2014 Artist Survey: Twerps

Martin Frawley on Mark Kozelek, the Teacher Who Ruined His Life, the First Album He Bought, and Why We Should Give U2 a Break

Jan 26, 2015 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Martin Frawley of Australia-based band Twerps.

Top 11 Albums of 2014

In no particular order:

1. Steve Gunn: Way Out Weather-The perfect LP for a slow starting Sunday. Rad production too.

2. Real Estate: Atlas-Seems like the New Jersey boys have gone and grown up, these legends make the best guitar pop around and they are lovely people.

3. Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks: Wig Out at Jagbags-Psyched to have new Malkmus jams. "Lariat" is a hit, "Houston Hades" is beautiful. He is an amazing songwriter.

4. HTRK: Psychic 9-5 Club-After making coffee and driving a truck all day at work this is the only LP that can make me relax. It's beautiful.

5. Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness-Great songs, great voice, and awesome guitar licks.

6. Total Control: Typical System-Anything Mikey Young touches turns to gold.

7. Ariel Pink: pom pom-I would enjoy a new Ariel Pink record every year. I love how there is always so much going on.

8. Blank Realm: Grassed Inn-Brisbane's finest getting the indie kids dancing finally. Easy fun LP.

9. Ty Segall: Manipulator-First record by Ty I have liked, good old fun rock 'n' roll. Can't really go wrong cranking this up.

10. Peaking Lights: Cosmic Logic-This record is my savior when I'm stuck in traffic, singing along like a little choir boy. Sick jams, don't know how they make these songs, but keep 'em coming. 

11. White Fence: For the Recently Found Innocent-Tim Presley is a LEGEND, lovely guy, rips at guitar, makes sick-ass songs and is the only person who doesn't get shit-canned by Mark E. Smith in his autobiography. LEGEND!


What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

Probably signing to Merge Records and making a new family with them. Recording the Underlay EP in a week and having it out not long after that, sometimes things take too long. This project made me feel inspired by how much you can get done by yourself. 

What was the low point of 2014 for you? 

Having to work stupid jobs and keep myself occupied so as I don't get depression due to the lack of stuff happening with the band. Gotta keep busy!

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

I would love to tour more, play more, smile more, see more of the world, meet new people, make more art, listen to more music, read more books, and drink less alcohol. 

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

I feel a bit sorry for U2, I feel like they thought they were doing something nice for the world. It's unfortunate they are slightly deluded but there are heaps of other things to think about rather than shit-can a band who probably couldn't care less. U2 serve a purpose so good on them, people should go outside instead of whinging on the Internet. 

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

Wow, that's a little fucked she got given grief for that. She seems like a cool lady. I like some of the things she has said in the media and I think she looks like she believes in good things. People need to get off each others' backs. In saying that, I don't really keep up with any of that "indie tabloid" rubbish, so I probably don't have much say in the matter. 

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

I hope so. Guns are ridiculous and it's always cowards who are scared that end up shooting people. Seems like it got swept under the rug quickly though. I hope some serious changes can come from this, it is sad to think people have to learn from such tragedy.

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

I'd like to think they all went to a better place. Maybe like the gates of heaven opened up and said "up ya come." I don't believe in God but that seems like a nicer idea than flying headfirst into the ocean. I feel so sorry for the families who lost their loved ones and the bullshit they had to under go from the media too. 

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

This guy is just a bit of a fuckwit, pardon my French. But he sounds like a little sook, and I'm sure he is too. There are so many other bands and artists out there that don't get to do half the shit this idiot does and he's still complaining. Be nice to the people you're playing to because some day you might not have anyone wanting to hear you whinge, mate. I like The War on Drugs and I'm pleased to say Adam is a mate. I think he handled himself pretty well. I guess it's funny? Ah, who cares?

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about? 

I would allow him to cover "This Guy," it's one of Julia's songs and it starts out sounding like "Hey Mickey." I'll let him come up with the lyrics.

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

Probably that our guitars aren't in tune and I can't sing. Both true statements.

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

Jessica Alba tweeting about us.

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

I would like them to stop asking me "how we started." Who cares? No one. And I would like them to start asking "do you rate yourself, mate?"

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

Maybe the discipline teacher that suspended me in Year 8. Mrs. Morley, she had no respect for me and she ruined my life.

What was the first album you bought and do you still enjoy listening to it now?

The Presidents of the United States of America, self-titled. I put it on now because I don't think I have listened to this in 15 years. And yes, I am kind of enjoying it. MEOOOOOOOW.

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?

All of them.

Both Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman died in 2014. Did either death deeply affect you and do you find it strange to grieve for a stranger? Which celebrity's death in your lifetime has most affected you?

Yeah, I did kind of feel a little weird about both of these deaths. I am a huge fan of film and have enjoyed and grown up watching lots of these two actors' films, so yeah, I did feel really sad. I also felt sick when Rik Mayall passed away, he was a genius. But maybe the most affecting one was, weirdly, Heath Ledger, just 'cause I was younger and he was really young and seemed to be doing cool things, and he also was apparently a really nice guy.

What responsibility does the international community have to help the African nations dealing with the Ebola outbreak?

Everyone should be helping because we are all in this world together. The Australian government makes me sick. This is a big problem and we all need to work it out together before it spreads out and we are all fucked.

Which well-known filmmaker would you most like to direct one of your music videos?

Spike Jonze so we could do kickflips together. Or actually probably Brian De Palma, he has made some of my fave films of all time. I would have said Richard Linklater but his last score on Boyhood was cringe-worthy.

More and more big artists are putting out surprise albums (Thom Yorke, Beyoncé, U2) with little to no advance warning. Does this make it harder for more medium-sized artists to compete, ones who abide by more traditional announcement, promotion, and release patterns?

No, everything is difficult. I don't make any money from this and they make millions so who cares, just put it up on Facebook and hopefully you'll get a couple of likes. Maybe this question would be better suited for someone like The Presidents of the United States of America, but not for Twerps. We're underground.

Given the choice, would you like to be immortal?

Nope, because you would see everyone you cared about die and that would be harder to live with. Also you'd get really tired. 

What was your most disastrous haircut experience?

I have been cutting my own noggin for the last 13 years, I have always had pretty ridiculous hair. But I shaved it once and it actually exposed how huge my head really is. So I will most likely never shave it again unless I get nits. 

In which instance did you most sell out and compromise your music?

Probably when I pull out rock moves and lick my guitar on stage. Or doing interviews. 

What's the biggest misconception your fans have about you?

That I am a stoner that blazes all day and stays chill all the time and is like "yooooo." I work six days a week and am basically a homebody. I am also not on the dole.

What quirky piece of band merchandise would you most like to produce for sale to your fans?

I wanted to make pillowcases with our faces on it, so can take your favorite member to bed. Stupid idea.

Do you ever long for the days before the Internet and cell phones? If so, what do you think has been the worst side effect of those technologies?

Sometimes I do, but then you realize that you wouldn't be able to stream The Presidents of the United States of America's self-titled album from Spotify on the run. Julia and I are pretty good at switching off from technology as we have friends who don't even talk to you when you're in the room with them because they are too busy playing Candy Crush. 

Which 2014 song most got on your nerves?

I will refrain from answering this question as I think I have already made one enemy out of this interview. Hopefully Mark Kozelek doesn't read end-of-year lists.

www.facebook.com/Twerpsmusic

 

Twerps - Back to You (Official Music Video) from Merge Records on Vimeo.



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