Having only been a band for the better part of a year and a half, …
It’s 8:30am, and Skegss bassist Toby Cregan is in a haze. He’s not hungover, per se–in fact, he’d normally be up earlier if the weather was good for catching a wave or two.
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Instead, Cregan confesses to an adolescent night of partying. “We had our premiere for the Bush TV music video last night,” he says. “I was hell excited, drinking wine and shit, and then I stayed up watching the last Fast & The Furious movie. Have you seen it? It’s so good. It’s really corny but it’s really fun.”
Is there any deeper connection between Skegss and the Fast franchise? Maybe not, but consider this: Both may be a little loud and superficially bratty, but beneath the exterior of each you’ll find the kind of heart that has allowed them to connect with a die-hard audience at large. That relationship–at least on Skegss’ behalf–is set to continue blossoming with the release of their second studio album, Rehearsal. Although it doesn’t boast any appearances from John Cena, as the ninth Fast movie does, you certainly can see the effort the north-coast trio have put in to make Rehearsal the album that it is.
“We’ve worked harder on it than anything we ever have before, definitely,” says Cregan. “We almost went and made an album way before we started making this one, but that didn’t end up happening. It wasn’t even the songs–some personal shit came up and we had to bail on the studio time. We scrapped about three quarters of what we were working on, and by the time we actually got back in the studio everything felt new again. The first time around, we were pretty upset and wishing we could go and do it. Looking back now, though, I feel like we made a way better album. Everything just timed out–even going into the studio itself was like a buzzer-beater just before COVID.”
We’ve worked harder on it than anything we ever have before, definitely. We almost went and made an album way before we started making this one, but that didn’t end up happening.
[ Toby Cregan ]
To make Rehearsal, the trio–completed by vocalist/guitarist Benny Reed and drummer Jonny Lani–returned to The Grove, a beloved studio on the Central Coast of New South Wales where they had previously tracked their 2018 debut My Own Mess. With them in the studio was producer Catherine Marks and engineer Chris Collins. Although they’d worked with Collins plenty in the past (“He’s always been there,” says Cregan, “and really helps us to find our sound”), the sessions marked the first time Skegss had worked with Marks. It was an odd pairing on paper, at the very least–Marks had previously worked on records by artists like The Killers, Alanis Morrissette and Wolf Alice, which aren’t exactly bedfellows of a band like Skegss.
“I think when we first started out, she was definitely asking what she’d gotten herself into,” says Cregan with a laugh. “By the end of it, though, I think we’d meshed real nice. We’d never really had anyone in that proper producer role before–she made us work crazy fucking hard getting the best takes. I’m pretty sure every song on the record had the base of guitar, bass and drums tracked live, so we really had to focus and get it as good as possible. We must have done some of those songs dozens of times, and she must have listened to them hundreds of times over. We’d take a break, I’d maybe go watch a movie and come back, and Catherine would still be listening to the same song she was when I left.”
Among Cregan’s contributions to Rehearsal are the aforementioned Bush TV and Fade Away. The former marks the first time Cregan and Reed have shared lead vocals on a Skegss song, which Cregan was chuffed with. “When I played it to Benny, he said it needed a bigger chorus,” he says. “It was his suggestion to sing the extra ‘wait until you miss me’ line, and it ended up sounding so sick.” As for the latter, Cregan penned the song as an ode to his dog, Blaze. “I got him a week before we went into the studio,” he says. “It compelled me to write … I just lucked out, really. I ended up liking that song even more than Bush TV.”
Cregan has no lofty ambitions for Rehearsal. He’s not anticipating a global platinum-seller, nor an arena tour to follow–especially not with everything going on lately. He has but only one request for those listening to the album: No fencesitters. “Yeah, fuck it,” Cregan laughs. “I like it. That’s all that matters. I really don’t mind all that much. I just hope people feel something, y’know? Even if you don’t like it, that’s a strong feeling, right? I don’t want anyone to be fucking bored by it. No fencesitters!”