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To have “made it” as a band can mean so many different things these days. We are constantly hearing stories of well-known bands who are struggling to make ends meet through their music, despite how hard-working they are. For Melbourne band Twerps, this is all too familiar; whilst we all hear them on the radio, see them at their shows and festivals, we really have no idea at just how much work they have to put in to be there. Their newest release, Range Anxiety, due this week, explores these themes somewhat. I spoke with guitarist and vocalist, Julia McFarlane, about its long-awaited release.
“Last year was pretty hectic, but when you read it on paper it always looks more than what it was. We made the album the year before and recorded Underlay really quickly,” she tells me as her dog is barking madly in the background. Jules tells me that she and her partner, fellow Twerps bandmate (guitarist/vocalist) Marty Frawley, are in the midst of moving house in Melbourne and the poor pup is just settling in and a little bit confused by the new place.
“Last year was hectic, but for different reasons. I was finishing my degree, Rick has got a very busy design career, Alex works in a really busy law firm doing mailroom stuff and plays in a million other bands and Marty works two jobs. It would be so luxurious if we could say, ‘Yeah, last year we did just all band stuff’, but really you just squeeze it in when you’ve got the time,” she says.
“Sometimes we can’t even get it together to have a rehearsal because everyone is so busy. Doing band stuff is like a cool, awesome, fun thing we get to do once a week, whether it’s a rehearsal or a show or a day of recording. It was a fun year, but I just wish there was more of that … If we could just do band stuff, that would be the dream.”
Jules has almost completed a Fine Art degree at RMIT. Being a New Zealand national, she doesn’t have the luxury of fee help, so like the rest of the band, she works hard to keep on top of bills. It isn’t all work and no play for the band though, who have had plenty of fun times too. “We did a couple of sold out shows and it feels like those moments of hard work we squeeze into short periods of time are paying off.”
The band will release their second full-length album, Range Anxiety, domestically tomorrow with Chapter Music. Iconic US label Merge, who signed the band last year, will take it to the rest of the world on Saturday. Range Anxiety was recorded in 2013 by the band with Jack Farley, who has recorded much of their past material. After many months passed, the band is itching for it to get out there.
“Oh my God we’re totally excited. I guess it’s quite normal for a lot of bands to have that wait for an album to come out; we’re just not used to having that bigger label time frame. We were so happy to wait for them – when Merge were happy to put it out. We made that Underlay EP in the meantime, which worked out so well because we felt like we had to stay super productive,” she says.
The day after it is released in Australia, the band plays Sugar Mountain Festival in Melbourne. “I hope by that stage people have had a listen to it. We have been playing songs from that album at shows for the past year or so … Hopefully people will even be used to seeing them live.
“It will be fun playing them on that stage though, to a big audience and just before Kim Gordon.”
There are some seriously big names on the Sugar Mountain line-up and Jules relishes in being able to see former Sonic Youth bassist, Kim Gordon, who will be playing as Body/Head with Bill Nace. Other international acts include Nas, ODESZA, SWANS, Soul Clap, Iceage and Ariel Pink.
“Ariel Pink will be very fun. I’ve always missed his shows when he comes to Melbourne, so super excited about that!”
The band will kick off another tour of the US in March and April, and after so much success there in the past are sure to do well.
When&Where: Sugar Mountain, Victorian College of the Arts – Melbourne January 24