At an open mic night back in 2002, an audience member watched a group of guys from Sydney's northern beaches play songs about surfing, music and girls.
Enjoying their refreshing, low key, acoustic sound, he got a hold of one of their demo tapes and from there their music found its way to Triple J and the ears of Aussies all over the country. That was just the beginning of what has been a crazy and unbelievable ten year ride for The Beautiful Girls.
“It just turned into this thing,” Mat. McHugh, the band’s frontman and chief songwriter, says. “The shows started selling out pretty quickly and it wasn't ever really a plan. The Beautiful Girls as a name was kind of a joke and it all took off without much thought put in place and we just held on the best we could.”
Had you told McHugh he'd be where he is today, playing his music to thousands of fans around the world who know every word to the songs he's written in his bedroom, he wouldn't have believed you. He hasn't let the success change him and says he's still the same person who grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney.
“I had no intention to ever make it my career,” he says. “I've always played music since I was a little kid and I just love it. I almost didn't want to do it as a career 'cause often if you're not careful if you make a career out of the things you really love you can end up hating them.”
There wouldn't be many bands in the past ten years that have toured as much as The Beautiful Girls. However, the decade long road trip is set to end where it all began, and the band will play their last ever tour at 26 stops around Australia.
While it may be the end of The Beautiful Girls as you know them, McHugh is on the same road he's always been on. Now he's just doing it under his own name.
“It's going to be really enjoyable, we're all in a good headspace and we're all positive, there's no animosity in the band. I'm sure we're all going to keep continuing to play music together in some shape or form ... we're all great mates and we'll all keep playing, and that's the thing we want everyone to know. It's just time to move forward into the present day.”
The band’s Facebook page has been inundated with fans posting stories about parts of their lives and adventures they've had that have involved The Beautiful Girls, and while McHugh thinks all these memories are cool, he has a different slant on it.
“I'm flattered that we're able to be involved in people's lives and all be in this crazy journey over the last ten years together, but at the same time I'm not entirely a nostalgic person. I want to celebrate ten years of amazing fun and opportunity and the gift of a life that I've been given. I'm sure there's nostalgia in there, but I'm looking more forward to the future than sad about the past. The past is done, it's gone.”
As McHugh evolved so too did his music and under the guise of The Beautiful Girls he touched on many genres. Their final shows will embody this and will be split into two parts, beginning with an acoustic set and returning plugged in and electric. Whatever the song, McHugh hopes you'll sing along with him.
“The songs really come to life when people are in the crowd and they're getting involved and they're singing and they're dancing. Our whole approach is that it needs to be a communal thing and the stage doesn't make any huge difference … it's just a room and we're all in here together. Historically our crowds have been amazing in that respect and it's been a blessing to be in a room with everyone.”
To all The Beautiful Girls fans out there, this isn't the end of the music, just the end of a name, and McHugh has this to say to everyone who has supported The Beautiful Girls over the past ten years: “Firstly, thank you, it can't be expressed how much gratitude all of us have for everybody that's enabled this to happen...
"We're as happy and amazed by the whole thing as anyone. Secondly, the main thing that people know is it's not the end of anything; it's just changing to my name. The name ‘The Beautiful Girls’... I feel like I've outgrown it and that's all. So the relationships between all of us that play the music are not ending, the music's not ending, nothing. It's just the next step in the journey and I for one am excited to see what happens.”
The Beautiful Girls play the Coolum Civic Centre Friday August 10, The Tivoli Saturday August 11, The Great Northern Thursday September 27 and Saturday September 29 and Coolangatta Hotel Friday September 28.