Former SURFING “Sounds” band The Beautiful Girls are back with a new album. Last time we spoke with them, they were just about to tour the US — but visa issues caused them to cancel the shows. So the went home to Australia and recorded a new album. Now they’re back, and they want to give SURFING readers a couple free tracks (bottom of page) from the new album as a thank you for your continued support. Frontman Matt McHugh talked with us about the album before headin’ out on their new US tour.
SURFING MAGAZINE: Do you get to the beach much when you’re on tour?
MATT MCHUGH: Not as much as I’d like. I find if I’m not near the ocean for an extended period though, I start to get stressed out. I’ve had a chance to surf at most places around the world. The strangest one would have to be a little jetty kind of set up just outside of Amsterdam. It’s right next to a shipping lane with giant windmills on the beach. The waves don’t get good there often but it’s fun just for location alone.
What sort of headspace was this album written from? What was your process?
It’s actually the first time I’ve had a chance to write an album in one sitting. I rented a little place just outside of Byron Bay with my girlfriend and would surf in the mornings and write songs all day while she was at work. I had a little laptop setup and pretty much every note on the album was written before we went in to record. It only took a couple of months.
The sound of this album is much fuller than previous ones — what’s changed?
In the past, I would write the skeleton of a song and we’d just do whatever we could to it in the studio, whereas this time around I had a really strong idea of what each song would contain as far as parts go. Sometimes in the past I wish we would have put a bit more thought into it.
Last time we spoke, you seemed pretty amazed at how well everything was going and the fast success of the band? Has putting out a fourth album changed things; are you feeling more established now?
Ha, no, not at all. We are just an independent band that has to find a foothold with every release. By choice we don’t have a major label budget or marketing plan to help us be established. The only way we can even compete in the circus that is the music industry is by having something to say and saying it as honestly as we can. It’s a constant battle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because, for the most part, the music industry and it’s style of hyping every “next best thing” makes me sick.
What’s the last album you bought that got you excited?
I really, really love a band from New Zealand called Fat Freddy’s Drop. Every time I listen to their album I get so jealous that I didn’t write it. They’re very clever and their singer has an absolutely beautiful voice.
What’s the most personal song you’ve ever written?
To a degree, they’re all personal. If a topic doesn’t inspire some kind of personal, emotional response — I won’t bother writing a song about it. It’s would be too boring.
What aspect of Ziaggarauts are you happiest about?
I like the sounds on the album. I like the songs and the playing.
What’s up with the “bonus tracks” — what’s bonus about them?
I don’t know why they’re on there. Our record label just wanted to put them on to make the album a little different to the Australian release. They’re just home demos. If it was entirely up to me, they wouldn’t be on there.
What’s a Ziggaraut, away? Why’d you name the album that?
It’s a temple. A halfway point between the heavens and the earth. I kind of feel that music is exactly the same thing.
Have you got your US visas in order this time around?
Ha ha, yeah. The whole visa thing is just a joke. A couple of the band had incorrect visa’s and they put us through the ringer. Our tour manager, Matty Woo, is still banned for another five years. It’s a shame the world has ended up in a place of such fear and paranoia that a bunch of musicians are treated like international criminals for not having the right letters on their passport. It hasn’t changed my opinion on George W though. I already thought he was an idiot.