Having survived three tours through the United States, and built a solid reputation in the Melbourne local music scene, Twerps’ fortunes are on the rise and rise.
Praised by Pitchfork and the local music media, alongside featuring on a swag of festival bills, the band – along with their close counterparts – Sydney’s Royal Headache, Dick Diver, and Boomgates – were forming a music brat pack with their janky pop and slacker attitudes.
However at the time of this interview with band leader Martin Frawley, they had just played what was widely considered to be one of the worst gigs of their young career.
After drinking a little too much the night before, their 11am set at the Meredith Music Festival was a less than stellar experience.
“We could’ve played better,” admits Frawley, “but, it was a fun time and a really great experience, I guess.”
While the scruffy singer and guitarist has high hopes of returning to ‘The Sup’ sometime in the future, it remains to be seen if organisers will have him back.
As Frawley begins to address the issue, it is clear he has a strong sense of where, or more appropriately with whom, the fault of their generally lackluster performance lies.
“It’s just people’s ability to not be very good in a band, which is a sore point,” he expresses “[I was] a bit disappointed, definitely with some people in the band,” he carefully emphasises.
According to Frawley, these issues have arisen before. Although the singer refuses to get specific, it is clear he is referring to the performance of drummer Patrick O’Neill, who brought the band’s set to a grinding halt in the middle of “He’s In Stock” due to poor timing.
Regardless of the outcome however, Frawley is quick to acknowledge the scale of the opportunity the festival set afforded them. “A lot of bands say they always think of doing Meredith, but, it’s a true thing. It’s a pretty amazing fun thing. It was pretty cool to see how it all worked.”
As he skims through his personal highlights of the festival, there’s a sense that aside from international rockers Primal Scream and comedy MC JB Smooth, it was his local mates that he was happiest to see there. “We know all the Royal Headache dudes and we’ve played heaps of shows with them over the years.”
“We met [up with] the Cut Copy dudes as well”, he adds. “It was good to see lots of people that you haven’t seen in a long time, and just sit and get sunburnt and drink VBs.”
Indeed Twerps would have had some catching up to do after being on tour for much of 2012. During that time the band took a trip to the United States, where they seem to be filling a niche.
“People like us because we sound Australian”, claims Frawley. “I hope we don’t sound too Australian, and get pin pointed as an Aussie band. I don’t want to get too tied down on that.”
But certainly there is a market for Aussie pop in the US, as the band found recently. “A lot of people will ask us about our friend’s bands when we tour, like Royal Headache, Dick Diver, and UV Race,” says Fralwey.
“We played in Seattle and people were like, ‘play a Dick Diver song!’, and we were like ‘that’s too hard dude!’”
It was the tour through the States that established their appreciation for the Aussie slacker style. “We came back pretty proud of the sound we had. You definitely get to have a big look at yourself, and we went home and made the record vibing on the fact that we were from Australia and wanted to make it sound like the Go-Betweens.”
The resulting, self-titled eleven track record is what Frawley describes as a “shamble of songs.”
“I guess there are a lot of different songs on there like “Who Are You” and “Grow Old”, which I wrote at (solo artist/Crayon Fields member) Geoff O’Connor’s house one day because he had a Fazer pedal.” recalls the singer.
“I’m glad they work together as a batch because we had a few we culled off that would’ve exposed that it is a bit shambolic”, he admits. “It’s not all about one thing.”
“They’re just normal stories about my life, if you can call them stories… I’d like to call them fucking rants of a lunatic,” he says laughing.
Yet as much as he plays up the disorganised nature of their long form debut, he’s quick to reiterate its meaning to the band. “Anyone’s first album is their best because it’s the one they’ve been working on their whole life.”
Following their shaky experience at Meredith, the band are looking ahead to the gigs they already have lined up. Laneway Festival is the band’s next big tour, for which Frawley promises Twerps will be in fine form: “We’ll totally be rested up.”
“The Laneway tour is gonna be a rolling ball of fun around the country and we feel so privileged to be asked to do it,” he enthuses, “so we’re gonna knuckle down over the next few months and just try and slay it and have a good time.”
Twerps is out now through Chapter Music, and the band play Laneway Festival this February, full dates, details, and playing times here.