Australian four piece Twerps were a standout at this year’s Treefort Music Festival. Their first full length on Merge Records, “Range Anxiety,” is a culmination of eight years of dedication, multiple prior recordings and several lineup changes.
Singer/guitarist Marty Frawley, singer/guitarist Julia McFarlane, drummer Alex Macfarlane, and bassist Gus Lord are touring through the summer, bringing their jangle-pop inspired music stateside.
Twerps played to a packed house at Mississippi Studios on their way through Portland, Oregon. Frawley has an easy stage presence, compared to Julia McFarlane’s stoic performance and Alex McFarlane’s driving drum beats. Watching them play “I Don’t Mind” and “Stranger” reminds you how well this crew goes together and displays the chemistry they have with one another.
She Shreds: So, the band started in 2008 and you’ve had a few line-up changes since. How do you integrate new members into the band and into the sound?
Julia McFarlane: Both times, actually, we had a few shows booked already… When Pat [O’neill, drummer] left, we kind of had to find someone pretty fast. And we had been playing shows with his band, The Stevens, and we all really loved Alex’s drumming and he’s a songwriter as well and a really good dude. And we were like, “Do you want to just fill in because you would be awesome.” And he’s still doing it, so he must really like it. He’s had heaps of input creatively as well. So when Alex joined we just had this burst of creativity because he was so motivated. So that felt kind of seamless. We were able to figure out how the band was going to work in a new way with Alex.
How did you get started as a band?
Marty, who’s the singer, and Rick, our old bass player, worked in a record store together. We all knew each other quite well because I played in other bands and Marty played in other bands. They sat down and made some silly demos and they put them up online. They did a cover of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World,” and I heard it. There was also another song, one of the first songs we did that Marty wrote that sounded like The Clean. I was like, “Can I be in your band? I really want to be in your band. Please can I be in your band?”
What was the first instrument you picked up?
Piano. I was classically trained on piano. I was into it, really into it. I badgered my parents to get a piano. My brother played guitar, my younger brother, and I thought that was pretty cool. I borrowed his guitar all the time. He was like, “No,” and I just made him because I was a bit of a bully. Like, “give me your guitar.” Probably when I was, I reckon, thirteen or fourteen. It was a red Fender Squier Strat. And I was like, “Please my friends and I are going to start a band. Please can I borrow your guitar?” And he finally, after he got really angry and fed up with me he said yes and I brought it back to him with a big chip out of it.
What gear did you bring with you on tour?
I have a ‘74 mustang and I have some pedals. I use a Boss Tremolo quite a bit and I use a Boss chorus pedal for one song. I use a Holy Grail Reverb and I always have a Boss tuner pedal plugged in. I have a Boss Analogue Delay for one song.
What advice do you have for new guitarist or bands who are trying to get something out there?
Follow your instincts. Follow what you really think is the right thing to do and the fun thing to do.