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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Five degrees of inspiration

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Playing two shows this week at the Hotel Great Northern, singer/songwriter Mat from The Beautiful Girls revealed all about his musical inspiration – these are his top five.

1. Bob Dylan: Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right – I’ve always played guitar because my dad played and there was always one around. I don’t remember ever thinking it was ‘cool’ until I heard this song on one of my dad’s records. I remember being struck by how stark it sounded compared to most of the other albums in his collection. In some weird way I could relate. Even as a little kid I remember thinking that playing guitar and singing was all you really needed to say, what you needed to.

2. John Coltrane: My Favourite ThingsAnother one of my dad’s records. I used to love to listen to his mellow ballads and thought the sound of his playing was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. I begged my dad to try to get me into the school band, on saxophone, when I was in first grade. It was a couple of years before I was ‘technically’ allowed to join. They let me in on the proviso that I had to play the shitty, beat-up saxophone they had in storage. I stuck with it and the school got me a brand-new shiny saxophone to play about six months before my dad passed away. It’s still almost the proudest I’ve ever been.

3. Run DMC: Sucker MCs – When I was in my early teens, and my friends were all listening to rock music, I was listening to Run DMC on my cassette Walkman. I thought it sounded so tough and I had no idea how they got the drums and the music to sound like it did. Run DMC were kind of like my Beatles.

4. Minor Threat: Look Back and LaughThese guys (and Bad Brains) were pretty much the only guitar bands I listened to in my teens. It just always felt like, until Nirvana came along, that guitar bands just sung about stupid stuff. It was all a bit too ‘rock star’ for me. I liked all the early hardcore stuff because I could relate to it. I could imagine my friends and me making songs like this.

5. The Clash: Guns of Brixton – I came to the Clash kind of late. I knew about Rock the Casbah and songs like that but I actually thought they were sort of cheesy. Later on, as I dug into their records, I realised how important and influential they are. To me, as a person who likes to mix up genres, a band that mashes reggae, dub and punk rock and has something to say will always be a shining light.

The Beautiful Girls Play the Hotel Great Northern tonight and Saturday and the Coolangatta Hotel on Friday.

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