Who: Mat McHugh of Beautiful Girls with Anuhea
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St.
Mat McHugh had a great run with The Beautiful Girls.
The band clocked in 12 world tours and sold more than 285,000 records with its Aussie brand of roots, reggae, pop and folk music.
The Beautiful Girls was actually McHugh's individual project. The singer-songwriter used the group as a vehicle for his music and built the band from there.
Now McHugh's flying solo. Friday, the talented performer shows off his new acoustic music at the Fox.
Call it the de-evolution of an artist.
"It's an interesting question as to what will happen with Beautiful Girls," McHugh said. "I wrote every song on every album that I made myself. I'd recruit friends and take them on the road.
"The Beautiful Girls was a name I called my music. I realized as I get older, I wanted to strip away the superfluous things -- and define the idea of what my life and music should be."
McHugh assures Beautiful Girls' fans that there's still good vibes between tour members.
"The thing is, I don't want to disconnect from The Beautiful Girls," McHugh said. "I still love the guys dearly. At the end of the day, Beautiful Girls is a name to release my music -- not as a band."
McHugh says he had an epiphany that made him appreciate a simpler life.
"I'm at the stage in my life where I want to reinvent myself and strip away everything," McHugh said. "I want to release simple songs and put them under my name.
"I feel I should take ownership of my songs and not hide behind the veil of a band. I also had a child, and there isn't a more mind and heart opening moment. You start thinking about mortality and legacy."
Aussie star John Butler also played a role in McHugh's new career.
"I did my first solo tour last year with the band," McHugh said. "We played these huge theaters and there was this great reception. I got really revved up about standing on stage with an acoustic guitar.
"It's so daunting -- there's nothing to hide behind. In my heart, I knew this is what I should be doing."
McHugh's new EP, Go Don't Stop, captures his simpler sounds. The plan was to make an intimate and honest record, using basic guitar, bass and drums.
"The musical mix on the record is dub, roots and blues," McHugh said. "This is different than a Beautiful Girls album, where we had 100 tracks on some songs.
"I wanted to tell stories on this record, get emotions across and connect to people. I kept the stuff simple, but gave it little twists to give it its own sound."
McHugh's EP only contains four songs, but he's hoping to entice fans with the new material.
"I wanted to have something to show people what I'm doing when I'm on the road," McHugh said. "I'm going to have my acoustic guitar, drum sampler and loop pedal at the Fox. That will give the music great, different layers.
"I think it will sound cool and everything's done on the fly. Sonically, this show is really stripped down and intimate. It's a beats, bassy and dubby mix that has an acoustic, laid-back feel."