July 2024


Words: Tristan Ceddia Images: The Twerps & Oliver Georgiou

The Twerps are the type of band whose records can stay on rotation in some households for weeks on end before anyone bats an eyelid. Their heart felt garage rock and smooth grooves resonating in the minds of those that listen. Tristan Ceddia asked the little buggers from Melbourne some questions about how this has come to be.

Tristan Ceddia: How and when did The Twerps form?

Martin Frawley: Um rick and I started playing together around 2008 in the middle of the year, I had some songs I had been writing and they weren’t really fitting into the other band I was playing in… So Rick and I wrote songs over a few boozy Sundays and then thought why not start a band together? We then asked Pat who was around all the time and a close friend and we also needed an extra guitar and we had our eyes on Julia who was a banging guitar player in Batrider! Then we started playing rock shows!

Rick Milovanovic: When Marty and I met, from day one, all we did was revolved around music. We hung out and kicked about heaps, but it always came back to ‘How rad were Panel Of Judges last night’ or ‘Would you choose a hip hop song or a punk song for your skate video clip?’ or ‘Where’s Dunedin?’ or ‘Fuck man, learn bass so that we can cover that song’, I guess one day we spent the whole day writing little tunes in Marty’s bedroom, and to us it actually sounded like the stuff we were into, kind of. We listened back 100 times to everything we recorded and thought it was the shit simply because we’d made it ourselves, not because we thought it was a smash hit or anything. We’d start off trying to cover a song, but because we couldn’t figure it out it would eventually turn into our own little tune.

Julia McFarlane: Marty, Rick and Pat had been mates for years, going to shows and getting smashed on horse tranquilizers together. They were pretty tight, having punch ons with crap dudes and generally keeping the streets safe from trouble. They made a band based on wanting to copy some of their heros and some people including me loved the songs. I asked if I could play with them and they kept me hanging for a while just to make sure I was keen.

TC: The Twerps is a great name. Along with song titles like Little Guys, you have a real Sandlot Kids/ Stand By Me sort of vibe going on… Is there anything behind this?

Pat O’Neill: Rick was in Stand By Me. I’m not too sure where the name came from. I think it came about over beers between Marty and Rick before Jules and I came about.

RM: Pat’s referring to Corey Feldman. We called people we didn’t like ‘twerps’. And then one day we realised that we were just that, twerps. Actually we didn’t really think about it much, it was just a word we were throwing around 100 times a day. You mentioned Sandlot and Stand By Me and in a way you’re right, they’re both gangs, made up of members that like hanging, and are bound by friendship. Like when you were kids.

JM: And an affection for those movies. I don’t think the song writing was conceptualised to that extent where there is much behind it other than having fun.

TC: You guys were all great friends before starting the band right? Have you always played music together?

PON: We’d all been friends for some time but none of us had ever played music together before. Rick and I had never played in bands. Come to think of it, I’d never played the drums before. I think Rick and Marty decided that they shared a similar taste in music and were enjoying showing each other new stuff and is was most likely through this that they decided they should have a crack at making music they liked together.

RM: It was quite stratigical to come to think of it, Marty and I started muckin around together, nothing serious. We had a specific sound that we wanted to begin with so we hunted our good friend Julia, she was our favourite guitarist and wasn’t playing in any bands at the time. And Pat always spoke about wanting to learn drums, so we came together like that. Eventually we started practicing together on Saturday arvos, Saturday arvos are our thing, practice, hang, catch up, few drinks, then go out and watch a band together or do something fun. Around the time we started that ritual we got asked to play our first show at Albert’s Basement with Panel Of Judges and Jarred Quarrel – these friends had played for me as a punter for years and now we’re playing for them. As much as I say it’s all a joke and a bit of fun, that night was an rad experience for me. It ended up being a rad night, all our friend came and watched.

JM: None of us had played in other bands together – although Marty’s old band You Will Die Alone and my old band Batrider played together a fair bit.

MF: Not really the other band I used to play in played a few shows with Batrider and Rick showed me heaps and heaps of cool tunes! And Pat and I drank lots of beers together so I guess we just had to start a band together.

TC: You have had the pleasure of playing with some great bands including the Black Lips, The Bats and Deerhunter who asked you to support them not long after you formed. It must be a real trip to be playing with bands of the like…

PON: We’ve had some great opportunities in the last year or so and we’re totally appreciative of that. It’s humbling playing with such amazing musicians and great people and getting inspiration from them and more importantly, drinking beers with them.

RM: For me the exciting part is to be playing in front of the Bats fans, or Deerhunter fans. There may have only been 50 of them when we were playing, but they’re Bats fans! That’s the trip for me. It’s not like you’re personally asked by the band to support them, some of them don’t know or care who you are, it’s just rad to have the chance to play in front of people there to see that style of music. And you get to enjoy the headline afterwards and not have to worry about a ticket. It was cool chatting with some of them afterwards, but not about music, just about other stuff like the Superbowl.

JM: It’s cool playing with bands that you have  heard and loved that live in different hemispheres to you – but I think you realise pretty quickly that it’s actually funner doing your own shows – at pokey little venues or people’s houses. Those gigs are my favourite.

TC: Marty, I know your father was in Paul Kelly & The Dots. I assume growing up around music and musicians had a big influence on you?

MF: My dad showed me how to play guitar and never put pressure on me to play but was always keen to learn about what music I was in to and teach me those riffs! I’m sure if my dad had been a lawyer or builder I wouldn’t be playing in a band now. I’m very thankful!

TC: You recorded your Self Titled 7″ with Mikey Young (Eddy Current). This has contributed to the really organic sound of your record… I imagine this was a fairly stress free environment to record in?

PON: It was totally stress free especially as they were only intended to be demos so we could document for ourselves what we’d written in the first few months of the bands existence. We just bashed out the tracks in a rehearsal studio, in an hour or so, with Mikey sitting in the corner with the occasional thumbs up. It didn’t feel like recording and we’ve tried to keep that vibe with the last few recordings that we’ve done.

RM: Recording with a friend in a pretty chilled environment makes it totally easy. I can’t imagine doing it any other way like booking an expensive sound room, with the clock and metre ticking and having to perform for an engineer who doesn’t know your or your band. We wouldn’t be into playing a gig that way so it didn’t make sense for us to record like that. We recorded with Mikey on the spot just to document what we’d been doing with no intention of releasing the songs, we didn’t think about it at all. It has to be stress free, that’s the only way it works for us. And Mikey’s as honest and as chilled as they get so he totally set the mood as Pat said.

JM: Yes, it was very stress free! At the time I think we were intending on using the recordings for demos – which I think probably added to the relaxed performances. I don’t know anything about recording – so all I can say is that because of Mikey’s temperament I think the process was very efficient! There’s nothing worse than getting sick of your own songs during recording. Mikey is a gem!

TC: Rick, you once told me a great little story about when Marty recorded the song Dance Alone… Marty, is it true that you made up lyrics to this tune on the spot?

MF: Yeah, I had some ideas of what I wanted it to sound like but was a little nervous about writing lyrics as we had only played a few shows and then when we went to do the take Mikey, Pat and Rick were all looking at me like, GO! It’s rolling. Sing! So I just made some shit up and that’s what came out. I still haven’t learnt the lyrics for that song, I think I kind of like it all fresh and real to the moment… That moment kind of sucked though!

RM: Marty’s one of those dudes that can freestyle and pull rhymes out of thin air. He can still recite Bias B lyrics…the Metropolitan Mayhem number, I always get him to do it. So he winged the entire Dance Alone song at Mikey’s house night, I swear you can hear Mikey and I pissing ourselves in the background. You’d have to ask Marty, but I don’t think he knows the lyrics, it’s always difference when we play it, actually all our songs are, we keep saying we need structure, but it never happens.

TC: I know Julia formerly played in Batrider and Rick you have just formed Boomgates with some other friends, are there any other projects going on that we don’t know about?

PON: I’m playing drums in Dirtbag at the moment which is the solo project for Gill Tucker of Beaches and Spider Vomit with her brother Johnny on bass and Jack Farley on guitar. We’ve played a few gigs and recorded a 7″ which will hopefully see the light of day sometime this year.

RM: And Marty plays guitar in Panel Of Judges. Dion from Panels played with us too, everyone seems to be cross pollinating in Melbourne at the moment, it’s awesome. Then there’s other projects that aren’t about music which also keep us busy, keeps you going, keeps you challenged, it’s good.

MF: Dirtbag is killer! And I have just been writing and putting together songs for a record Julia and I are going to make. It’s a reggae record. Well see what it ends out like!

TC: You guys stand alongside a strong set of Melbourne garage rock ‘n’ roll bands. Who can you see stepping up next in Melbourne?

RM: Oh so many man. Can I list the ones that have already stepped up. Let me begin with easily the raddest group I’ve seen, and I’m not that surprised that it comes from one of the most talented dudes around, Scott O’Hara – his new band Bitch Prefect. We played with them in Adelaide and man it felt like I was watching the band that I day dream about being in. They were so true and real that it was like i was splashed in the face with a bucket of icy cold water. Other band that are killing me at the moment are Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, School of Radiant Living, Woollen Kits, Bum Creek, Terror Of The Deep (NZ), Parading, Circle Pit (SYD), Super Wild Horses, Dick Diver, UV Race, the list goes on… pretty much all local. They’re our friends’ bands so you can accuse me of being biased, but I swear that list represents the best (newish) stuff happening in Melbourne, really exciting stuff, hit makers, string breakers, all I wanna do is watch these bands play shows, then hang with them afterwards because they’re all great dudes.

PON: Some of my favourites would have to be School of Radiant Living, Woollen Kits, Constant Mongrel and the soon to be infamous Boomgates.

TC: What’s next on the agenda? Touring? Recording?

PON: We recorded a bunch of tracks with Mikey a little while back. We’ve also been writing songs pretty prolifically of late so we’re just deciding what to do with them now. We have a split 7″ coming out with The Ancients. Hopefully we’ll have an album out later this year with some sort of tour to follow. We’re also looking in to a tour of the US some time early next year.

JM: It’s just a matter of getting the time to fit it in around our schedules. Sometimes I wish we were all on the dole and could just bum around making music all day.

MF: We’re in the process of mixing our album which was recorded with three different people in three different locations, so we’re going to try and get it sounding like an album. We’re having fun thats the main thing. Fun!!

The Twerps

Buy the 7″

Next story: Euro Trash – Sam Hendel