For anyone even remotely familiar with the site, they’d likley know that I have the softest of spots for Aussie indie. Naturally over the years Twerps found their way among the loves here at RSTB. The band’s early releases had a shaggy earnestness that shone through their fidelity limitations. It seems that Merge thought much the same and in 2015 they took a jump to the top tier indies before the band called it quits shortly after due to personal differences. In the wake Martin has struck out solo, spinning the band’s bare, honest jangle-pop into something more toughened and weathered, yet still with a cocked eyebrow and an ever-present smirk. Sounding like Harry Nilsson taking apart Townes Van Zandt songs, its a definite shift in tone, but a welcome progression for those that have had Frawley on the turntable these past few years. Seems there’s another influence on his solo LP, that of his late father Maurice, who’s own career tumbled through a few groups in the ’80s (Olympic Sideburns, Japanese Comix) and wound up in solo territory in ’90s and ’00s. Martin talks through his dad’s legacy and the imprint this record left on him and his new direction below.
“I don’t know if it’s weird to select Triple-Skin Marquee, a record by my dad’s band,” Frawley muses. “I grew up around his music but, unfortunately, never totally understood his talent until he had passed. I was maybe 11 when this record was being made and didn’t really like music that much, but when I heard it being produced in the studio by Tony Cohen (RIP), I knew it was something hauntingly special. It was released in 2000 and was the band’s third album. The calibre of players on it is exceptional: Conway Savage (RIP), Shane Walsh (RIP), Charlie Owen and Des Hefner. Cohen and the band gel so beautifully, with so much space taken up by emotion.”
“I couldn’t really listen to Dad’s music for some time after he passed,” Martin reflects, “and I just recently went back to it. Sadly, I can’t ask my dad what all the songs are about, but I guess any artist should have a sense of mystery. He sounds heartbroken, lonely, brave, fun, and welcoming. “When I Lay Down with You” highlights each member’s strength. Charlie’s guitar-playing is really one of a kind, and he slots so well in between Dad’s frantic acoustic guitar. Des shuffles and rolls like you’re on the back of a galloping horse. Conway’s piano-playing is sparse and confident and breathes hope, and Shane on double bass gives it a heavy warmth. “Long Gone Whistle” and “Given Everything” are strong highlights, and you don’t hear many bands with this much space. Folk songs with hi-fi Velvet Underground-esque production.”
“Triple-Skin Marquee was only ever released on CD by Empire Records,” notes Frawley. The sticker on it quoted NME, which called them “the best late-night band in the world.” The record was well received at the time of its release, but my dad never really got the recognition I feel he deserved until he passed away. This LP is, in my opinion, the strongest songwriting and best performance by the band. He performed a lot around town and was appreciated by a certain crowd. But when I show this record to people, they always get back to me a few days later telling me how good it is, and thanking me for showing it to them. I think a lot of people, given the chance to hear this LP, would really enjoy it. I have shared it with young and old and no matter what, they get it.”
“Recently, I made my first solo album, Undone at 31, and was incredibly inspired by the sound of this record. I would have loved to have recorded with Tony,” Frawley laments, “but he wasn’t well at the time. He was one of a kind and an exceptional producer who has recorded so many incredible albums. This was a record I listened to a lot whilst writing my album as well as recording it. The piano-playing on this album was the main reason I didn’t use a lot of guitar on my own album. I thought the songwriting was really emotionally connective and honest, and that the space in the recording made you feel as if you were one with the band. I have missed my old man a lot the last couple of years, but having this amazing bit of art has made me feel that much more safe, and I’m grateful to have it.”
Sadly, the original of Triple Skin Marquee is rather hard to come by these days, though many songs can also be found on the compilation / tribute Long Gone Whistle. Its recommended listening if you can’t find your way to the original album proper, especially if you’re Stateside. Martin’s album is out this Friday on Merge, and is also highly recommended. Check that one out HERE.