“It’s going to be fun to really try to shape a collection of songs into one kind of theme, we’ve been tinkering pretty hard.”
Garage rock, punk, and psychedelic music have been thriving in Australia for quite a few years. Amyl and the Sniffers from Melbourne bring an unbridled amount of energy wherever they perform and the Chats from the Sunshine Coast have a similar approach.
Then there are the hippied-out grooves of the Babe Rainbow from Byron Bay and also Skegss from the same town blending surf and garage rock together for a wicked cool sound.
The latter will perform at the Paradise on Nov. 22 as part of their North American tour that’s currently underway. Local indie rock act Trophy Wife will start off the show at 8pm.
I spoke with guitarist and vocalist Ben Reed ahead of the gig about a couple tracks the band released this year, making a music video on the fly, getting cereal for Christmas, and preparing to work on new music next year.
Back in February, Skegss released the singles “Stranger Days” and “December.” Where were the songs recorded and who did the cover art for both singles with all the bright colors and stuff?
Jack Irvine did the cover art, he’s kind of our band artist. He does pretty much all of our band art these days. We just send him the songs, he listens to them and he just draws as he’s listening to the tracks. It’s whatever he’s feeling that he transcribes from it into his own art and stuff, that’s what he reckons. We went into the studio just to do a demo session to see what we could come up with and get tracks to work on to see if anything came of it.
We had a couple that we didn’t need to change up too much so we picked those two just to put out at that time. It was just after the pandemic so we thought we’d just bring some fresh tunes out so we could play some gigs again with some new music.
That makes total sense. The music video for “Stranger Days” has your drummer Jonny Lani training for a marathon with you and bassist Toby Cregan refueling him with beers and it ends with Jonny passing out in front of an audience during a show. Who had the idea for the video and how long did it take to shoot the various shots? Was it all done over a few weeks?
That was Jonny’s idea. I think sometimes with our music videos generally in the past it’s come down to me or Toby thinking about what we have in mind. Sometimes when it’s your own song you don’t really have a vision for it or whatever, but this time Jonny said that it could be something funny with him running. We kind of just winged it, we didn’t really have a plan because sometimes it can be hard to always come up with film clip ideas. We just improvised as we went along but Jonny committed to it, he did a lot of the running on his own with Jamieson [Kerr] who did the filming.
We were trying to come up with a way to end it so we decided to utilize the show because it was a sort of finish line. It worked but it was pretty unplanned, Jonny just stayed in his outfit and went onto the stage the day after we did the filming and it kind of worked out. Otherwise, it would have been just him running and it would have finished like that.
It’s funny that it ended with him on stage at a show, I enjoyed it. How many beers did you go through during the making of the video? Was it just a six-pack that you guys had?
Jonny is pretty good at putting the beers down, I think he even had a few in between when he was waiting. I’m not sure, you’d have to ask him. I don’t know if he kept a tally, but it was probably more than a couple. Definitely more than what looked evident.
Musically, “Stranger Days” seems to be very melodic and raw sounding while “December” seems to have more of a pop-driven vibe. What would you say inspired the musical direction of both songs?
There’s definitely more of a melodic vibe in “Stranger Days” and I think when Jonny had that heavy kick fading into it, it gave the song a bit of a bump without doing too much. That just worked out where it felt right with Jonny kicking the kick drum pretty hard with the melodics in the chorus and we didn’t have to add too much more to it, it had that thickness without having to add things. With “December,” it’s definitely a novelty song but it’s still very sentimental. It doesn’t directly represent Christmas but it’s still about that time of year. In the little town I grew up in, it’s the nicest time of year because it’s summer and everyone has clocked off of work for a couple of weeks.
It’s a novelty song being a bit like an ode to that time of year and seeing friends and family. While it felt novelty, it was kind of fun to put a Casio disco beat behind it and sort of ride the novelty side of it to have a little fun with that because we’d never really done that with a song before.
I definitely get the novelty aspect of it. With “December” being kind of a love letter to Christmas, that holiday is coming up. Before we know it, it’ll be upon us so what’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever gotten?
I’m pretty sure one year my parents got me a subscription to Mad Magazine for a whole year. I was pretty pumped for that because it felt like I was getting something new every month and there’s cereal as well. I remember my mom used to just fill my stocking up with cereal and Betty Crocker cake mix or cookie mix. Do you guys have Betty Crocker in America?
Yeah, we do. We have Betty Crocker here.
I used to get that for Christmas, just randomly. I kind of liked it.
You can make some good brownies with Betty Crocker.
Yeah, you can make good brownies or cookies.
With both “Strange Days” and “December” being out, can we expect them to be part of a new album that’ll be out sometime next year or do you guys plan on starting fresh next time you head into a studio to record? What can we expect from Skegss in the future when it comes to new music?
We’re starting fresh. We got a few new songs that are doing their own thing, those two tracks just felt right to put out at that time but I don’t think they’ll be on the album. It’s going to be fun to really try to shape a collection of songs into one kind of theme, we’ve been tinkering pretty hard and it’s been really good. We’re just going to keep on collecting songs and thinking about new ones. It’s nice when you’ve had a bit more time to make a few more so you can take some out and replace them with fresher ones, time has been on our side at the moment which is great for what we’re working on.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.