Q&A: Julia MacFarlane of Twerps talks about new album, inspirations and SXSW

Chris Duncan

Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Melbourne, Australia-based Twerps released their second full-length album Range Anxiety in January and will perform at the Panache party at the Hotel Vegas Patio on March 20 for South by Southwest. Here’s what Julia MacFarlane, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, had to say on the band’s influences, writing and SXSW hopes.

The Daily Texan: What were you aiming for with the release of Range Anxiety?

Julia MacFarlane: I think we were aiming to survive the process. But we had a new member, so we were just trying to figure ourselves out as a band again and figure out those dynamics. I think it was more an interior thing that was going on and maybe less spoken about. We had some chats about having an instrumental track or making it very collage-like, but it ends up how it ends up.

DT: How did you originally meet and form a band? Why did you bring on another member?

JM: Rick Milovanovic (former bassist) and Marty Frawley (lead vocalist and guitarist) met because they worked in a video store together. Marty started Twerps with a couple of his friends, who I knew as well. We did some songs together and put them up on Myspace. I really wanted to play in the new band and they let me. Patrick O’Neill (former drummer) left, which was sad, but it was getting to a point where we had different ideas about different things. Our new member Alex Macfarlane (drummer) is a songwriter, so it was cool to have someone else in the band who has a creative voice. It was a decision to step it up creatively.

DT: How would you explain your music to someone who’s listening to you for the first time?

JM: Well the simplified version would be a guitar-pop band, but if the person knew about music or had similar tastes as mine, I would maybe say it’s pop songs with some focus on instrumentation. I might say one of our influences is The Velvet Underground. That might help.

DT: On your most recent album, a lot of the songs were more upbeat and happy. It’s easy to get through. Do you think that, at times, that could take away from your message?

JM: I do think it’s important to communicate to people that something more is there. Reviews often say our music can be easy-breezy, and I think, ‘Is there something that we’re failing to do?’ If people aren’t picking up on that, you’re, in a way, failing. It can’t be just for you. There are a lot of songs about texture, the guitar parts and rhythms, but some are serious. I actually read a review of “Shoulders,” a song I sing in, and the person thought it was a laid-back summer tune. I felt completely opposite about that song; I think it’s so fucking heavy.

DT: You guys have been to SXSW before. What do you think will make this years’ experience unique?

JM: We’re doing a show a day, whereas last time, we did sometimes several a day. You feel so fried afterward, but it’s so fun. I’m looking forward to playing the Panache party. I haven’t looked into who else is going to be there, so that’ll be a surprise.