Most people know Mat McHugh from his time with The Beautiful Girls. Christie Ots caught up with Mat to chat about life, music and the in-between.
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Many musicians follow their heart into the wild world of song and that’s exactly what McHugh did, only his was a love for his father. With his latest solo album, titled Love Come Save Me, reflecting the heartfelt music he creates I was curious as to what part love had played in McHugh’s song writing.
“My initial foray into music started by trying to be like my dad as a little kid,” he explained, “He played music, so I wanted to play music too. He passed away when I was ten and I’ve been trying my best to carry on the family tradition. As far as love goes I do truly believe it is the meaning of life. None of us know the ‘greater plan’ or why we are here, after much contemplation I have concluded that love is the answer. Life influences music and love influences life, so it’s all the same thing.”
This notion is reflected throughout McHugh’s music and is evident in his relationship with his fans. Love Come Save Me was released online for free, which is a rare and beautiful act of giving back to the fans.
“I have such gratitude for being able to have been making music a ‘job’ for most of my adult life,” he continues, “I think there is balance that needs to be achieved for karma to be correct. You can’t always just receive things, you have to give too and I basically just wanted to give music as an offering to everyone who has supported me.” McHugh has been vocal about not allowing the industry to dictate the music, “I had a lot of industry types around me trying to figure out ways to put a marketing spin on it, by trying to collect people’s email addresses (when they were downloading it) but it was a gift. It was as much for me as it was for everyone else and was the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in my career”.”
The upcoming tour sees McHugh give back even more, in the form of great live music. “For this tour we’re really just trying to introduce our new SoundSystem sound and to also make people aware that this really is a continuation of The Beautiful Girls. All of my songs will be played regardless of what name they were released under. I’ve never released an album and then done a tour in Australia under my own name, so we have a lot to live up to,” McHugh explains. While exciting, touring can be a strain, especially when you have someone special to miss, so how does he combat that? “Skype!” laughing he explains, “There was a long time in my life where I honestly had no sense of home. I feel like places are just places, what I do miss terribly is people, particularly now that I have a son. Some days it breaks my heart to be away, I try to Skype as much as I can and just seeing the faces of the people I love really helps. Every vocation has it sacrifices and I just try to remind myself of that fact.”
As honest as his music is, McHugh doesn’t shy away from the personal moments. “I’ve never really worried about it (his music) being too personal. I think no matter what there is always someone who can relate because deep down we’re all the same. Artists who censor themselves wind up saying nothing at all, which is boring”. This seems to infiltrate his music and adds a relatable quality, like his song Fools, which is filled with hope and amusement, “I have more foolish moments than I care to admit,” he laughs, “I’ve probably had more today than I care to remember, so I’m just hanging around, waiting for the next one!”
All said and done Mat McHugh is a musician whose music has always retained that indefinable sense of understanding, no matter how it changes. “I’m just trying to make music that sounds okay to me and that spreads the love,” he says, “I have decided that will be my contribution.” He says if he could only listen to five albums for a year they would be the first five of the Bad Brains’, but mine would be his, so when the Summer Come Save Me tour rolls around I know where I’ll be.