On the surface, Byron Bay garage rock trio Skegss appear to be three of the most laid-back blokes in Australian music… and yeah, that might be true. But they’re also three of the hardest working.
Since releasing their debut EP back in 2015, the band have toured relentlessly around the country (and the world), they’ve signed to Dune Rats’ record label Ratbag Records, released a string of other EPs, and are now gearing up to release their debut full-length album My Own Mess.
So, ahead of their performance at this year’s Festival Of The Sun, we caught up with members Toby Cregan and Ben Reed to chat about the struggles of non-stop touring, flavoured milk, recording the new album, and Aaron Gocs.
“We want to play as many gigs as possible… we want to be playing every night“: Skegss chat their new album, their favourite flavours of milk, and non-stop touring.
HAPPY: Hey congrats on finishing the album! How does it feel having it done?
TOBY: It feels really bloody good… I’m happy to have it done.
HAPPY: How different was it writing a full album compared to past EPs?
BENNY: Because it was our first album, we put a lot more effort and time into making it something we were proud of. With the EPs we’d only have a few songs and not get much studio time, so we rushed it a little bit… but then this time we had the luxury of spending enough time until we got it to a point that we were happy with it.
HAPPY: Do you think it was a little more carefully considered than past releases?
BENNY: Yeah well we were still stoked with the other ones at the time… but with this one we wrote like fifty songs, then we went demo’d them out in the country, and we stayed there for five days, and then numbed that down to a bit over twenty songs. We thought we were gonna put even more songs on the album, and then we listened back on a couple of the tunes and thought “we’ll keep working on them later on.”
TOBY: Yeah I think we spent more time on this album than anything we’ve ever done. I’ve never worked on anything so long and tried so hard at it.
HAPPY: Did you ever start to overthink things after sitting on them for too long?
TOBY: Nah cos out songs are still simple and shit. It’s more the process of widdling them down and knowing what was good. There’s a lot of thinking to be done when you’re taking sixty songs down to fifteen, but we didn’t want to confuse ourselves by making it too difficult or technical.
HAPPY: Yeah so it still felt natural…
TOBY: Yeah definitely… for sure!
HAPPY: I love that when you’re releasing it physically, you’re releasing it with a full zine illustrated by Jack Irvine… where’d that idea come from?
BENNY: Yeah the idea for it originally was for it to semi translate what the songs meant, and then we thought it’d be really sick to have a zine, and to have Jack do some more stuff for the record. It was more the theme.
TOBY: There’s kind of like a comic in there though, and it kind of tells the story of the songs a bit. If you’re listening to the album, you can look at it and it’ll transcribe it a bit more for ya. And Irvine’s art has always accompanied our music.
HAPPY: Do you reckon that when an album has really sick packaging like that, it makes the album feel a bit more special?
TOBY: Yeah I think so… definitely. That’s something that we put a lot of time into as well. We were just trying to do everything we could to help it, ya know?
HAPPY: Yeah definitely. Do you think visual accompaniment is always important to music?
TOBY: Its always been important to our music, yeah.
BENNY: Yeah definitely to our band.
TOBY: Especially because all the artworks always been similar… Jack’s always done it.
HAPPY: Yeah you’ve always kept a general theme… I love his drawings, they’re always so great…
TOBY: Yeah and Benny draws cartoons as well… and his songs are a bit like that… like cartoon characters.
HAPPY: And speaking of the visual element… I was re-watching all your videos the other day, and I love the clip for Got On My Skateboard with Gocsy…
TOBY: Yeah Gocsy!
HAPPY: How did he get involved with the video?
BENNY: Yeah we just contacted him to see if he was keen…
TOBY: And he was keen.
HAPPY: Simple as that.
TOBY: Yeah I can’t actually remember hey. Cos we were all away… we weren’t actually there. Our friends went and shot it because we might have been on tour or something. But it was cool… I think he’s one of the funniest people around. We didn’t wanna have skateboarding in that video, but then we ran out of ideas so I said we should just hit up Gocsy…
BENNY: It was just after he did Ocean Girl…
TOBY: Nah it was before. He pretty much only had the classic stitch up thing out…
BENNY: Ah that’s right
TOBY: And it turned out he actually skated and shit… so that was the whole idea.
HAPPY: Have you met him since?
TOBY: Yeah we met him since then…
HAPPY: What’s he like?
TOBY: Yeah he’s a real nice guy. What was the joke he made?
BENNY: Umm, I can’t remember…
TOBY: Oh yeah, I was like “do you wanna hang around and get a beer Gocsy?” And he was like “yeah sure, I’ll only have one, but I’ve gotta get home because my kids are at home… but I saw this really great documentary the other day called Home Alone.” That was so funny to me.
HAPPY: In that video there was a bit of a Big M recurring theme… what’s each of yours favourite flavour of milk? Choccy or strawberry?
TOBY: Iced coffee…
HAPPY: Iced coffee? That doesn’t count…
TOBY: Yeah iced coffee is just flavoured milk. Not actually any caffeine in it…
HAPPY: Then what’s the point?
TOBY: Nah they’re heaps good. What are those ones you get from Adelaide? The Nippy’s ones… they’re just flavour, and they’re my favourite ones.
BENNY: Yeah the popper ones, they’re pretty good. They kinda just taste like caramel.
TOBY: Yeah they’re so good aye.
HAPPY: Yeah fair enough. With this next tour, you’ve been selling out like three shows in a row… how does it feel seeing all that happen?
BENNY: It feels so good. We’re gonna be having so much fun.
TOBY: We want to play as many gigs as possible, so it feels really good. We want to be playing every night.
HAPPY: Does that kind of touring ever get a bit intense though? Playing that many gigs on the trot?
BENNY: Nah it’s pretty fun. It’s a good challenge. It’s not really a challenge though… it’s fun to see how far you can push it.
My Own Mess will be released Friday September 7th. You can pre-order the album here, and catch Skegss live at any of the following dates:
SAT 13 OCT – METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY
SAT 13 OCT – METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY U18
SAT 20 OCT – CROXTON, MELBOURNE
SUN 21 OCT – CROXTON, MELBOURNE U18
FRI 26 OCT – THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE
SAT 27 OCT – THE ZOO, BRISBANE U18
FRI 02 NOV – HQ, ADELAIDE AA
SAT 03 NOV – METROPOLIS, FREMANTLE U18 MATINEE
SUN 04 NOV – CAPITOL, PERTH
FESTIVAL OF THE SUN – DECEMBER 13th-15th