The ice covered windscreens start to disappear, the sun accompanies you on your drive to work and lingers around to see you home, pops of colour appear in your garden and the air fills with a fresh, floral fragrance. Mosquito repellent resurfaces from the back of the bathroom vanity along with the Zyrtec for the victims of Hay fever. It can only mean one thing in Australia: ‘Spring Has Sprung’.
If those indicators weren’t enough of a reminder, our favourite surf/garage rock trio from Byron Bay, Skegss, are waving the Spring flag high in the form of a 40 minute eargasm. Their highly anticipated debut album, ‘My Own Mess’, released through Ratbag Records, is out tomorrow (Friday 7 September) and provides the perfect soundtrack to welcome the warmer weather.
‘My Own Mess’ is anything but a mess. It feels familiar yet entirely fresh all at once perhaps due to the mix of classic surf rock and stoner rock that is has been showcased throughout Skegss discography.
“I feel like it’s taken on a thing of its own where we’re not trying to sound like anything, we’re just trying to make tunes and it’s a good collaborative thing where Benny will show us one thing and we’ll work on it,” bassist Toby Cregan says. “Jon, Benny and I will work on it together and make it sound like something we all like.”
Fans and critics seem to be liking the new tunes too having already been introduced to singles ‘Up In The Clouds’ and ‘Smogged Out’ which have both been on high rotation on triple j and community radio over the last couple of months. The station has also been drip feeding preview tracks from ‘My Own Mess’ this week with it being honoured the triple j Feature Album.
“It’s our first album so I think it’s kind of easy for us. So we don’t have any expectations which works in our favour. I think we’ve always done that really; we’ve never put too much pressure on ourselves,” Toby laughs. “We just let it come out naturally.”
Opening with ‘Up In The Clouds’ the three chord guitar intro automatically plunges listeners into a good mood that remains steady throughout the record. You can’t help but want to get in the car and go down to the coast with friends with song titles like ‘Road Trip’, ‘Paradise’ and ‘Margarita’, and the surf-driven tone to match. Rounding off the record are campfire style singalongs ‘Need To Do’, title track ‘My Own Mess’, and ‘My Mind’. It’s no wonder then that much of the songwriting process took place post holidays and touring for the lads.
“I think the thing that makes me probably the most keen to write songs is being on the road and then coming home; whenever I write songs it’s when I’ve gotten home from somewhere or I’ve just done something. It’s usually when I’ve been away and I’ve taken in everything, I get back and straight away the first thing I do when I get home is pick up the guitar and play a couple of chords and try to make up a melody and say whatever the fuck I feel like,” says Toby.
The 15 track album, dwindled down from a 60 song catalogue, follows the success of their 2017 EP, ‘Holiday Food’ which earned them a triple j Hottest 100 nod for ‘Got On My Skateboard’. ‘My Own Mess’ mirrors the simplistic storytelling lyricism and infectious melodic hooks of the former, with a carefully crafted and consistent collection of tunes.
“We always write songs, all the time, like any time of the day,” says frontman and guitarist Ben Reed.
“Yeah not just in the evenings [laughs]. We’re allowed to do it whenever we want”, Toby interjects.
“So we just tried to write as many songs as we could, for the first time ever, narrowed it down a bunch and demoed them,” continues Ben. “We were out at this house in a place called Bucketty. We rented this house out for five days and worked on it. We’ve never worked on the songs so much.”
“I guess we’ve never had as many songs as what we had, like more than we can remember. We’ve been saying it’s 60. It would have been at least that many songs that Benny would have demoed and then [he] showed me on the phone, just like texting it to me because we were living away from each other at the time. Then once we got that done we went and demoed with Jeremy from Pinhead, our friend there, and like Benny said, that’s the first time we did that [demoed] and we narrowed all of those songs down to I think it was like 20 that we liked or something and then we demoed the 20 and dwindled that down again once we got in the studio to record. We listened to all of the recordings and picked which ones we liked,” reiterates Toby.
With a cameo appearance from triple j alumni, Alex the Astronaut, who also joined them on stage at Splendour in the Grass recently, this album is a product of collaboration, hard work and fun.
“It just took longer than anything we had ever done and we just tried as hard as we could and had heaps of fun in the studio. We never used to go into recording because we had never done it much but working with Jez [Jeremy from Pinhead] we got more comfortable doing it. We had two weeks, so lots of time to record all of the songs so we were just having heaps of fun.”
Coming off of that epic set at Splendour In The Grass, the boys will be hitting the road, embarking on the ‘My Own Mess National Tour’ with shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle and Perth. This will be followed by an extensive UK and European tour, hitting up an additional 18 cities.
“We’ve always just wanted to try and play as many shows as we could and I think sometimes doing that and keeping yourself really proactive and doing that as much as you can, can help build that fan base,” says Ben.
The shows have been selling out like hot jam donuts at a Sunday market for the Australian leg. Melbourne sold out the Croxton within a day of release as did Sydney and Brisbane, all three receiving second show announcements.
“It’s kind of for everyone our music- it doesn’t really pigeon hole… I think that’s why our shows have sold out, everyone is welcome there. We’ve got so much support along the way, even from having Twin Peaks on the tour and all of our friends just backing us up. It feels good to be going out on the road again, that’s for sure.”
Chicago bred indie rockers, Twin Peaks, known for hits such as ‘Making Breakfast’, ‘Wanting You’ and ‘Shake Your Lonely’, are making their way down under to join the boys on this tour; a lineup that has been in the works for quite some time.
“We’ve always been fans of them! We did hit them up years ago and they never got back to us and finally they’ve come through. Can’t wait to meet those guys! We’ve seen them once playing in Canada and just thought they were awesome so we’ve always wanted to get them to come over.”
SCABZ, the self-proclaimed ‘shittest band out of Newtown, NSW’ will be an additional support to the Australian leg of the tour, but if that solid lineup of artists doesn’t make you say “Take My Money”, then knowing it’s for a good cause will. Skegss have partnered with PLUS1 to donate $1 per ticket sold to the Mark Hughes Foundation for brain cancer research, a cause that is close to home.
“We’ve had some friends’ parents that brain cancer has affected, even some of the people in our team,” says Toby. “PLUS1 help pick the best charity for people to go with so they helped us do that and they thought it was perfect for us.”
Snap up your ticket to see the boys energetic live set before you miss out, and while you’re at it also head to the Skegss webshop to preorder your copy of ‘My Own Mess’ on CD and on vinyl in vibrant yellow (complete with a 28 page zine designed by unofficial fourth member Jack Irvin), and check out the limited edition merch bundles they have on offer.
For now it’s time to recruit your friends and start planning a weekend ‘Road Trip’ down to the coast to ‘have a Margarita’ and veg out in ‘Paradise’. Skegss have your car playlist sorted!
Release: ‘My Own Mess’, released through Ratbag Records, is out tomorrow (Friday 7 September)
When & Where: Croxton, Melbourne – October 20 & October 21 (Under 18s).
Written by Tammy Walters