Skegss Is Australia’s Newest Surf Rock Heroes
Originally published on STATUS Magazine, September 2018
Australian surf rock trio SKEGGS is tube riding their way to success with the release of their debut album, My Own Mess.
Slacker rockers Skegss is rising fast from the land down under. The Ratbag Records pioneer signees—bassist Toby Cregan, drummer Jonny Lani, and frontman Ben Reed—are waving their long overdue debut album with pride and celebrating it with a well-deserved beer. Packing their signature sun-bleached sound and honest lyricism of cross-faded shenanigans, My Own Mess boasts an impressive 15 tracks recorded in the span of two and a half weeks. “It felt like we were in our own world. We got to stay in an epic house with a built in studio, and we enjoyed the hell out of it,” the band recalls.
After a brief reconnection between childhood friends Jonny and Ben, they came together and dropped into the airwaves of beachside town Byron Bay in 2013. “Our shared interest in music was something we found out later on,” Ben shares. “I moved to Byron Bay to start a band, and my mum said Jonny lived up there somewhere and that he played drums. I gave him a call and he was keen to jam.” Completing the lineup was Toby and then-guitarist Noa Deane; taking musical queues from the likes of Paul Kelly, The Eagles, Cat Stevens, Lou Reed, and The Black Lips, they took off with their debut single “L.S.D.” the year after with rave reviews of their perfectly-crafted garage rock sound.
“We just wanted to be 100% stoked about the album, and by the third EP, we found a bit of a formula we were happy with.”
Unlike most bands that almost instantly milk their newfound fame, Skegss stayed true to their dilla image and held out on releasing material. By 2015, the group had only publicized their second single and was cut down to a trio with Noa’s departure to focus on his surfing career. Building their contradicting repertoire of laid-back songs and energetically rowdy live shows, they embarked on a number of international tours and became the poster boys of Dune Rats’ Warner-distributed label, Ratbag Records. After much experimentation spread throughout four EPs, the band was finally ready to create a full-length album. “We just wanted to be 100% stoked about the album, and by the third EP, we found a bit of a formula we were happy with.”
Following in the storytelling footsteps of their influences, the easygoing, riff-oriented punk rock tunes of Skegss will transport you right into their sand-buried shoes. My Own Mess marks a new take-off for the trio, and they’re far from wiping out.
Your sound fits perfectly with your slacker aesthetic and your roots in Byron Bay. How has growing up in a surf-centered community affect the content of your music?
Byron attracts a lot of people that like live music and venues. This pub called The Northern provides the opportunity to support both well-known and underground bands. They let you put your own gig on and even if no one has heard your music, people come out to listen. It’s a pretty epic thing.
What’s the dynamic of the band like? Who usually writes?
Benny usually writes the songs on an acoustic guitar at home and then records it on his iPhone. Toby does the same with his songs. We’ll save chord progressions in the audio files and the lyrics in our notes, and then put them together. But there are times when it all just happens at once too.
Were there any major challenges you guys had to overcome while creating the album?
Not really. There were some songs that we thought would be easy to record but were actually harder than we thought. It was really just anticipating those little times.
“We’re hoping people like the album and that we can continue to play heaps more shows and heaps more places.”
What do you hope to achieve with the release of this album?
We’re hoping people like the album and that we can continue to play heaps more shows and heaps more places.
You guys just wrapped up your first UK tour. How was the experience like for you guys?
We had a real sick time, everyone was real nice to us we couldn’t believe how fun all the shows were! The Moth Club in London would be the most memorable gig; it was our biggest show there and the crowd was super loose. It’s a cool space and we just remember being on stage and tripping on how full the room was for an overseas show.
Let’s do lightning round questions. As you prep for a national tour with Twin Peaks, what are five non-musical equipment always present on your techrider?
Beer, champagne, water, scotch, and vodka.
When outside of the studio, Skegss is usually…
Having a beer somewhere.
Worst gig you’ve ever played?
Toronto, to three people that worked at the venue at 3 AM.
Favorite way to kick back after a long day?
A beer and some cheese twisties.
Collaborations you want to do in the future?
Jam with Paul Kelly.
Written by Sophie Caraan