Oyster #98: Twerps Interview
"My friend had a bong that he called Black Betty."
Twerps' music is like a really good first date: a little bit clumsy and a little bit charming, leaving you intrigued about the vague promise of something more. The soundtrack to a bummer summer, these are songs that were written in bedrooms to be played in garages and at drunken house parties. They're small odes to growing up in the suburbs, working day jobs, drinking in parks, getting high, not giving a shit, and falling in love.
It might sound like an oxymoron, but Marty Frawley is a humble frontman. He’s a totally likeable, normal guy who used to work in a video store somewhere in the outskirts of Melbourne, where — particularly if he was hungover — he would judge people by what they hired. “I was probably a bit of an asshole,” he reflects. One of the perks was being able to drink beers on the job with his workmates (who also happened to be his real mates), but it was far from Frawley’s ideal career. “I don’t want to give anyone any big aspirations and hopes like it’s a great, inspiring job,” he says to anyone thinking of entering the DVD rental business.
Focusing his energy on the band has hopefully been more stimulating, although he still works part-time at a bar in the city. “I feel like you can’t just not have a job; you need to have a bit of a grip on reality — and it’s kinda funny, ’cause people are pretty interesting and weird in their own way, so it’s good to see how the world works.” Softly-spoken, it’s easy to imagine him quietly observing his customers and their eccentricities.
Instead of pursuing sport during high school (“I was a pretty small teenager”), Frawley picked up a guitar, which his musician dad — the late Maurice Frawley — had taught him how to play. He then went through a stoner phase (“My friend had a bong that he called Black Betty after that stupid Spiderbait cover song”), but got over that when he met bassist Rick Milovanovic, drummer Pat O’Neill and guitarist/keyboardist/girlfriend Jules McFarlane one day after school. Now, at 26, most of his friends are five years older than him. “I was just meant to be born in the early eighties,” he says.
Frawley seems a little embarrassed when I ask him about the time Jessica Alba tweeted about the Twerps song ‘Dreamin’. Their manager had been hassling them to get a Twitter account for a while — “We were like, ‘Fuck that, we can’t be bothered’” — but they finally caved in. O’Neill was driving him around a few days after they created it, when “we got, like, six twits/tweets or whatever about Jessica Alba in two seconds and we thought, ‘Nah, can’t be true.’”
At the time some people in the Melbourne music scene suggested that Twerps were selling out, but Frawley gets it: at the end of the day, Alba is just like the rest of us. “It’s just kinda funny that someone like that listens to a song that I wrote in my bedroom two years ago. Maybe she can model for our album cover,” he laughs. “We’ll probably sell a million records that way.”
Words: Ingrid Kesa
Photography: Patrick O’Brien