Mat, thank you very much for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions with us. We’d love to take this opportunity to dig a little deeper into your new album Love Come Save Me and the life of Mat. McHugh.
Q1: Where did the inspiration behind “Love Come Save Me” originate?
I guess the beginnings of it was spending a little time at home with a pregnant partner and wanting to strum the acoustic guitar and sing softly. I wanted a nice mellow mood around the house. I wanted to come up with some songs that I could play to her expanding belly.
Q2: When making music, do you write the lyrics first then create music to go along with it, or do you write a melody and create a song around it?
I don’t really analyze or have a set method. I don’t like to talk about it much because it’s kind of magical and I don’t want the magic to think I’m taking any credit.
Q3: Which track on the new album did you enjoy writing the most? Which one is your favorite to play live?
The song I was most fond of writing was “Breaking Your Fall.” It’s pretty much a letter that I penned for my brand new baby boy (at the time). I haven’t had a chance to play all the songs live yet so it’s kind of hard to tell which one is my favorite to play, but I do enjoy “Pocketful of Shells.” It’s a good story to sing.
Q4: You decided to release this album for free as a download on the album’s website, www.lovecomesaveme.com. What made you decide to release your music this way, rather than releasing it with a record label?
I’ve avoided releasing any of my music through a record label. It’s all been independent and funded by myself. This time I felt like I just wanted to give for the sake of giving and share something that is very important to me and came straight from the heart. I wanted to avoid commerce and just have people feel good about sharing something around. We’re so conditioned into putting monetary value on things that it almost seems unnatural to remove it. I thought it would be kind of nice to forget about that aspect of humanity for a while and just listen to some music.
Q5: What has the response been like to the new album from your fans?
It’s been really great, but they’re kind of biased
Q6: Of your solo albums that you have released, which one do you think truly defines who you are?
Well, I’ve released two under my name and all The Beautiful Girls records are essentially solo albums in their creation. I would like to think all of them define who I am, but also none of them define who I am. I change every second and being defined by a moment in time deprives every other moment to have their chance. Songs and albums are like ghosts.
Q7: What message are you trying to convey to the world through your music?
Oh man, no message really. I just like to sing songs. I’m not trying to give advice to the world because for the most part, I’m a bumbling fool. I just try my best to make all my decisions from the heart and make them with love as their motivation.
Q8: What are some of the things you love about writing music?
I love that it brings me closer to my dad who died when I was a boy (he also played). I love that it lets me express my thoughts and feelings and reveals things to me. I love that it’s something I can share. And, I love how music sounds.
Q9: If you had to choose, which artists have had the biggest impact on your musical career?
I don’t have to choose, that’s the best part.
Q10: When you picture other people listening to your music, what do you see them doing?
Believe it or not, I don’t ever picture that. I’m always trying to picture the next song. I’m trying to listen to what comes next.
Q11: Who was the biggest inspiration behind “Love Come Save Me”?
Probably Kingston Elvis Ray McHugh. And BB.
Q12: If you had to define yourself as a musician and describe your music from your own perspective, what would you say?
I would say that I’m an apprentice and spend a lot of time trying to study and learn and grow at the art of making music. The more I know about it, the more I release I don’t really know anything. Writing one song doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to write two.
Q13: Is there a timeframe set when your fans can expect the deluxe hard copy version of “Love Come Save Me” to be available and is there somewhere where your fans can contribute donations to you for the download of the new album until then?
There will be that option on the website soon. At the moment, the only place is at shows. There will be a pricing option with a portion of the money going to charity.
Q14: If there was one festival in the entire world that you could headline, which one would it be and why?
Maybe the Byron Bay Bluesfest here in Oz. It’s the first big festival I fell in love with and some of my favorite musical moments have been playing there, including very recently when I played there solo. To headline it would be a treat.
Q15: When not playing your own music, are there other artists out there whose music you enjoy playing?
Sure, but that is a LONG list.
Q16: Do you intend on touring in the U.S. in support of the release of “Love Come Save Me”?
For me, as an independent musician, touring America can be prohibitively expensive. I would love to come over and do more solo shows, but I’m going to wait and see if there are enough people that download the album and are wanting to see a show. I don’t intend to sit in a van for months to play to twenty people in a coffee shop. I’d rather hang with my family and go surfing, besides I’ve already done that. I guess I’ll just wait and see what happens. There are no plans for The Beautiful Girls to do any more North American touring.
Q17: We really admire your approach of spreading the new music through word of mouth. How many people have downloaded the new album since the release and do you think social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are a large force behind it by connecting people all over the world?
It’s been a little over a week and there has been over ten thousand downloads. Facebook and Twitter have unquestionably contributed to the word of mouth on the album’s release. Social media is revolutionizing the world, including the way people hear about music.
Q18: You now tour solo in addition to shows with The Beautiful Girls. Which setting do you prefer when performing live?
I like both. I like looping things and creating on the fly when I’m playing solo shows, and I like the push and pull of playing with a band. I intend to play Mat. McHugh shows with a band sometime in the near future.
Q19: You mentioned on the website that a portion of the money spent on the deluxe edition of “Love Come Save Me” would be donated to charity. Do you have any particular charity or group of charities in mind that you intend to donate the money to?
I do. I will be contributing to The Surfrider Foundation and am finalizing details about also donating to skin cancer research here in Australia.
Q20: A lot of your music has to do with the ocean and being by water. What is it about the ocean that you love so much?
I grew up in it. I’ve never lived more than a stone’s throw from the beach. If I had to choose between music and the ocean, I would not play another note. It’s been my confidant, my best friend, my teacher, and my savior.
Q21: How does it feel to be one of Australia’s best-loved songwriters and know that your music has touched so many people around the world?
It’s a nice feeling to know that anything I have done could possibly affect somebody else in a positive way. It’s never my intent when I sit down to write a song, that’s a personal process, but it certainly is a nice side effect.
Q22: If you could go back in time to the beginning of your musical career, is there anything you would have done differently? Did you ever imagine the success would span out the way it has?
Anything that I had done differently would have delivered me to a different place and I’m happy where I am. My definition of success is being able to live a life that I’m proud of and that I enjoy. I get to create with love and put positive things out into the world so I truly am blessed. I feel like I was always going to try and achieve that kind of success and I had a belief that I could create my own story in some way. The scale of things and the standard definitions of success are irrelevant and beyond my control.
Mat, thanks again for taking the time to talk to us. We’re looking forward to sharing your responses with the rest of the world to truly show your perspective on your musical career. Congratulations on the new album and hopefully we will be able to see you perform some of these songs live in the future!
Thank you so much for the support!