Skegss bassist Toby Cregan is feeling flustered. “Benny’s not here,” he says, excusing the tardiness of his bandmate Ben Reed for their interview with the BRAG. It’s no big deal, but his franticness can be forgiven – Skegss have spent so much time on the road together lately, they’re practically joined at the hip.
The Byron Bay punk trio have just wrapped up a national tour supporting their labelmates Dune Rats, an enterprise that was well-documented on social media. The two bands’ respective summer jams gripped the nation and hinted at a promise of more touring to come, and when Reed finally joins our conversation, he’s looking forward to a fresh run of shows overseas before Skegss return to Australia for headline dates of their own.
“Sorry, I was just doing some shit,” the frontman says by way of introduction.
“Bloody idiot,” Cregan laughs. “He didn’t realise this was a thing he actually had to do!”
The post-tour downtime has given Skegss the chance to reflect on what’s been a busy 2017 so far. “This is relaxing time,” Cregan says. “It was pretty much the most back-to-back tour you could do in Australia. Like, how many shows did we play, Benny?”
“13 in 16 days,” Reed replies.
“Maybe even more than that,” says Cregan, “because we were playing our own shows, doing our own gigs too. I swear every tour has been like – I don’t know, we always end up saying, ‘That was the craziest one!’ I can’t remember in detail a lot of shit.
“One big thing I do remember: the first show in Perth was the biggest venue we’ve ever played and I was like to the boys, ‘Let’s just go out and try and be these muso dudes who are like, plug in and play,’ but when we walked up on the stage, I couldn’t hold myself back from screaming at everyone – like, ‘What the fuck? This is crazy!’ Just seeing so many people there, it gave me shivers, chills.”
And the party isn’t over. Skegss released their new EP Holiday Food last week, and they’re taking their seasonal sounds to the Northern Hemisphere in time for the warmer European weather. “[It’s] our first time over there – I’m gonna be pretty excited the whole time,” says Reed. “The shows will definitely be smaller for sure.”
“Yeah, excited and drinking beers the whole time!” Cregan says. “The shows will be shit – no one will know who we are,” he laughs. “But like, it doesn’t matter. I don’t know, it’s just amazing to get to play new places. We’ve always just tried to play as many different places as we can and not even necessarily play the places that bands ‘should’ do. If an opportunity arises where it’s somewhere we wanna do, we’ll just do that. Holidays. Just go on holidays and, I dunno, experience the culture, bro!”
Cregan’s statement provokes another round of laughter. It’s clear to us all what their real plan is. “Definitely test out beers and bars, that’s pretty much all I mean,” he says. “If someone offers to put you on a plane to play a gig, you fucking may as well do it.”
I feel like half the reason we’re in the band is so we can all hang out and have a few beers and a laugh, you know?
It’s suggested to Skegss that their ‘why not?’ approach to touring might double as a great way to build their fan base around the world, but their motives are much simpler. “You’ve already thought about it more than us on the phone right now,” Reed says. “We’ve never even thought about it like that – we just think it’ll be fun to go play some shows.”
“We care if people want us to play there, of course,” adds Cregan. “But if someone is like, ‘Oh, come play a show wherever,’ it’s like, ‘Fuck it, we want to do that.’ It’s not like we’re doing only what we wanna do [either]. Like, if people in France were like, ‘Come play a show in France,’ and we can do that, then we’ll fucking try and do that.”
Suddenly, the discussion is put on hold – all this talk of overseas touring has interrupted Cregan and Reed’s chance to catch up after a few days apart. See what we mean about them being joined at the hip?
“What have you been doing, Benny?” Cregan asks.
“Man, I was so past it this week,” Reed replies.
“Man, I was so depressed on Tuesday or whatever!” says Cregan. “Like, I had to lay down on the lounge all day. Fucking hell, that was a heavy night, hey?”
The message is clear: Skegss aren’t just three musicians who perform together, but with drummer Jonny Lani, they’re the greatest of friends; brothers in arms. And it helps to remain down to earth when the real world beckons on a daily basis.
“Jonny is a stonemason by trade, so he builds rock walls and stuff,” says Cregan.
“And a casual oyster shucker,” adds Reed.
“Yeah,” says Cregan. “He’s a casual oyster shucker as well because he has some oysters that he farms. That’s what most bands do, I’m pretty sure, in their spare time – be oyster shuckers!”
For all the shits and giggles, Skegss know there’s no way to advance their dreams without the means to do so – and that means doing the hard work and maintaining a commitment to their craft. “It’s good to keep yourself busy all the time, just keep going and going,” says Reed.
Cregan agrees. “I’m one of those people that doesn’t like having time to kill, because… well, I like chilling of course, but there’s a lot of spare time when you’re in a band as well. Like, there’s heaps of travelling, but then there’s the weeks off, you know? If you can do [productive] stuff in that four days you have off, then you may as well do it. And we don’t make enough money in the band to live – all the money we make from shows, we put back into the band so we can do more. So we can go on these holidays!
“Even if we weren’t getting paid, we’d still be playing shows – that’s why we started it. It is about the music, but I feel like half the reason we’re in the band is so we can all hang out and have a few beers and a laugh, you know? And then the other half is the satisfaction you get from making songs you like, high-fiving when you’ve finished recording, feeling like you’ve accomplished something.”
Holiday Food is out now through Ratbag/Warner. See Skegss at Oxford Art Factory on Thursday June 15 and Friday June 16. For more info visit skegss.com.