On tour in support of their latest album Spooks, The Pier caught up with lead vocalist Matt McHugh with The Beautiful Girls after their show in Boulder, Colorado to find out what it was like to become an overnight success in Australia and what life was like before that venture. Enjoy!
The Pier: Welcome back to the states Matt! You guys have been back once since, but a few years ago you guys had an issue with Homeland Security and were not allowed back in the states for quite some time. What transpired?
Matt McHugh: Yeah we had visa issues and our tour manager actually took the wrap for that. He was actually banned for five years. He only has a year left so that’s good. What happened was that we had two new members, a new drummer and a keyboard player. We were on tour and our tour was not making any money and we all had working visas apart from those two. So, we thought we would do the last leg of the tour with those guys and technically we were wrong cause they got our tour manager for importing illegal aliens and instead of kicking us out, they pretty much threw the book at us.
The Pier: We are glad that that is all behind you guys now. Other than the U.S. and Canada, where are some of your other favorite places to tour?
Matt McHugh: All of us love Brazil! We have been there a couple times and it is insane. We draw about 10,000 people to our shows and Brazil loves dancing and partying, so it’s great.
The Pier: You guys have been together for about a decade now. What were you guys doing before The Beautiful Girls?
Matt McHugh: Collectively, we all have done a bunch of different stuff. Bruce, our drummer, and I have had a bunch of crappy jobs and played in bands together. I lived for a year in India and lived for a year in New York. I basically traveled and surfed and worked a bunch of crappy jobs so that I could save up to go away again. I have pretty much traveled my whole life.
The Pier: Being that you lived in places like New York and India, how did the different cultures help you in creating your sound?
Matt McHugh: It all conspired because I lived in India a year before New York so that gave me some clarity on where I wanted to come from. New York inspired because people had that drive, compassion and conviction. It’s a city where if you are not 100% into what you are doing, you will get eaten alive, where as in Australia, it is very laid back. It was like getting a kick in the butt really. All of that combined with me wanting to represent the culture I grew up in. It all kinda worked together.
The Pier: Once you guys made a demo and were able to get it to your friend whom gave your demo to the people in radio back home and you guys instantly started selling out shows in Australia. Do you feel like you’re still dreaming?
Matt McHugh: (Laughs) Not so much anymore because the first few years we were like, wow, and felt undeserving because the band was pretty crappy. We just tried to get better and we were selling out tours pretty much instantly, which was amazing. Since then, we have been coming over here to the U.S. and sitting in a van, playing to like twenty people from the ground up. I feel like the dues we did not pay in Australia, we are paying here. So, the whole dreaming has subsided a little bit.
The Pier:Your solo album “Separista!” is turning heads as well as “The Beautiful Girls” album “Spooks”. What inspired you to take the solo direction?
Matt McHugh: We had been on a schedule for so long, touring after touring, and it came to an end after the last album “Ziggurats”. We were like, “What do we do?” and I was not ready for another “Beautiful Girls” album yet. So, I went into the studio with a couple of friends and made my solo album pretty quick and really enjoyed it a lot and did a small tour for it. That really helped me re-charge my batteries more than anything. Breaking the cycle was really my whole point behind it.
The Pier: Who are some of your favorite Australian bands at the moment?
Matt McHugh: There is a lot of electronic Australian stuff that I like. There is a group called “The Presets” that are really massive. The stuff I prefer is more New Zealand dub and dance hall like “Fat Freddy’s Drop”, “The Black Seeds” ,“Katchafire” and “Cornerstone Roots”. That is some of the best reggae in the world right now.
The Pier: So, for our last question we want to know what is playing on your iPod right now?
Matt McHugh: A lot of dubstep. I have really gotten into a guy by the name of “Code 9” and a guy by the name of “Skream”. I’m all about futuristic music.