The Beautiful Girls are about to embark on their East Coast Australian tour and will see Queen Elizabeth Park on Australia Day 2010. Friendly front man, Mat McHugh stops by for chat about making beautiful music.
You have released a number of independent EPs and LPs since you started out, including ‘Morning Sun’, ‘Learn Yourself’, ‘Good Times’ and ‘Weight of the World’. Which record is your favourite?
There are probably more than we can recall! I don’t really know which one is a favourite, but there are definitely things about all of them that I like. I like Learn Yourself because it all hangs together and it flows well, which is an achievement for me, because I have a short attention span.
I really like We’re Already Gone, but a few of the songs are a bit all over the shop and there is much experimentation… and I like Morning Sun because it was one of the first things we did and we recorded it in two and a half hours and it cost us about $200, but still went on to sell 100,000 copies.
Do you cringe when you listen to any of your early stuff?
I’m not sure if I cringe, but I hear it and see how much they could have been evolved like our new stuff. When I hear our old stuff I wish we could do them then like we do them now, but that’s just the journey. Morning Sun was literally a couple of hours to record from the moment we pressed the button, and there is no over the top production.
It is good to look back on our early stuff in that sense because it was raw. However, if I knew so many people were going to spend time listening to it, I guess I would have spent a little bit more time on a few things. Like anybody I guess, I think I’m a little critical of myself!
How were The Beautiful Girls discovered?
I don’t know if we were ever really ‘discovered’. It was a little bit of an accident. I was living in New York, came back, put that album together really quickly because I wanted to have a demo to go back to New York with. We hung out in Australia for the summer and we started playing at a friend’s open mic night and a couple of shows on the beach at Avalon.
The second time we went to that open mic night, the crowd had tripled, and it just grew. I also grew up in the surfing world, and a few of my friends put songs on movies and that took off too.
It was very gently, gently.
We are an independent band, and we never had a record label going out and spending a million dollars promoting us … we just worked hard and toured and tried to make good records.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the Northern Beaches, Dee Why. It absolutely shaped me as a musician, and as I was growing up I blended the surfing and musician lifestyle.
I wanted to describe the environment where I grew up, and I always really want to represent that in the music. It’s very important. I am still based on the Northern Beaches in Manly, and I’ll probably live here the rest of my life.
I remember going to watch you play on the East Coast, and after the gig you would head to the pub with the crowd to go and have a beer with the fans. Do you still do this, and why is it important to you?
Yeah, I still do! I think if you don’t do normal things like that, you start going a little crazy. The way I see it is there are kind of two worlds; there is the world of make believe which is created by the music industry, and the people who win ARIAS are made out to be ‘special’ and not like everyone else. I guess they figure it’s a good way to sell records. I have never thought about it like that though – I think, “What’s the difference?”
Yeah, we play music and write songs that everyone can relate to because we are all the same … but to turn around and think, “I’m too good to hang out because I have been on stage and you haven’t”… it kind of seems ridiculous. It makes me cringe, and it’s not the universe we live in!
You also have a huge following overseas. Where is your favourite place to play?
Well, we think every place has its own thing going on. Europe was our fave place up until recently, when we did Brazil. It was mind blowing! We had ten thousand people show up to the festivals we played at, and all of the event organisers took us out to the sites and showed complete hospitality.
There was so much enthusiasm, so collectively speaking for the whole band, I would say that’s a top spot. We also did a little show north of Cairns, and that was awesome too, with great waves. Things out of the ordinary are always fun!
Tell us something about this tour that will excite readers.
This tour will have a six piece band, with horns and different instruments. The band expands and contracts, so be expecting something big and great and fun.
We are so excited to start the tour this summer, and because it’s on the coast and it’s this beautiful season and it’s Australia, it’s going to be beautiful. We are going to let our hair down, play some songs and have fun.
Favourite season Spring
Favourite possession Laptop
Favourite eye colour Turquoise
Favourite song from the new album Rockers
Favourite beverage Whisky
Favourite venue Outdoors … on the beach…. in Brazil.