Fronted by Lizzie Mack and her brother in soul, (much-loved ex-Red Wiggle) Murray Cook, The Soul Movers include top-ranking session legends, bassist Rodney Auld with deputy Matt Crawford on bass guitar (Jon English, The Beatle Boys). Marko Simec (Waiting For Guinness) on soul keys and the legendary Luke Herbert (Lucky Oceans, Troy Cassar-Daly, Paul Kelly, etc) on drums. Consummate musicians with a passion for all things soul, pop and retro rock, their high-energy live show delivers in spades with fans right across the musical spectrum.
Earning their stripes as one of Australia’s hardest-working touring bands, they were hunkered down at Rancom Street Studios with Sherbet legends Garth Porter and Tony Mitchell creating the sound for Evolution – album number four (three for ABC Music) and one that instigates a whole new sonic field around the musical business of moving bodies and soul. Having blown fans away at recent festivals with folks running to centre stage to get into the action, nothing is cooler than watching a passionate crowd shake it up with unbridled love for this exciting recipe of retro soul, funk, and poppin’ rock music. Hi Fi Way spoke to Lizzie and Murray about the album.
You must be really thrilled with the new single Hot Sauce?
Lizzie: Yeah, Yeah, Definitely! We’ve been pumping out the singles like every other band in Australia. It will be exciting now that the album is out as well.
Are you finding that the parents whose kids are in to The Wiggles are now following you in The Soul Movers?
Murray: There is a real element of that and some of the earlier Wiggles fans are now in their twenties and even older in some cases. We do find a lot of them come along to shows and it is nice that they are interested in what I’m doing. It is great that they like the music and that is pretty gratifying. Some of it isn’t that far from what The Wiggles did and most of it is quite different.
Lizzie: We’ve always been known for our live performances because we have been performing together now for seven years. The twenty somethings, The Wiggles kids, would come and catch up with Murray, see what he is doing and stay after saying how much they love the music because it is awesome and quite diverse. It’s pop, rock, R&B and you name it we’re doing it! The fact they have migrated over and stayed is proof that if radio stations played a wide variety of current Australian music we would be played. We are getting to our people and that is really satisfying.
How did you both find each other because you both seem like such a good pairing?
Lizzie: Tall people!
Murray: It has something to do with being tall! Lizzie and I knew each other before The Soul Movers but more as acquaintances to say hello. We both went to lots of gigs to see other peoples bands, we are really in to live bands and we’re both about six foot four or thereabouts. So we would always say hi at shows and Lizzie originally started The Soul Movers with Deniz Tek from Radio Birdman who was her partner at the time. They did an album On The Inside and I got a hold of this album. I had never heard Lizzie sing and didn’t realise that she did sing. I was blown away by her voice. I happened to get in touch with her and said it would be really great to do something together. Lizzie said it is funny you should say that because we have been rehearsing a new band and the guitar player has just gone overseas if you want to come along this Saturday.
Lizzie: He was gone for three months and not three days!
Murray: I think it was meant to be. When we met each other we hit it off both musically and personally. We are good mates and we write together. It has been really good. Lizzie has a lot of energy, I know a lot of people but she does give me a bit of a kick a long. We work together really well.
Did it take you a while to find that right band or project to get involved in?
Murray: I guess so, I wasn’t one of The Cockroaches before The Wiggles but did play in bands before that playing rock music and guitar pop music. When I first left The Wiggles I was a little bit adrift, I played with lots of different people usually in other people’s bands. When we really got moving with The Soul Movers I had a real ownership of it and starting fulfilling my creative side. I was involved in the song writing whereas the other bands I played in I had a lot of fun but it was other peoples songs and projects and I was along for the ride. This has more and more become my project
Lizzie: I reckon I’m working him as hard as he has ever worked in The Wiggles!
Murray: Just about!
Lizzie: All the clips, all the touring and it’s building up which we are happy to say with the live music coming back.
Is it great also to be so hands on with The Soul Movers?
Murray: Yeah, we are very hands on, we are the masters of our own destiny, that might be taking it to far!
Do you remember those original jam sessions when Murray did join the band?
Lizzie: To be completely honest, when Murray left The Wiggles, it was 2012 when he retired, he did a few different things and was with a few different projects but when he joined us there has to be a large gap after nearly thirty years with a bunch of guys he loves like brothers. He was a little bit of a lost sausage and he kept on showing up with his awesome guitars, groovy shirts and his killers boots and his fantastic attitude. He is a honey guy, he gets along with everyone and he joins people together in a really beautiful way. That is a critical element in bands, you have to have those softer, sweeter personalities otherwise you just don’t last. In live music it is being able to go the distance. I’m always saying to young bands, keep loving each other because it takes time and we’re getting close to the edge now but we are going to keep on rocking right out to the other side. I would say that those elements Murray brought including the hunger, he has a hunger for live music and he is a road animal as am I. I love the adventure of the road and we love meeting our fans. Superimposing this guy from The Wiggles with all that love and togetherness over The Soul Movers had a huge impact which meant that we started behaving in a fashion that had longevity and had a really strong injection of passion. Now, nearly eight years down the track we are still together. The was a little joke going around during COVID that no one is playing except The Soul Movers because we kept playing live shows. We kept gigging somehow and someway.
Are you feeling more optimistic now about how the rest of the year might pan out?
Lizzie: It is still tricky, we need people to stand up and actively take back control of our borders and remaining open. We really need our music industry to start getting back to normal. Having people out and dancing is a good psychological feeling for a band if we are doing our job right. As much as people can clap and dance about in their seats there is nothing like getting bodies moving in front of you. Knowing we have vaccinations, knowing we have great contact tracing is important in getting our music industry back. Losing our friend Michael Gudinski is another kick in the belly as he built the music industry from the ground up. We just wrote an album with the guys from Sherbet and their first gig was underneath his house in a little club called The Garrison in Melbourne. For people who have been in the industry since the early seventies from the get go, we’re being kicked at the moment. We need to have some government support to be able to come back strong and to feel supported.
Murray: I am an optimistic person and I feel it will come back. Australia has done pretty well compared to the rest of the world. It does feel like it is getting back to normal. We played at the re-opening of the iconic Enmore Theatre and three days later Midnight Oil played there. We played with a whole bunch of different acts such as Ian Moss, Ella Hooper and a whole bunch of younger and older acts. The joy in the room was just palpable, people having that feeling that live music is back in a fairly big way. I think we’ll get this thing under control, a slow road but we’re getting there.
How would you describe the new album Evolution?
Murray: People who are familiar with our past there’s a bit of that, we haven’t left the past behind. We have embraced a lot of other genres and different music. There’s a lot more, we’ve always had a retro bent but we have moved the retro in to the seventies and eighties a bit more. There’s some real shiny pop stuff, the soul music is still there and because we work with Garth Porter who has been producing for thirty years, it is shinier than other albums we have done. There’s still a lot of heart and a lot of soul in there, we are really happy with it and songs such as Evolution and Strange Love shows that there is such a wide range that there’s something for everyone as they say.
Interview By Rob Lyon