TWERPS

Just Enough Slack

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.
See more at www.witheverylight.com

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.

Tour Dates:

Feb­ru­ary 27 — The Zoo Twi­lights at Mel­bourne Zoo, VIC (sup­port­ing Stephen Malk­mus and The Jicks).

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