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Mat McHugh of The Beautiful Girls is headed to Cairns


We had a chat with Mat McHugh the driving force behind The Beautiful Girls to talk about his upcoming album and regional tour including Cairns…

Where are you talking to us from today?

I’m in the studio putting together some bits and pieces for the live show, getting ready to get on the road. I use a lot of weird loop pedals and all kinds of things in my show when I play solo so I’m getting back into that frame of mind after spending all this time making the record.

Tell us about your new album?

It was recorded half between my place and half between my friends Ian Richards place in his garage. This is where I have recorded all The Beautiful Girls records and all of my records; I have pretty much recorded anywhere else.
There is never really any exotic story…I never jet off and go to some expensive recording studio in Berlin or anything we just chip away at it making records out of the garage really.

What’s your song writing process like?

There kind of isn’t really one in particular it just depends, the whole process melds in an endlessly infuriating and fascinating way in equal measure…If I knew how to do it and how to work it out I would be bored of it by now. Some songs I’ll come up with the idea for a bass line, a drum beat, a lyric or a chorus will start it off. Basically anything musical subject wise that I haven’t covered or done before if it interests me then I follow that down the rabbit hole and see what happens. It’s all a little mysterious because I try and not to overthink it and just follow one creative moment to the next and see what happens at the end.

I used to set aside time, I knew I would have something coming up so I would have to write and get down to work but I actually enjoy it, so as much as I can I will. I don’t really practice playing guitar or playing any instruments or singing or anything. I just like creating things whether it is a drawing or making songs so whenever I am able to I do _ But now I have a baby boy who is coming up on 1 and time is at a premium in my household…so I try and write when I can and when I am on the road I don’t really party much either so I just try and chill and write songs and just be ready for when inspiration strikes.

Is it more pressure as this is a solo album, just Mat McHugh you can’t really hide behind “The Beautiful Girls”?

No not really it’s probably the other way. Spooks I made by myself in my basement for about a year straight and I felt like I didn’t see anyone or talk to anyone musically for a long time and I just felt the pressure to make that album up to a certain level. Each album had been quite successful in our terms so I feel like I had to create something at that level.

Making records under one name or another there is no difference how they are made. Just releasing it under my name in a way I feel like it’s kind of easier There is no pressure no precedent it’s kind of just like “cool there’s a record, I just made it” – I don’t have to compete with Spooks which was No 1 on the independent charts- it was iTunes and did really well – so if there is another Beautiful Girls album then that will be in my mind as Mat McHugh…I don’t really have anything to match it up to so that’s kind of good.

So are The Beautiful Girls over or just having a bit of a rest?

The Beautiful Girls is me…the last few records I have played all the instruments and every part of the music that you hear on every single beautiful girls song was written by me and the last few albums it was played by me so people kind of get a bit too hung up on it really….I love the guys in the band to death….I don’t know what’s going to happen to them, I might just release all the records from now on under my own name and end up playing with the same guys I might go back and call it The Beautiful Girls and do another record and it won’t be any different to the way I just did this record you know it is all semantics to me.

There was a decision I had to come to on even how to release this one, whether it was going to be called Mat McHugh or The Beautiful Girls, I don’t want to concern myself with it too much I just want to keep it honest and interesting for me.
I see too many people just clock in for work when it comes to making music; they get to work and do what they have always done that is just creative death as far as I am concerned. Whatever I do I just want it to be interesting for myself.
What’s the sound and feel of this album?

There are kind of reggae elements I guess because I love that kind of music. My favourite music is early hip hop and late 6o’s dub music which has no lyrics really just heavy bass and drums. I love that feel of music but I also really love Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and stuff like that.

It is more acoustic this record and it’s not as directly built from a bassline like most of the more recent beautiful girls songs, these ones are built from an acoustic guitar and a vocal.

Some of them have a little reggae vibe but in the main it’s more a singer songwriter kind of record.

When and how will it be released?

It is going to be released very soon and I will be releasing it for free and there has been a lot of really great support online, people saying that they want to buy it and support me which I am very proud and happy about that if they want to do that so I have included that as an option.

I am an independent musician and I have a kid and bills to pay and all of that too. If anyone wants to get a physical copy they can but at the same time it is important for me that this record is able to be accessed by everybody.

So basically it will be two buttons on the website, one will give it to you instantly the other will be the CD in the mail.

The reason for this is I get disheartened with the way the music industry is heading and everyone is so worried about the bottom line and you just see bands go to major labels and major labels don’t sell albums anymore they just kind of sell singles that are turning into jingles. When I turn on the radio now and hear some of the stuff on commercial radio compared to what it was in the 60’s and 70’s when amazing stuff was on the radio …. I just wanted to give back to the spirit of the music and make music that I felt like I have put my heart and soul into you know and just to give it away….just here you go thanks for having me….it seemed important for me to do that.

Maybe this will switch people on to your music and they will come along to your live shows?

Yeah that would be cool too. I mean my job is playing music luckily and I kind of the way I have been able exist and pay rent and stuff over the past decade is by people coming to my shows all around the world.

When we made our first album 10 years ago I wanted to give that one away, I never felt that great about selling it and in selling music. You know I understand people covering the costs and then coming to a show and being part of an experience and that was cool but now I really like the idea of however many people get the album then burn it give it to their friends, if you like it yeah come and hang out come to the show and that makes the wheels spin.

It lets people decided for themselves too, they are not being force fed a marketing spiel, they don’t have to like something …if you like it…Cool, if you don’t like it,,,,Cool.
It’s your choice to make which I think is pretty nice too.

Is there going to be a vinyl copy?

There definitely is, they have taken a little bit longer to get done and make it all happen. I literally just finished the record and am trying to turn it around as quick as I can. I didn’t want to have six months or a year between when it was done and when it was out. I just did it and said that’s it lets just do it.

So the people I am working with and management, they are all running around like crazy right now trying to set up the web page and trying to get this crazy idea to work.
So vinyl is definitely a consideration I love vinyl more than anything I still collect vinyl records so it will happen for sure and you will be able to order it online and have it mailed to you. We will also have them at the shows depending on where the shows are on.

Vinyl is insane, the greatest thing now with music apparently in America is CD’s are getting phased out and a lot of people are downloading music but vinyl sales are going through the roof because it’s nice to have something physical and tangible in your hands, look at the artwork and all of that stuff, it’s all important.

It sounds good man people forget in the Mp3 download generation, mp3’s are cool and you get the point of what the song is trying to get across but then they lack a little in sound quality just by being compressed and made small so they can be moved around but when you have a vinyl record on the turntable and you drop the needle it just sounds insane, it sounds how music should sound and I think there are plenty of people out there who are cottoning on to that fact, it’s just an experience a real honest connection to the music.

That’s a nice thing nowadays when everything is so fast it’s kinda cool to sit down put a record on and kind of kick back and dive in you know.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Whatever answer I said I guarantee you it will be far from what actually happens, if 10 years ago you had asked me I would see myself now, where I am standing would have been no where I would have predicted.
I just want to be wiser hopefully and calmer and more peaceful if I can.

Where’s your favourite place and why?

Home is probably still my favourite place, in terms of destinations, if I pick one it is going to make me want to pick another but probably Brazil. I would put it right up there being in South America and the hospitality in that country is just ridiculous and the feeling for music and passion is the thing that if you have never experienced it is hard to describe but it’s a pretty outstanding place to go and play music, there is so many places it is unfair to single one out.

What’s the best thing about being a musician?

The best thing for me is being able to live in accordance with the things I believe, I get to express how I see the world and what I think about it. As a result I get to hang out and meet lots of likeminded people and it makes my life really enjoyable.

What’s the worst thing about being a musician?

I think all the time in transit and spending time away from all your family and friends, the ocean and all that kind of stuff.

What advice would you give a young musician?

It all kind of happened accidentally for me…I didn’t get any kind of professional direction _ the only advice I have tried to follow myself is whatever you do in life you just have to love it, whether you’re a baker a chef or whatever you just need to love what you do because it’s not always going to be glamorous or an amazing day. I figure if you are playing music you have got to love the music you are playing because you are going to be sitting in the back of a van with stinking guys for hours on end and maybe turn up at a pub and no one is going to be there or people will be talking or equipment will break and the only thing that keeps your wheels on the road is if you actually love it, if your proud of what you’re doing.

If you are just trying to be famous or make money if you have success it won’t last long and if you don’t you will just be unhappy.

Any walk of life you have to enjoy and love what you do.

What will a mat McHugh solo show is like?

I am playing a bunch of songs off the new record, I figured there was a point where I was making all of this music where there were songs with 100 tracks on each song and got into this really weird head space but I would go away and listen to Bob Dylan in 1966 just him standing on a stage with a guitar and a harmonica and a glass of water and what was being put across was as powerful as anything.
So I really thought there is something to that so I wanted to strip it all back and then I have added some stuff like building songs on the fly with a loop peddle and a sampler, essentially it’s an acoustic guitar a harmonica and some words.
I am not intending on putting on this crazy big spectacle and be a festival party act, I am just playing songs.


Download LOVE COME SAVE ME for free HERE

Mat McHugh plays at Tanks Arts Centre on Saturday 19th of May

Buy Tickets HERE