Mat McHugh Talks To LoudNLocal

Matt McHugh is sounding good for a man whose band has just embarked on a 30+ date tour of the country. His band The Beautiful Girls are traveling around Australia on the ‘Laying Tracks” tour with good mates The Fumes, but the onslaught of shows, travel and interviews does not appear to be taking its toll on the band’s singer and songwriter.”We love playing the Corner” McHugh enthuses ahead of the upcoming date at the Richmond venue. “It’s one of the best venues in Australia. The Corner, The Tivoli up in Brisbane, and The Annandale in Sydney, they’re the three places you always want to come back and play”. Traveling with Sydneysiders The Fumes is something McHugh appears to be enjoying as well. “We’ve known them for ages. We’re good friends” he explains. McHugh also claims to be responsible for giving The Fumes their name.

The Beautiful Girls own name, McHugh tells me, came out of a time when the northern beaches of New South Wales were dominated by punk and metal bands. “All the bands that were coming out of that scene were all heavy punk and metal bands with these tough guy names. We wanted to be the opposite of that, so we got the pussiest, prettiest name we could come up with”. With that, The Beautiful Girls were born. Ever since then though, McHugh adds, they have been copping “the same old jokes. You know, ‘Where are the girls, you guys aren’t that beautiful’. I guess it’s been a blessing and a curse, because it’s a name that stays with you, and it’s easily attached to our music.”

Coming out of that scene at that time though has had an influence on McHugh’s songwriting. “There are some punk bands I love” he says. “I’m not down with those upper and middle class punk bands, but I love the whole attitude of punk, when it is genuine. I try to bring some of that to our music. We’re like the punk rockers of the acoustic scene”.

Another major influence on McHugh’s songwriting was, “inadvertedly”, his father, who he tragically lost at a young age. “When I was younger, I really hated it. Dad was always trying to teach me about music, I would listen and he would be talking about what instruments were doing what. My Dad was a musician. He listened to a lot of country, lots of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. And also the old blues guys. Later on I started getting into a lot of punk and Michael Jackson”

There wasn’t a T.V in the McHugh household as he was growing up, which was both helpful and inhibiting. “It meant I wasn’t really up with what was popular. My friends would be talking about all these shows and I wouldn’t know what was going on. I never really listened to the radio much either, so I wasn’t up on the popular music”. But this has helped mould McHugh into the independent songwriter he is, one who isn’t influenced by the popular trends of the time. He played in the school band from 7 years old, but was never pressured to make music his life. “Music has always just been about music” he says. “Sometimes I do think, ‘fuck I don’t care about music’. But it’s something I can always come back to, and escape to it when I need too”

It’s been a steady climb for The Beautiful Girls. The band began in 2000-2001, with Clay McDonald and Mitch Connelly joining forces with McHugh. The bands reputation has been rising constantly, through relentless touring which has taken them all over the world. 2005 saw them release ‘We’re Already Gone’, an album McHugh says helped “weed out some of the acoustic fans. We we’re left with a lot of new fans, and the older ones who just really loved the band.” He describes the album, with its elements of reggae, blues, folk and rock, as a real risk for the group. “It was impossible for us to stay the same. The previous record (Learn Yourself) wasn’t that popular. We needed to challenge ourselves, and get better.” Then in 2006, Mitch Connelly left the group. This has seen old friend Bruce Braybrooke join The Beautiful Girls as their full time drummer.

McHugh tells me that the next album will see the band evolve even more. “It’s gonna be rockier, but at the same time you’ll know who it is straight away. We can’t wait to get it out”. McHugh escaped to Byron Bay where he set up a studio in a small two bedroom apartment. He wrote and recorded about 35 songs, and the group is aiming to have it out early 2007.

For now though, The Beautiful Girls are happy to be running all over the country playing to thousands of fans. After selling out entire tours in Canada, wowing them in the United States, and developing a huge fanbase in Japan, The Beautiful Girls will soon be heading overseas again, taking in all these places as well as countries over both Europe and South America.

Mat McHugh clearly loves what he does. It’s refreshing to hear the passion in his voice for his band and his music. “I just love music man”. We love hearing you make music, Mat.

  • Anonymous

    Whichever of you boys wrote this, its really fantastic!

  • duellsy

    that would have been our good buddy mitchy :)

  • mitchy!

    if that was som sort of talent scout…yes i am available, and will work for food…

    love mitchy.

    and thanks.

    this was actually nice to re-read. he was a cool guy to chat too…