It’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.”
“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”.
“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.