Fresh from another successful month-long European tour hitting the UK, Germany and The Netherlands, including shows at London’s legendary O2 Academy, Boardmasters Festival and Holland’s infamous Zandstock, The Beautiful Girls are pumped to bring their Beautiful World tour back home for the Australian Summer. Mat McHugh is The Beautiful Girls.
Joining band leader, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Mat McHugh will be long-time Beautiful Girl bass player Paulie B and former Xavier Rudd drummer Bobby Alu. Alu will also double as the tour’s supporting act in duo mode in his other guise as master ukulele strummer – an obvious co-conspirator in all things tropical and summer across the 23-date national tour. Matt answers a few questions for Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles.
How did the European tour go?
It was great. TBG has always been a solo project with a revolving collective of musicians. For Europe we did went out as a three piece. Myself, along with Paulie B on bass and Bobby Alu ( ex – Xavier Rudd ) on drums. No computers, no backing tracks no safety net. Whatever magic we could pull out each night was up to us. We consider ourselves musician first and foremost, as opposed to an ‘entertainers’, so the important thing is the musical conversations we can spark up. We’re all close friends and our musical styles work really well together. The European tour had some of my favourite onstage moments ever.
Are you amazed and quietly chuffed with how much things continue to build in Europe?
I’m amazed when anybody comes to a show anywhere ! We’re Independent and don’t have a huge marketing budget or songs getting slammed on the radio so it’s all through word of mouth. We get such great crowds of people who seem to really appreciate music. I know a lot of bands that aren’t so lucky.
What do you think it is about the music of The Beautiful Girls that has seen Europeans really get in to your music?
I think that people are the same everywhere and that our music has the ability to connect with people no matter where they are from. It’s more about getting that music through to them. With the Internet and streaming being so powerful, it’s easier than ever to spread the Word across the planet.
Best gig on the tour and what made it great?
The last show was in an old building in Hamburg. It used to be a Nazi brothel and has been converted to a venue. It’s hidden down an alleyway and the inside, weirdly, looks like an old church. The place was packed and the sound was amazing. The gig was a culmination of us playing every night together for a month straight. It was one of those ones that I won’t ever forget.
Did you get much of a chance to slip in to tourist mode?
A couple days here and there. It’s always nice to get out of the Oz Winter and feel some sunshine.
Are you really happy with where The Beautiful Girls are at right now?
I feel lucky that people still listen and come out to shows. I have always tried to write songs that stand the test of time. That is always a bit of a trade off because they never seem to fit into a current rend but it means they stand on their own merit and have a, hopefully, longer life. I still feel proud of playing them.
What is the story behind the single Beautiful World?
Total destruction inspired it. I had bad management a few years ago that caused me to lose every single dollar I had earnt in my career. I was sitting at home in debt, with no gigs booked and no money. All I had left was my heart and whatever talents I possess. I decided I had a choice in how to react to the situation. I could be the victim or I could choose to fight. In my life, the darkness has always been with me, peering over my shoulder, but I choose to stare it down and wrap my arms around all the beauty I can find in this fucked up World. Beautiful World is about that.
Did you high five yourself after you recorded this one knowing that you were on a winner?
Ha, nope. I don’t even know what that means ! I just record a song until I think it’s the best I can do and then I start thinking about the next one.
What can Australian fans expect on this tour?
It changes night to night. But, the band is sounding as good as it ever has, maybe better. Maybe best. We play all the songs people know and recognise as well as some new tracks and new versions of whatever we can mess with.
Will it feel more like a holiday than a tour considering some of the awesome spots you’re heading to?
For sure, it’s become a bit of a tradition. The Summer TBG tour is always equal parts beach time and stage time. It’s our favourite time of year !
What’s in store in 2019 for The Beautiful Girls?
I’m not sure what happens next. More new music but I’m not sure what name I will release it under. Cosmos willing, I’m always going to be making music and being on tour somewhere in some way, shape or form.
Interview by Rob Lyon