T.S.O.L, the Southern Californian punk pioneers, will finally be touring Australia this August. MORE: EXCLUSIVE: OCEAN …
It’s been a pretty good year for Skegss so far.
The Byron Bay slacker-punks just dropped their debut album, My Own Mess, to a sweet #2 spot on the ARIA Charts and reviews that have all but cemented its place atop the end-of-year list pile. Take for example our own 7/10 write-up, which called it “a friendly album, made by friends, for friends, that shines best when listened to with friends.”
The trio have also got an enormus headlining theatre tour coming up in October (tickets to which are selling like goddamn hotcakes). To amp up the hype machine, we sat down with guitarist/vocalist Ben Reed and bassist Toby Cregan.
You guys have been blowing the fuck up over the past year or so! Did all of that success put much pressure on you while you were making this album?
Nah. I guess you’re not really thinking about it, because naturally, while that success is happening, you’re just writing songs at the same time. We’ve always said, like, the time that we’ll stop playing in the band is when it stops being fun. I don’t know, I don’t think we put any pressure on ourselves. We don’t set ourselves up to fail like that, because it’s all just for fun anyway. We did work pretty hard on this album though—we’re more proud of it than anything we’ve ever done.
Why did it take four EPs before you decided to make that leap and do a full-length album?
It’s pretty expensive, recording and stuff, so we’d only have a couple of days to record, and we’d just do as much as we could. And when we thought about making an album, we wanted to make sure we were happy with where we were as a band—not just recording it because we could, putting it out and then looking back on it and hating the album. So I guess we were just trying to get better at recording, and making songs and stuff.
But also, we didn’t really even know how people were going to respond to those EPs. We just figured for the time that it would be better for us to just put out EPs—we did one EP that we weren’t even that psyched on, so we just made another one in another couple of months and toured that one instead. So when it came down to writing the album, we were like, ‘Yeah, alright.’ We never even thought we’d do an album—we figured we’d just keep putting out songs at random.
How did the creative process differ between the EPs and this album?
With the album, it was the first time we ever demoed the songs before we went in and recorded them. We spent a week out in Bucketty, at this ranch. Benny had, like, 60 songs, and I had a couple as well, so there was a lot of material. We went out to this ranch in the middle of nowhere—like, on the Central Coast, but out west—which ended up randomly being this guy that used to be the head of EMI’s place. He was friends with Lou Reed and stuff, so there were photos with him and Lou Reed and shit like that all over this crazy cowboy ranch.
And we just demoed with Jez from The Pinheads for a week—we must have recorded 20-something songs in that week. I think we recorded, like, 18 songs in the actual studio for the album, and then whittled it down to 15. But yeah, it was a big process. We wanted to put in that extra effort if we were going to actually do an album.
We’re just trying to write the tunes that everyone can either have fun to or feel something to.
How do you see this album coming to life onstage? Did you have the live show in mind when you were writing My Own Mess?
Fuck no. That’s some rockstar shit [laughs]. We’ve only just got a sound guy, like, on the last tour—before that, we’d never even had one. Y’know, anyone could be in a band like our band. We’re not trying to have any big production or anything like that. We’re just trying to write the tunes that everyone can either have fun to or feel something to. I’ve never even considered that to be a thing.
So you’re playing theatres on this album tour, but bringing a more lowkey, intimate vibe to them.
Yeah. I think that’s always been the plan for us, y’know? We don’t ever want to lose the connection that we have with the crowd. Because our songs are for everyone, y’know? It’s all-inclusive, and we need to have that sort of personal connection between ourselves and the crowd.
Alongside the usual 18+ shows, you’ve got a stack of underage and all ages shows on this tour. How important do you think it is to support those kinds of events?
It’s really important, because they’re not always on, and kids get real stoked when you put an under-18s show on. They’re always the ones going the hardest. And like I was saying, the tunes that we make aren’t for anyone in particular, so if young people want to come hang out, why wouldn’t we put the show on for them? And we went to a lot of live music when we were growing up, so I feel like it would be unfair to not continue the cycle.
How does the vibe differ between an under 18s Skegss show and an over 18s one?
They psych up pretty hard. Sometimes we can’t tell—there’s not much of a difference, really.
And just to wrap it all up, what’s one funny or interesting story, fun fact or piece of trivia you can give us about the making of My Own Mess?
When we were in the studio, we were living there for two weeks. We had a show on in Sydney, like, midway through it, and one time we drove back from Sydney that same night after the show—it would’ve been like, two or three in the morning, and we rung up Dylan [Adams, producer], got him out of bed and just tried to lay down a couple of tracks. We were pretty hammered, but we got one down. We called Dylan and said, “Yeah, we’re coming in hot! Fire up the desk! We’re ready!”
He said that we could record whenever we want, so we were just coming home after gigs and he was like, “Ah fuck, okay… Get me some fucking Maccas though.” That was the song Stop. If you listen to the album, that song is us just pissed, at four in the morning, jamming out while Dylan was hungover at the desk with some Maccas.
My Own Mess is out now via Ratbag / Warner