Mat McHugh and The Beautiful Girls

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Mat McHugh and The Beautiful Girls

Mat McHugh is a fiercely independent musician, and proud of it. He likes to do things his own way, whether it involves touring, working on new music or just living life the way he wants to. He has performed under a number of different aliases – either solo, or with a backing band consisting of friends and musical partners – but stresses that it’s all the same people – and their shared passion – driving it. While performing as Mat McHugh and the Seperatista Soundsystem, McHugh endured continuous questions about his project The Beautiful Girls – was the band broken up? Were they releasing new material? When were they performing again? In the end, McHugh had enough.
“There was so much weirdness about the whole thing,” he said. “People had all these weird questions about The Beautiful Girls. I was always saying, ‘Every single person here is in The Beautiful Girls, and we all make the records and I play the stuff on them’. It just got beyond the point of me explaining it. It got to the point where I just said, ‘Stuff it, we’ll bring it back’.”
Despite being a loose project rather than a full band, McHugh himself admits that he’d fallen into the habit of considering The Beautiful Girls a “proper” band. “I had this preconception in my head where I always felt the need to present (the project) – even though I’d chop up the records and sample them, and sequence them however – as a real ban,” he said.
“We’d fallen into this trap – even though the band’s line-up changes a lot between shows, there was this preconception of what it was; the promo photos were just of the same three guys, like it was a three-piece band. It was just a thing that we ran with for a while, but I felt like it was disingenuous. It was pretty confining and I felt trapped by it.”
With the pressure from fans mounting, McHugh decided that it was time for The Beautiful Girls to make a return. With a stack of songs ready – previously earmarked for his solo work – he was ready to begin production but hit a significant roadblock early on: funds were tight, and album production needs money. With intense fan support behind the project, McHugh decided to take the leap and raise funds for the album via crowdfunding.
“People have always been pretty supportive of the independent ideal, and have been supportive of me and our collective,” he said. “That support is still strong, and I thought that it was a chance to fund the record that needed to be made, on our own terms, but also involve people and give them stuff that hadn’t been made available before now.”
With Dancehall Days done (released in October 2014), The Beautiful Girls have set out on tour – and living the life, playing shows along the Australian coast over summer.
“The summer tours are always the ones that we’ve set up personally because we’re greedy and we love playing along the coast,” McHugh said.
“They’re always the ones where you pinch yourself and say ‘Is this real? Is this what we really get to do?’ It’s our reward for grinding it out for the rest of the year.”
When&Where: Mat McHugh and The Beautiful Girls will play at Torquay Hotel on January 16.
By Alastair McGibbon