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“Workin’ all day, trying to forget about the old me.” Like most of us, Martin Frawley is busy trying to work himself out. He lives alongside the long shadow of his late dad, musician and songwriter Maurice Frawley, a cultural icon of the Australian underground and collaborator of Paul Kelly, Tex Perkins and Mick Thomas.
Most of Martin’s 20s were spent writing and playing songs in locally beloved Melbourne band Twerps – a collection of pals who were on the forefront of the city’s jangle pop renaissance. A few albums, US tours and band rotations under its belt, Twerps split up in 2018 and Martin turned his compass towards a solo project. His first album, Undone at 31 (2019), was a bit of a reckoning; a wild ride through the wreckage of both a band and longterm romantic break up. His new album The Wannabe is a personal, cheeky and, at times, self-depreiciating collection of songs unpacking the reality of finding his way as an adult without his dad around, and ultimately falling back in love with life, music and someone new.
Martin and his band – friends Dan Luscombe (The Drones), Steph Hughes (Boomgates, Dick Diver), Nik Imfeld (Tyrannaman) and Dan Kelly – had heaps of fun recording The Wannabe in Melbourne. The title track is a particularly spicy take on an entertainment industry that seems to give more shits about marketing than music. The album is a bit of an emotional tour, from anger and derision, through to comedy, through to deep and honest love. It’s positive with a lot of sadness. Not unlike Martin himself.
As well as the guitar, Martin had some fun playing the piano on this record. The technical term is ‘multiinstrumentalist’ but Martin’s more of a musical explorer of sorts. No one is exactly sure how these things work – if Martin was born into music or if it was born into him, but it doesn’t really matter. Music is what he loves. It’s what he does. It’s not about the industry or about success – not anymore. It’s about the freedom of creating songs on his own terms, and trying to let go of the feeling he has something to prove: to his dad, to his critics, and to himself. And while he’s not sure he’ll ever fully shake that feeling, he’s at least relaxing and having a bit of fun doing it.
Like his dad, Martin has a reputation as a ‘musician’s musician’. He hosts a pretty sporadic podcast Dive For Your Memory, where he has fast and loose chats with musicians while doing a deep dive into their musical inspirations and canon. He and his fiancé Lauren also make wine under the label El’More Wines, named after the farm and small town where his dad grew up. It’s all come a bit full circle, really.