic] and I super-liked it. It’s so good.
I’m really looking forward to it.”
TWERPS AUSTRALIAN SHOWS
Thurs Dec 18
Melbourne - John Curtin Hotel
with Sarah Mary Chadwick + Bad Family
tickets $15+bf here
Dec 11 Melbourne – The Hi-Fi %
Dec 16 Melbourne – 170 Russell %
Jan 24 Melbourne – Sugar Mountain
Jan 28 Brisbane – The Tivoli *
Jan 29 Sydney - Enmore *
Feb 1 Melbourne - Palais *
Feb 3 Perth – Astor Theatre *
Feb 27 Melbourne - Melbourne Zoo #
March 7-9 Meredith – Golden Plains
% with War On Drugs
* with Belle and Sebastian
# with Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Range Anxiety will be released in Australia on January 23rd through Chapter Music, and January 27th in America through Merge Records.