50 Pushups for a Dollar: The SKEGSS Interview

image003-1It’s a bright sunny morning as I gaze out the window in a trance, waiting to be connected with Benny from SKEGSS, who tells me he’s in Taree (country NSW) helping his Dad fix someone’s house up. Despite momentum building for his band, Benny happily carries on with his normal life. And I learn from speaking with him, that keeping things pretty much as they’ve always been, is a key ingredient in what makes the band happy.

It takes a few minutes for me to adjust to Benny’s manner of speaking. Everything’s either ‘mad’, ‘sick’ or ‘hell legit’ – you needn’t feign surprise – he IS in a band called SKEGSS. Once my ear adjusts to his vocab, my scribbled notes start to make sense, instead of just resembling cave paintings.

I start by asking Benny where his name Ben Ben Bograil comes from. “Where do I start? Toby started calling me Ben Ben one day. I don’t know if you’ve heard of John John Florence, he was a champion surfer. Anyway it was a dumb name but it stuck…and Bograil is from, you know, when you do a turd… [trails off with some incoherent explanation]. Benny tells me that life has pretty much stayed the same since his band won Triple J’s Unearthed competition.

“We’ve just kept on playing. I guess more people know about us now, but it’s been the same. Exactly the same.”


As winners of Unearthed, SKEGSS were invited to play a show at Splendour In The Grass. I ask him what it was like. “Splendour was crazy! Unreal. Being out and seeing that amphitheatre set up – it was enormous! So much fun – the drinks, the crowd. I’d never really been nervous until that performance.”

The band recently toured their single Fun. I check if they’re enjoying all the madness or needing an honest to goodness lay down. “When we did the Fun tour, it was crazy the whole time – so much fun and no down times! The shows are getting crazier – it was our first proper tour as headliners in proper music venues, so it felt legit and surreal. It was sick. Even at the all ages festival, we thought that no one would want to watch us, because we’re were the 2nd band for the day, but there were so many young kids there, singing along.”

“When we did the Fun tour, it was crazy the whole time – so much fun and no down times! The shows are getting crazier – it was our first proper tour as headliners in proper music venues, so it felt legit and surreal. It was sick.” 


When I ask if he gets homesick on tour, Benny tells me that it’s too much to think about it. Then, he says, “I guess I do sometimes, like to just sit down for a cup of tea and piece of toast. Simple times. But, [as a band] we  know that not many people get to do it, so we just try and lap it up as much as we can, and just enjoy being home when we get there. Best of both worlds, really.”

Do SKEGSS have any stalkers yet? Benny chuckles “…there’s this one kid who does linger. I mean he’s a legend, really, a frother who hangs out after nearly every single show taking selfies with the band. It’s a bit weird, but nah it’s cool. If it got hectic, it might be a bit weird, what can you do?”


The band recorded their 50 Pushups for a Dollar EP at Rubber Tracks Converse Music Studio. I ask him about the process. “It was pretty sick. We were stoked we got to do it. It’s a hell legit studio. We’re not normally very good with that side of things – the team there made us feel at ease and so it wasn’t daunting. We were stoked to get our EP done – we thought we’d only get to record Fun, but we just recorded some stuff live and powered through it. We were able to then spend time mixing.”


I ask Benny what it’s like being signed to their friends’ record label, Ratbag Records, and whether SKEGSS + The Dunerats have managed any legendary record label parties yet? He seems to be day dreaming while answering, “No. No record label parties yet, but they’re coming. It’s been sick man, just makes it way fun. Lots of bands take it all so seriously. We just want to play to people as no-one special that they can sing along with – be normal”.


“Lots of bands take it all so seriously. We just want to play to people as no-one special that they can sing along with – be normal”. 


Given Ben Ben Bograil’s latest lyrical efforts for the Eat It single, where he sings about all the food in the world that he wants to eat, I perform a quick food quiz;


What’s your favourite light snack? “Sushi. That makes me feel light.”
Post booze pleasure? “Kebab or Burrito. Either one of those. It doesn’t really matter at that time of morning. They’re like the same thing.”
Fancy food, say if someone else was buying? “Probably haloumi at an Italian restaurant.”


I tell Benny that Fun is easy to like because it sounds just like California surf music. When asked if it’s a freak coincidence, he says, “I mean, I do like Beach Boys and all the happy punk sounds. I used to call it jolly punk music, but now I call it comic punk. I love happy music and telling stories. I guess I do surf and love that happy, beach summer sound, so yeah.”


The name of the band’s EP 50 Push Ups for a Dollar has me intrigued. “After our first show in downtown LA, we were hanging out front of the venue. There were loads of bums scrounging for money. This one guy yelled out, “Fried chicken! Fried chicken! 50 push ups for a dollar!” I gave him the money, but I didn’t make him do any push ups. When it came time to name the EP, it just came to me. We didn’t want to overthink it.”


To a band like SKEGSS, I wonder if image comes in to play or whether they’d just laugh about it and not give it a thought. Benny tells me that they dress themselves.


“Toby’s girlfriend might cut his fringe if it’s getting too long, but that’s about the extent of it.”


In a world so obsessed with image related self-absorption and overproduction, it’s actually sweet relief to have bands like SKEGSS in the business. Sincerely happy guys with clear, very good objectives – to write and perform comic punk music that people want to sing along to. They’re not pretending anything.

The 50 Push Ups for a Dollar EP is out now.

SKEGSS is 24 year old bass guitarist Toby Cregan, 23 year old Jonny ‘Layback’ Lani on drums and vocalist and guitarist Benny Reed aka Ben Ben Bograil.
Get to know SKEGSS in their home video:


Now Listen:
Check for SKEGSS tour dates here
Listen to 50 Push Ups for A Dollar on Spotify 
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