HAVING spent the last ten years as the driving force behind Australian roots band The Beautiful Girls, Mat. McHugh is now ready to step out from behind his group moniker.
“My confidence now compared with ten years ago is completely different. At the moment I’m probably touring harder than I ever have before and what these shows are really all about is introducing myself as me instead of The Beautiful Girls.” As if to make his point, McHugh drops in that he’s actually calling from France, part of his epic round the world tour.
“It’s been almost a full year on tour as a solo artist. It started with supporting John Butler back in November last year and I won’t get back toAustraliatill October so it will be almost 12 months.”
It was his time spent touring with Butler last year that provided McHugh with the final piece of inspiration to strike out on his own. Despite his easy on stage persona and ability to pen a tune, music was never a serious ambition for McHugh.
“I had no intentions of being a musician and I probably didn’t want to be. I just wanted to hook up with this girl who’d invited me to an open mike night down at Bondi but I didn’t want to get up there and perform under my own name so I put a band [The Beautiful Girls] together.”
From such humble beginnings, McHugh quickly became a favourite on the Australian blues and roots scene with The Beautiful Girls. But what does his solo career mean for the band?
“It kind of means it’s over but at the same time it’s not. Because it’s the same thing now just under a different name. Basically if you like The Beautiful Girls you’ll like my shows cause it’s basically the same thing.”
While McHugh might not have aspired to a career in music, growing up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney did instill him with a passion for surfing and the ocean and McHugh is still at his most comfortable in the water.
“When I tour I like to try and stick to the coast because I like to be as close to the water as possible and obviously I surf where I can. It’s nice cause people who come to the shows are usually surfers or skateboarders and I can just borrow someone’s board or grab one of my boards and go for a surf. I’m feeling pretty beat up at the moment after spending a bit of time surfing in the south west of France. ”
But even with the nearest surf break a solid drive away, McHugh is still up beat about his upcoming performance in London.
“It’s been years since I’ve played in London. The Beautiful Girls played there a few years ago but you know, London’s London and it’s a pretty happening city so I’m looking forward to it.”
His show at Tameis Dock on London’s Embankment, part of the Seaweed Sessions, is a sold out success and Mat’s EP ‘Go Don’t Stop’, available now, is looking at going the same way. Watch below.
Go Don’t Stop, Mat McHugh from Claire Gorman on Vimeo.