Three-piece Skegss are best known for their DIY, beer-drinking, rock ‘n’ roll antics, but what lies beneath it all? Ben Bograil (guitar / vocals) spoke to Samantha Morris about what appears to be a whirlwind career for Skegss. The band uploaded a track to triple j unearthed and before they knew it, they’d been added to lineups beyond their imagination and paraded before international music showcase audiences, before they’d even honed their stage show. Yet their ability to capitalize on their networks, show up and rock a crowd is reaping rewards.
“We’d only been playing as a band for six months,” Ben said of their original Unearthed win.
“When we got the call up we were tripping because we’ve all gone to Splendour and we know how big the stage is.”
“We had a show before Splendour at this pre-party. I got really drunk and couldn’t even tune my guitar properly and really blew our set and we were like ‘we can’t do that on the day’.
Thanks to that oversight, Ben says their Splendour set was a good one.
“They don’t open the gates until you start playing and then everyone is running down the field. I was just like tripping, I couldn’t even see, people were tripping over because it was so muddy. I’ll never forget that image of people running down the hill,” Ben said.
One assumes that winning unearthed and scoring BIGSOUND showcases would open considerable doors, but Ben points out that Skegss were already touring the USA and pulling crowds before their ‘unearthing’ happened.
“The industry knows who we are now. Heaps of people ask that – how did your world change from Splendour? And kind of nothing did, because we were doing the same thing before it,” Ben explained.
Despite their relatively young careers, Skegss have toured Europe, America and Canada and played massive shows in South America and New Caledonia, including international music showcases, with much of the touring occurring off their own bat. They know how to party but the work gets done.
“We organised America by ourselves… I’d meet people and ask if they knew anyone who could get us gigs over there,” Ben told Blank Gold Coast, before going on to talk about recording at Converse Studios in New York, working with Sounds Australia for Canadian Music Week and scoring gigs in New Caledonia for St. Patricks’ celebrations. In Brazil, they partied and performed for some 500 people in a tiny shop in Rio.
“Sao Paulo is the hecticest city,” Ben said. “There’s like 22 million people there. There’s a skate park called The Square, it’s pretty famous. Right across the road we played in this underground warehouse, fully underground. 500 people rocked up.”
“And they had like the biggest rider, free booze for everyone at the party. It was so loose. We were playing a bit better then, so it was heaps of fun.”
They’ve also just returned from a tour of Europe.
“Europe was epic. We were able to work with a promoter over there and the dude from Brazil was able to get us a showcase at Primavera Pro and Primavera Sounds in Barcelona.”
“We were tripping. The first three shows in England sold out before we got there. We didn’t think we’d be playing to anyone.”
“It makes you realise when you’re over the other side of the world and people are coming, that it’s real,” Ben said.
Skegss signed to Dune Rats’ label Ratbag Records for their debut EP ’50 Pushups for a Dollar’ in 2015 and they’ve released an EP every year since then. The party band knows how to work. On top of touring both Europe and Australia this year they’re also working on their first album.
“We’re always writing songs,” Ben said. “We’re going to try and maybe get a house for a week and try to nut out a few more.”
“We’re just going to slowly get that done and release it so we can tour everywhere again.”
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Skegss hit MMVAF alongside Alison Wonderland, The Presets, Bernard Fanning, Gang of Youths, Horrorshow, Northeast Party House on 26 August 2017.