General release tickets are on sale for the OFFBEAT MUSIC FESTIVAL – with much excitement around the announcement that THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS will be headlining the event on Saturday 2 November 2019 at The Imperial Hotel.
Mat McHugh is the frontman for The Beautiful Girls – the singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist responsible for heart-on-the-sleeve songs like ‘Periscopes’, ‘LaMar’, ‘Music’, ‘Blackbird’ and ‘I Thought About You’, and a real pioneer of Australia’s surf-roots-reggae sounds.
While the line-up of the band (or “collective” as Mat refers to it) has changed over the years, Mat is the constant. He IS The Beautiful Girls.
“It’s a project in which the live line-up constantly rotates depending on what the music I’ve been writing at the time has required,” Mat says. “Our line-up for OFFBEAT will feature long time member Paulie B on bass and Carlos Adura (The Strides, Tim Finn) on drums”
“Writing the songs, I’d approach it like a playwright. I knew the ‘actors’ – the musicians – and I knew their strengths. So if I had a saxophone part, I’d know who I wanted to play that part and knew how they would play and I’d write for them. Similarly with drums and keyboards, I would write for that person, and then in an ideal world we’d all go out and perform that album, and line-ups would be different from album to album, from one tour to the next,” says Mat.
So how did it all begin? After an apprenticeship playing in ‘a million weird little noisy garage band combinations’ forming The Beautiful Girls (named to irk his ‘punk rocker tough guy friends’) became the perfect vehicle for McHugh’s musical musings. It was the ride that would help his ‘heart to escape out into the world’ – his chance to become a creative voice and for people to hear his songs.
“I grew up in a single-parent low-income suburb by the beach,” Mat explains, “and, while my mother was working, I spent a lot of time being raised by the surf and skate community. I’d hear hip hop and reggae and punk rock on the sound-systems at parties or blaring out of the back of cars on the way to the surf. All these sounds kind of mashed together into one combined soundtrack for me. I was fooling around with my acoustic songs by adding dub bass lines and hip hop grooves on a beat-up old drum kit in my garage and singing in a mellow style about my real feelings – while all my other friends in bands were playing punk rock and screaming at the world. I still really love that stuff but I felt like my own musical expression lay elsewhere.”
Beginning as a musical collective that started out playing ‘guerrilla gigs’ – jacking open the power box at their local skate bowl – their road would lead from open-mic nights to number 1 albums, glowing reviews, tours, international travel, meetings with heroes, dalliances with villains and an exploration of what was important as artists, musicians and human beings.
The Beautiful Girls debut EP, Morning Sun was officially released at the start of 2002. Originally recorded in three hours for $300, it was pressed as a ‘demo’ and something to ‘hand out to friends’. The lead track ‘Periscopes’ got picked up and became a certified National Triple J radio hit that summer. The Goodtimes EP (a collection of early live favourites) followed that same year.
In 2003, The Beautiful Girls released their debut album, Learn Yourself followed by another EP, The Weight Of The World in 2004. Over the next five years, three more albums followed: We’re Already Gone (2005), Ziggurats (2007) and Spooks (2010).
Learn Yourself, We’re Already Gone and Ziggurats all debuted at Number 1 on The Australian Independent Album Charts, with each selected to be ‘feature album’ on Triple J. Both Learn Yourself and Ziggurats have since been certified Gold in Australia.
The album Spooks peaked at number 18 on the ARIA charts, debuted at number 1 on the Australian Independent Album Chart and number 5 in the US Billboard Reggae Albums Chart. Spooks, which Mat recorded solo at home in his garage, was described as ‘a majestic production where stylistic threads run deep’ and showcased Mat’s ‘ever-solid song writing and his skill as a player of many instruments and producer of emerging weight.’
In the eight years to 2010, the live version of The Beautiful Girls chalked up a dozen world tours, travelling to Japan, Europe, Canada, the United States and South America. Fans of Mat’s music span the globe.
In 2010, McHugh rested The Beautiful Girls while he encountered the joys of fatherhood, not sure whether that moniker would be used again.
This creative period culminated in the writing and recording of the critically acclaimed Dancehall Days – released, under The Beautiful Girls moniker, in late 2014. The album was a short, succinct nod to the formative influences on Mat’s music and the stylistic boundaries were further than ever before. In its own way it’s a private, devotional affair.
Since then The Beautiful Girls have been invited to appear at festivals and special events around the globe. While the band only plays a limited number of shows each year, this is where the depth of the songs, the interaction with the audience and the “spooky, dubby, digital dancehall tinged, rootsy, punky, reggae” music of The Beautiful Girls is at its best.
Sunshine Coast music lovers are certainly in for a treat at the inaugural OFFBEAT MUSIC FESTIVAL when Mat and The Beautiful Girls collective take to the stage. The festival will take place from 12noon - late, boasting 20+ bands playing on five stages across five rooms.
N.B. OFFBEAT MUSIC FESTIVAL is an 18+ event.
TICKETS: $85 from The Imperial Hotel Eumundi (Ph 5442 8811) or through Oztix (+booking fee).