There’s a lot to be learned from the title of Twerps’ forthcoming second album. Range Anxiety is due on January 23, which is more than three years since the band’s self-titled debut came out. That record wasn’t quite an international best seller, but it secured the Melbourne foursome legions of loving fans around the world.
Many who are drawn towards Twerps’ hazy garage pop tunes quickly develop a deep-rooted affection. When Mixdown checks in with the band’s front man Marty Frawley, he says this was one source of anxiety during the construction of album number two.
“Once you realise people enjoy the music you make, like any art form, you want to make it work, so you try to take steps forward in that, make sure you pick the right times to play, or the right people to put out your record, or to talk to the right people and write songs that you feel happy with.”
Generally speaking, when you’re anticipating something’s arrival, time starts to drag. By just about anyone’s standards, three and a half years is a sizable gap between album releases, but Twerps didn’t simply vanish in the interim. Over the last few years the band’s been a constant live presence around Australia, while also building a significant following in America.
On top of this, in late 2012 Twerps dropped the single ‘Work It Out’, which was followed by the Underlay EP in August 2014. However, when it came to making another full length, they were determined to get it just right.
“I just want to make sure that I put out something I’m happy with that hopefully my friends like and hopefully my mum will be proud of,” Frawley says. “We’re not going to put out something because we feel the pressure. We’re just going to do our thing. Also, sometimes you don’t have anything to write about. Sometimes life’s pretty good. Your first record’s usually just a batch of songs and then your second one you’re like, ‘Oh, so we have to make some more songs.’ So that was a bit more tricky.”
When it comes to evaluating artistic merit, there’s an unfortunate inclination to dismiss things that require too much effort. All creators have their golden moments, where ideas flow without a hint of struggle, but for the most part it takes time and patience to create lasting pieces of art.
“I feel like sometimes in this society it’s like, ‘See I told you, you’re not that good,’” Frawley says. “It’s maybe an Australian thing too, where people think you’re a bit of a wanker if you try hard. Compared to our American friends, who are just so earnest; they’re like ‘I’m going to play in a rock’n’roll band’ and ‘I’m going to get on Letterman’ and ‘I’m going to fuckin’ make a career.’ Whereas saying that here it’s probably like ‘Yeah, pull ya head in mate.’
“I don’t want to downplay the fact that I tried hard to make this record,” he adds. “That’s kind of important to me… being honest that it wasn’t that easy to make.”
As well as the creative labour, Frawley points out the significant lifestyle compromises necessitated by a commitment to the arts. “I grew up around two artists, my parents, who weren’t incredibly successful and worked part time jobs to continue their thing. My mum said when I was 18, ‘If you’re going to play music, get ready to do lots of shit jobs.’ I think when you kind of go ‘Oh, some people like this stuff. I can’t do it,’ you want to make it good.”
At this stage, Frawley is still making ends meet through menial labour, but Twerps are suitably positioned to take things to the next level. Legendary indie label Merge Records will release Range Anxiety in the US, while the eminent folks at Chapter Music will handle the local release. Artists and record labels often have rather fractious relationships, but for Frawley, the label support goes a long way.
“People can crush people pretty easily and I don’t believe in that,” he says. “It’s pretty easy to shit-can someone’s record on a website, but it’s like, ‘maybe if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it’. I’m not really worried about [Range Anxiety]. The people that put out our record like it, so that’s probably the most important thing.”
The record’s release will coincide with Twerps’ appearance at the Sugar Mountain Festival, which goes down at the Victorian College of the Arts. Now that the album’s finally on the cusp of release, Frawley looks out at the New Year with manifest optimism.
“I’m pretty psyched with it,” he says. “It’s definitely a step up from our earlier stuff. The musicianship is really good on it. I’m really happy to have learned how to sing a bit more, and learned how to play guitar better and use different instruments, and we’ve got a new drummer who drums a lot differently.
“The record comes out maybe four days before we play Sugar Mountain, so that’s really exciting. That’s going to be a fun hometown show. [Then] we’re going to America, and then to Europe, and then we’ll do an Australian tour. Fingers crossed we just get to go places and eat cool food.”
LIVE PIC BY: REBECCA HOULDEN.
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Twerps will play Sugar Mountain Festival in Melbourne on January 24. For more information visit www.sugarmountainfestival.com. Range Anxiety will be out January 23 through Chapter Music.
February 27 — The Zoo Twilights at Melbourne Zoo, VIC (supporting Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks).