ROAD SONG: Matt McHugh heads to Byron Bay armed with new sounds that inspire thoughts of Beautiful Girls.
ROAD SONG: Matt McHugh heads to Byron Bay armed with new sounds that inspire thoughts of Beautiful Girls. Contributed

Matt McHugh welcomes change

THREE shows down and Matt McHugh hasn't quite made it to the road.

The Cronulla-based McHugh has managed to slot in three sold-out shows near home but will take to the road on Thursday, before heading to Byron Bay on Saturday.

McHugh, who previously performed as part of The Beautiful Girls, said his most recent sets have been some of the best he's been a part of.

"On stage we still have all the members of The Beautiful Girls, we're just doing things a little differently," he said.

The three shows that McHugh and his band mates have done have all stretched to two hours but McHugh said it was hard to know what songs to leave out.

"Anyone who has been to one of my shows, or to The Beautiful Girls' - every single song that they've seen in those sets is fair game on this tour," he said.

"This isn't really a solo thing, it's a continuation of the same thing I was doing with The Beautiful Girls, it's just kind of heavier now. It's bass-heavy but in an old-school way. It's big bass groove music."

McHugh's latest single, More Money, is testament to that.

"What I'm aiming to do is have my own little piece of real estate in the music scene. And I'm influenced by all these things; dub, reggae, punk. I grew up listening to hip hop. It's all a journey," he said.

That journey included changing the band name.

McHugh said he had spent about 20 seconds before settling on The Beautiful Girls and had recently chosen to play under his own name.

"Even with my last album we thought, 'should we call this The Beautiful Girls or Matt McHugh?' and I decided to go with Matt McHugh, because it's important to me how the music is put out," he said.

The album, Love Come Save Me, a more acoustic sound for the singer-songwriter, was released free as a digital download on his website with 50,000 downloads to date.

Although McHugh said the free release wasn't a marketing ploy, if the first sold-out shows are anything to go by it has acted as one.

"I wanted fans to just have something from me but I guess if something is free they are more likely to pass it on to their friends," he said.

It's no wonder McHugh did have doubts about dismissing The Beautiful Girls name.

The band released several charting albums, including 2010's Spooks that made it to No.1 on the Australian Independent Chart and No.7 on the US Billboard Chart.

The Beautiful Girls toured the world and McHugh's audience continued to grow.

He's not quite sure how it happened but he sells out as many, if not more shows in South America.

And that continues as he plays under his own name.

"There are 20 million people in Australia but over there you have 20 million people in one city, that's good for touring," he said. "There are a lot of people who are accepting of my sound over there."

McHugh will have his latest EP, a taste of where his sound is going available on tour.



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