Tobes in 100% rocker mode, barnstorming the Dunies set at Splendour in the Grass to chug every last drop of marrow from life. (Photo: Courtesy of Mitch Lowe Photo/SaveTonight)

How Skegss Bass Lord Toby Cregan Tore 2017 A Newie

Long time readers of Surfing World know all too well how much we love Toby Cregan. His journey from spawn of Australian surf royalty (his old man Brian is one of Australia’s all time great surfers as well as founder of Ocean & Earth), into a lauded surf film career (that includes much loved hits like Nix Nic Nooley, Real Axe, Ferrari Boys, Scorched and the hard as nails Rage edits) and right through into his latest incarnation as as one third of kick-ass pop punk rock and rollers Skegss, it’s clear that Tobes is a man who takes every opportunity that comes with his with mucho gusto and a trademark wild cackle.

SW: When’s the last time you had nothing on your plate?
TC: Well last week was the first in a very long time that I could have been chilling but then, I can’t say I’ve been working my arse off when you just saw me riding my skatey out the front.

Sure, but you’re juggling band tours with your film work… that’s gotta be full on right?
They compliment each other in a weird way. Touring recharges my amp to shoot videos. When I get home that’s the first thing I’ll do. I don’t make videos because it’s my job, it’s because I really love making vids. When I got home from the last Skegss tour the waves were ok and I was filming the first day I got back, just because I felt like it. It works both ways – heaps of filming gets me pumped for playing gigs one hundred per cent. The reason it works is because I treat the gigs like they’re my holiday. That’s what I want to do for fun, but at the same time, I don’t really like to chill for too long. I can’t sit still and do nothing. A couple of weeks of the year I love having that time to hang out with my girlfriend, but other than that I try to be productive.

Do you think consistency is important for a creative person?
I guess everyone works differently but that’s how I do it. I do as much as I possibly can. I always bite off more than I can chew. I’ll just ‘whatever’ it, and then try and do everything all at once and it turns into a big shit show and you get crazy stressed. That’s probably not a good way to work, but I worry about missing out on fun stuff. If there’s a trip happening and it’s an opportunity for me and it could be fun, I’m gonna have a crack at it.

It’s hard to say ‘no’ when everything’s epic, isn’t it?
Yeah exactly! I don’t want to miss out on a sick surf trip, and I don’t wanna miss out on playing shows because they are super fun as well. So that’s what I’m trying to do all at once.

Do you ever try to connect the two? Like maybe with Skegss music videos?
Yeah. I got Mikey Mallalieu to shoot the Spring is Sprung clip while I was in Hawaii. See that’s just another part of the juggling act, trying to get those guys together, make Chunny hook up with all these bush doof chicks, while I’m working overseas on a surf trip.

So direct some of these projects while you’re the road?
It’s just sharing ideas on Facebook messager really (laughs).

What do you think about the future of music videos?
Well it’s making people act really… It’s kinda whack because videos are becoming a bit ‘meme-y’. Everyone’s trying to go “viral” (gestures with quotation marks). Forget that. The video clips I’ve made for the band have always been simple. I don’t like anything that’s too conceptual, calling it a film clip is about as conceptual as I’ll get. If you watch them, one thing is happening, then cut to footage of us sitting around being bums.

I guess that’s more true to the music?
(Sarcastic voice) Yeah I suppose it’s aimed towards the aesthetic of the… Bullshit! (Laughs). Everyone creates their work differently, but I don’t like to complicate or confuse a good simple idea.

Are you pretty protective of your own work?
For sure. I’m kind of a control freak like that. When we were talking to the record label, they said, “We can get someone to make videos for you.” And the whole time I was thinking, “Ahhhh, I’m gonna hate that.” It was like they wanted to market us? I hate that, I don’t need anyone to market me.

Is it bizarre to think that you living your life is a commodity to them? That they want to sell it as something ‘marketable’?
Yes. And if we’re talking about the band, the golden rule is please don’t market anything we do. You always try to be your own person, putting yourself out there on your own terms. And that’s my worst fear, to see something that you’re involved with creatively getting pushed in a certain direction by someone else. You’d be so pissed off.  That’s why I do it myself, because that’s the only way I’ll be satisfied. Which means looking at the finest details, in anything that has your name to it. It’s an absolute necessity or else you lose all your integrity and become a big mooshy idiot who hates yourself.

So authenticity has a place even though marketing departments have pretty much sucked every last possible drop of meaning from the word?
I think you’ve blown it the second you think about being authentic or not. Don’t think about it. Stop pretending and there will never be a problem.

Who’s a band that you’d love to call out on that?
I mean there are certain bands who pretend to be so rock ‘n roll, but I dunno man. I don’t even need to call someone out because you can see it for yourself. I don’t need to say that some band are a bunch of kooks because the people that I care about already know.

The editor’s favourite photo on Instagram ever.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t ever think about that.

Do you think it’s a case of blowing it if you think outside the moment?
I dunno. Five years will come. Don’t worry about it.

If you could wind back the clock, what advice would you give to the younger you?
I’ve read this one before.

That was hypothetical, this time I mean it.
It’s a ripsnorter of a question… But I don’t reckon I’d tell myself anything because even all the dumb… (thinks about it) Ok yeah, I’d tell myself a few things… Just a few key moments not to do some stuff…

Such as?
Ohhh dude… Nah, because if you go in and stop those messed up things from happening then maybe you’d be a different person, you know? That’s a big combo. I’ve got heaps of regrets but I wouldn’t tell myself about them. There’s only one way to figure it out for yourself.

What about positives? Like “Imagine if I knew then what I know now?” Any advice there?
If I could tell myself one thing, I’d just tell the 12-year-old me that you’re going to be ok. So I wouldn’t have to worry about the teenage years. Everything works out. I don’t know if this is a weird or heavy statement, but I always had the thought that there was no way I’d make it to my twenties.

Because you were moving so fast?
Yeah, and because I had some crazy anxiety and stuff anyway. I’ve always worried a bit.

It’s a good thing to acknowledge and talk about. So many people suffer in silence.
Oh it is for sure. And I have the best time ever now because of that. I don’t get as rattled like I used to. Everyone has those feelings at times, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you feel nervous or anxious about things, no matter how big or small they might seem. I know how to handle it now and I keep busy.

Who taught you to film?
I taught myself from the Internet. I moved to Byron to go to film school but I ended up working for Tracks magazine, I did one video and I thought, “Ah forget it, I’m not going to film school.”

How old were you then?
19. I did a bunch of surf comp work for Surfing NSW and Ocean & Earth. A lot of the dudes who I film now were in those grom comps. That was pretty funny. Guys like Kai Hing.

Long time Cregan collaborator and full time anti-corp biz partner Noa Deane rocking the fruits of the boys purple labour, also known as full deck Rage pads. (Shield)

What’s one piece of work you’ve been really happy with in the last 12 months?
The Rage 1 video. We weren’t touring as much and like I said sometimes I need to get rejuvenated and make movies. All the companies I work for are pretty cool with letting me do whatever I want, but if I have to show someone something before it goes live it just hurts my arse. So that’s why we started Rage, so we can do whatever we want. It’s a pretty straightforward surf video with a bit of a grungy soundtrack.

What are some of the influences there?
It’s really a collaborative thing with the boys. If it was up to me, the surf video would only be people talking the whole time but yeah I’d say the Rage movie has got me the most stoked out.

The soundtrack works so well with all those raw cuts. Who’s call was that?
Yeah Noa picked the Nirvana track, Creedo picked DRI. I grew up listening to punk shit, that’s all I would listen to. When I was 16 I played in a punk band called Rank Hotel.

Great name.
Yeah. We all grew up listening to all kinds of different shit. On the trip for that clip we were listening to that Nirvana album heaps. I think we made the call to use the song while we were driving. That was Deanie’s idea obviously ‘cause he’s heaps into grunge.

Growing up in a manufacturing environment must’ve been a good launching pad for kicking off your own label. Did you pick up a few things from your old man along the way?
Yeah. I worked for my Dad for five years so I was fully hands on with Ocean & Earth. It was good to learn how every aspect of a business fits together. I worked in every department from manufacturing shit, like actually making products, to marketing and selling it. I guess you could say I learned all of it from my Dad. He taught me so much.

Noz & Creedo Rage-ing.

Was it liberating to be able to do it on your own terms for a change? Or stressful?
Both. I had Bart, this dude from Ocean & Earth help us with the original manufacturing specs, dealing with the factories and going back and forth there. But the boys designed the actual pads and graphics, what they look like, what they wanted to ride. We worked on it for two years before we had a product we were psyched on.

So you’ve been juggling that the whole way through touring and filming?
Pretty much.We came up with the Rage idea, the night before Noa said, “Fuck the WSL” while we were in Hawaii. That was when we decided to get it poppin’. It’s been so sick having a company with the boys where we can do whatever we want, no rules. And taking it slow too.

Certain things have been quick on the upswing though… Like the Rage 1 video, that went live super fast.
I guess we just wanted to come in hot, drop the video and have the grips ready to go all in one day. That was crazy. I was doing that while I was in Hawaii.

How was the launch at Bangas pub?
It was so sick! Free beers at my local? That was the best day of my life!

What’s your best ever party memory you’ll carry with you ‘til you’re old and grey?
We were full groms, when we scored the Triple J unearthed call up for Splendour which was unreal. We got so hammered after we played, having the most fun ever in the backstage zone.
We were the first band on the main stage. They don’t open the gates until ten minutes before you play. They wanted us to start playing early, so we started taking the piss, playing to an empty field, but it had been raining and as soon as they opened the gates everyone slid down the hill to try and get under cover. I looked over at Benny and we were just grinning our arses off. It was the first time I’d seen people so keen to watch our band, like some army of mud monsters running at us. I’ll remember that one forever. We’d only been playing for a year or so. We were bloody stoked backstage. I’ve never been more hyped. When the chick from Triple J called up I thought they were taking the piss.

“Thanks heaps ay!” Classic Tony sign off at Sydney’s metro theatre. Up the Skegssies!

How’s summer looking this year? Does the band have much happening after Sounds of The Suburbs?
I dunno man, that question belongs in the calendar in my phone. I wake up every day when we’re on tour and when I get excited it takes me a couple of seconds to realise where I am, and that I’m doing something fun, something I really love to do, and I get that pumped to jump out of bed and go for it. It’s hard to maintain that same level of excitement for the same thing when you do it day after day and still get pumped in the same way. That’s why I don’t give myself time to pre-empt stuff because I’m doing my favourite shit every day.

What excites you now? What’s left to tick off the list?
I guess you have to set yourself new goals. The band keeps surprising me every time we play. But I feel like I’ve peaked. Like my personal peak, I’ve got nothing to lose now. I’m just doing what I’m doing. I mean once Vaughano and Ozzie emailed me when I made the movie Nix Nic Nooley and said it was one of their favourite movies in forever. And those guys made Doped Youth which is my all time favourite movie, it was the biggest pat on the back I could’ve asked for and that’s when I stopped worrying. When someone like that tells you they like your shit it doesn’t matter if every other person in the world think it’s shit because I’ve won over the people I care about. Like recently people have been asking me how many views my videos have been getting and I couldn’t give one toss. I just want to do good by my heroes.

What about a new Skegss album? That’s gotta be up there right?
Yeah we’re working on a Skegss album at the moment, we’re still pumped on making new songs. Even when we got our first Ep pressed to 12 inch,it arrived in the mail and I almost cried because that was something I thought would never actually happen. I think we’re going to do demos with Jezza from The Pinheads and go from there, dunno yet, we’re still figuring it out. We’ve got almost 60 songs so we’ve gotta record a bunch of them, listen back and see if any of them are good, probably show them to some mates like Brett from the Dunies and stuff. See what they reckon.

It must be pretty sick bouncing ideas off people like that…
It’s always been pretty collaborative, if not on a creative level at least in playing shows with our mates. We have such a good crew, from all over the country. There’s a good bunch of bands that are poppin’ off right now, who are all on the same level and are good mates of ours. Bands like Hockey Dad. I think Dumb Punts have always been like the glue that holds everyone together because they always let everyone stay at their house when bands play Melbourne shows. There’re probably 20 bands or more in that zone.

Like a new mate in every town you play?
Kinda yeah, and it’s about being supportive of each other. I find overseas so many bands treat it like a competition but there’s none of that in the Australian scene right now. People love music and it’s so much easier to help each other out. It’s given each of us a leg up because we can share fans with everyone. There’s always new bands coming up who we think are legends that we’ll invite on tour. That’s the best thing about it.

Like a new mate in every town you play?
Kinda yeah, and it’s about being supportive of each other. I find overseas so many bands treat it like a competition but there’s none of that in the Australian scene right now. People love music and it’s so much easier to help each other out. It’s given each of us a leg up because we can share fans with everyone. There’s always new bands coming up who we think are legends that we’ll invite on tour. That’s the best thing about it.

Who gave Skegss their first leg up?
Dumb Punts. They gave us our first support gig in Melbourne. Probably playing to 20 people. And that was huge for us. They showed us a new level of camaraderie and from that we thought playing in a band was the sickest thing ever. I mean we’re playing to 20 people so it’s pretty much them watching us and us watching them, you know what I mean? But it’s that much fun. So many other bands have helped us out as well, like obviously Dune Rats and The Pinheads.

A lot of these bands you have mentioned walk the path of independent or self produced labels. As a founder of a rouge surf brand, do you see any parallel there? Would you ever jump into your own records?
There’s always going to be that freedom when you create something for yourself. As far as the band goes, we’re on Ratbag label, and we don’t have to deal with too much industry stuff. It works out well, they help us make records, we get to play shows. But you can’t listen to anything a major label has to tell ya, because the whole reason they’re talking, if they were talking, is because they want to buy your credibility. I dunno man about labels man, who give a toss about anything?

Is it true Shaun Manners lived in your laundry?
Yeah I’ve always had surfy dudes living in weird parts of my house. Creed used to live in my attic.

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Hugh Wyllie