There’s something extraordinarily special about stripping things back… What that something is exactly, is questionable. Perhaps it’s the raw beauty that is found when peeling away the unnecessary layers, or the serenity that is found in simplicity. Regardless, The Beautiful Girls are mastering the art.
Having recently set out on their 15th anniversary tour of debut release Morning Sun and first full-length album, Learn Yourself, Mat McHugh of The Beautiful Girls explains the focus of the tour and what prompted it.
“The premise is that it’s the celebration of our first two recorded albums – Morning Sun and Learn Yourself – so the focus is on those records,” he says, “And rather than approach it like we’re just going to play the records back to back, it was more about getting into the spirit of how it was when they [the albums] came out.
“The band has obviously grown – it’s grown to sometimes having eight people on stage and playing at a big kind of festival thing, but we decided to strip it all back and have just guitar, bass and drums. We’ve taken it back to basics and it’s been really fun – it’s a challenge.”
The Australian roots rock trio made their debut release, Morning Sun, in the year of 2002. Best described as a melting pot of sunny surf sounds and refreshing reggae undertones, the release is said to be one which established the band’s unique aesthetic. This was followed by the band’s first full-length album, Learn Yourself, which went on to become a ground-breaking success, with both albums having gained critical acclaim and now being Gold Certified.
And so, The Beautiful Girls have chosen to pay homage to their roots this summer and Mat admits to enjoying it more than he initially thought possible.
“It’s just a small moment where you can kind of turn backwards and celebrate something, because in entertainment you never get the chance. You’re just always grinding and you’re always looking forward and trying to make it work, whatever the next thing is,” he says, “These records touched a lot of people in different ways and everyone wants to come and hang out and celebrate them and that’s a cool thing – I don’t feel guilty taking pride in that.
“It’s a weird feeling – it’s not a common thing and it’s never really happened before, but it’s nice and we’re having a good time.”
In staying true to their approach toward the tour, Matt makes mention of the challenges associated with stripping things back, but also notes the rewards that have come with these challenges.
“Stripping it back again and having the challenge of making that work, is just as exciting [as adding new things to the music] and it’s sometimes – a lot of the time – more difficult to make something very sparse sound interesting.
“It’s always easy to add different sounds in, different parts, but to do it really bare boned is really cool,” he says, “And I’ve always appreciated other bands doing it – it’s definitely more difficult to strip it back and really consolidate the parts, but it’s more rewarding when you pull it off, so it’s been a really good exercise.”
When & Where: The Wool Exchange, Geelong – January 18 & Corner Hotel, Richmond – January 20
Written by Helena Metzke