Typically the New Year is a time for fresh starts, but as The Beautiful Girls’ Mat McHugh contemplates his uncertain future, he’s elected to honour a past tradition. “Our annual summer tour is all about playing at the coastal holiday towns people flock to,” McHugh says.
“It’s our chance to plug into the Australian culture and be a part of the summer. We’re all very much alike us Aussies,” he grins. “We all share a certain spirit, so this is us putting our two cents in. Personally I can’t wait and it feels so good that people want to come along and be a part of it. We always choose to play places where we can surf – though I’m not actually surfing at the moment so it’s places where I can sit on the beach and swim.”
Currently the ‘Learn Yourself’ singer is in deep recovery mode after being diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae and a herniated disc in his neck. “Everybody tells me with these kinds of injuries – spinal and nerve damage – they take a while to heal, you know? I had a pretty bad prognosis for a while – surgery was looking like it was going to be the only option,” McHugh reveals, “but I’ve been doing something every day, I’ve been seeing all kinds of doctors and having all different kinds of treatments, so I’m getting there.
“We still chose to do the Summer Soundsystem Tour, I didn’t want to cancel that,” McHugh continues. “I think it’s good to have something to do. If you’re injured it’s good to have a goal to work towards. I’m definitely going to get through these shows, sing and have a good time. Music can create a positive energy that’s good for healing as well, but as far as carrying a heavy guitar around my neck for two hours a night I don’t think that is going to happen – though it’s not like I’m Eddie Van Halen, but I’ll be lucky if I play guitar in 2016.”
Although McHugh may not be able to perform as the acoustic guitar hero we have come to love over the years on this tour, he promises to make each gig fresh and exciting. “There’s always surprises at our shows, stemming from the fact we don’t want to do the same thing over and over again every tour. Sure, there’s plenty of bands that have had success doing that, but it just gets boring!” he laughs. “It’s still a work in progress right up to the last minute regarding what gets thrown in and what doesn’t – so I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag just yet. We will have to see what happens and it changes from night to night and I don’t what to make any promises I’m unable to keep.”
McHugh’s resolve to take everything one step at a time is also evident when asked about the possibility of a new TBG album in the near future. “I can’t see making a Beautiful Girls album in a traditional sense maybe ever again. You know where I’d sit down and write 12 songs in a row and record them. I’d be interested in releasing a song with a dubbed B-side remix and just constantly trickle new stuff out instead of living that intense three months in the one room getting an album done. I think I’ve earned the right not to have to do that for a little while – albeit I’m probably about eight albums in!” he jokes. “I’ve worked myself to the grindstone for so long that I really appreciate having some time to achieve a healthy body, mind and spirit, so I’m taking the next year to focus more on that. I just want to keep it simple and enjoy it.”
Written by Natalie Rogers
Image: Brett Croese
When & Where: Westernport Hotel, San Remo – January 6, Torquay Hotel, Torquay – January 7 & The Grand, Mornington – January 8