Fans have been asking singer, songwriter and guitarist (actually multi-instrumentalist) Mat McHugh of The Beautiful Girls whether there was any chance of releasing an album on vinyl, and now, in a nod to the approaching 20 year anniversary of the band, he’s done better than that – he’s pulled together his favourite tracks from across all five albums, as well as the debut EP, thrown in an acoustic version of the 2018 single, ‘Beautiful World’, and released it as a vinyl double-LP, called ‘Seaside Highlife: Greatest Hits Volume 1’. To celebrate the milestone and the release, The Beautiful Girls are heading off on a Greatest Hits tour, with a stop at our own Cooly Hotel in February. We had a fun little chat with the gregarious Mat ahead of the tour.
You’ve said this feels like an end of an era for the band. What makes it feel that way for you?
I think that for me there’s a couple of reasons. People have been asking for vinyl from the band for a long time, but I couldn’t choose what to release first, and then it just felt like now’s the time. 2000-2020, it’s a nice number so I wrapped up that body of work, and there’ll be an equally large body of work happening in the next twenty years if I survive them! (laughs).
Tell us about the song choice process for ‘Seaside Highlife’.
That was way harder than I thought it would be! I thought it would be really obvious and I’d have a fun old time. I had to keep in mind a physical time constraint because vinyl is only 22 minutes per side. I worked backwards from that, the criteria was obviously a couple of the more popular songs from each album, singles of radio songs, then songs I felt held some artistic weight or historically held some significance to me as an artist, so it was a balancing act between presenting in an artistic way and having an album of songs people know, and I tried to blend that as well as I could. There’s some left off that I lost some sleep over.
If you could encapsulate The Beautiful Girls journey over the last 20 years in just five words, what would they be?
Talk about putting me on the spot! Independent, that’s at the forefront. Staunchly, fiercely independent. Hard working, man I don’t know that’s so hard. I’m happy with just independent, it’s one of those things you have to fight for. TBG has turned down nearly a million dollars in corporate offers over the years. We might not be the biggest commercial corporate success but I’m proud of how we’ve done it. It’s not really an emotion I allow myself to feel too often but I am really proud, I felt really good about how these albums got made without any concessions to anything except making decent music.
Or a bit more than decent, as the case may be. Catch The Beautiful Girls when they take to the stage at Coolangatta Hotel on Sunday 16 February. Grab your tickets through OzTix.