The West

Independence is Beautiful
The Beautiful Girls

While most groups would consider a left leg and a kidney a fair trade for a lucrative record contract, the Beautiful Girls frontman Mat McHugh says he's incredibly proud to still be independent after 10 years in the industry.

"I'm very proud of how we've operated," the Sydneysider explains. "We've always been very ethical, really straightforward and dealt with people in the industry really well, and always independently.

"The people I've surrounded myself with since day one are all friends, they're not long-time industry veterans."

The cynical may question whether the Beautiful Girls remained independent through circumstances rather than choice, but McHugh says there's been no shortage of opportunities. "In fact we turned down record deals from every major label and all the big booking agencies," he says.

The Beautiful Girls took their first baby steps in 2002 when their EP, Morning Sun, received airplay on Triple J. The following year the group had two songs on the radio station's Hottest 100 and embarked on their first national tour.

Six albums, three EPs, an ARIA nomination, 285,000 album sales and at least 12 world tours later, McHugh is finally ready to put the Beautiful Girls to rest.

The only constant member of the group, McHugh says when he released his latest album, Love Come Save Me, he faced a difficult decision - continue under the banner of the Beautiful Girls or finally release under his own name.

"I'm a grown man now and I have a son, and I start thinking of legacies and wanting to have the family name associated with something good," he says. "My dad died when I was really young, so I went through periods of not having that strong connection to my name and identity, and I want this to be something for my son to be proud of."

McHugh says he felt that releasing the album free under his own name felt honest.

"Forever more this will be creative ground zero," he enthuses. "If my priorities get skewed, I can always think about this time. For me it was the most amazing experience in music."

Ten years after they released their first EP, the Beautiful Girls are kicking off for what is touted as their final tour. The trio will play two sets a night - one acoustic, one electric - during their epic trip around the nation, that hits WA next week.

The West Australian

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