The Beautiful Girls will help the city kickstart the summer festival season as the headlining act for Celebrate Gold Coast. Known for heart-on-the-sleeve songs and the voice of Mat McHugh, The Beautiful Girls pioneered the surf-roots-reggae sounds of Australia.
After an apprenticeship playing in ‘a million weird little noisy garage band combinations’ forming The Beautiful Girls (named to irk all their ‘punk rocker tough guy friends’ ) would become the perfect vehicle for McHugh’s musical musings. The ride that would help his ‘heart to escape out into the sorld’. His chance to become a creative voice. For people, finally, to hear his songs.
While the band only plays a limited number of festival 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.
It’s a sound that The Beautiful Girls invented, and none do it better.
Mat has two projects essentially. The Beautiful Girls is one of them, and the other is Mat McHugh. He performs solo or with backing musicians. Last time he was on the Gold Coast he was a two-piece at the Soundlounge.
“I’ve been touring like that the last year,” he says of the two-piece format.
“I like switching it up so I don’t get bored and that the music stays fresh.”
Mat is back on the touring circuit after being forced to take a break from an injury. Quite a dramatic one.
“I wasn’t looking after myself mentally and physically and I broke,” he told Blank GC.
“Having a broken neck impacted my whole life and the way I see it.”
“Now I feel like things are in a better perspective and whenever anything feels like it’s getting too much I am better at pulling back and taking it easy,” he said. Quite the contrast from the two albums he made least year – one as The Beautiful Girls and one as Mat McHugh.
“I used to be in a rush, too many songs in my brain, not enough time to get them out.”
“Now I feel like taking my time.”
It’s fitting Mat’s headlining an event that celebrates the Gold Coast. Mat is quite obviously fond of the city. He tours he regularly and says if nothing else if feels like a “real” surfing town.
“The Gold Coast was one of the first places The Beautiful Girls started making a name for themselves,” he reminisces.
“I’ve always loved coming there for the waves and the vibes. It still has that punky energy to it which I really like.”
“Our music always seems to make sense there, everyone that is part of that culture understands,” Mat said.
So after a forced hiatus yet such a large back-catalogue, if everything went according to plan, what would the next ten years hold for Mat McHugh and The Beautiful Girls?
“Ten more albums,” he laughs.
“Actually my only plan is to be happy and healthy,” he said. “The rest is a mystery.”
“At the moment my focus on releasing music and touring it under my own name, but The Beautiful Girls will always be around as a live act.”
The Beautiful Girls was super lucky to have shared a lot of history and good times.”
“A lot of those songs connect with people and there’s a lot of emotion and memories in there.”
“I feel like it’s a celebration of that whenever we get together to play a show.”
And a celebration is exactly what’s going to go down for Celebrate Gold Coast. It takes place Sunday 9 October at Chevron Island with IVEY and Hot Potato Band also on the lineup.
As well as live music there’ll also be hands-on craft, circus school, skate and BMX demos, suitcase rummage and food and drinks by Chevron Island traders.
More details at cityofgoldcoast.com.au/celebrate.