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THE SOUL MOVERS Moving on up

Sydney-based rockin’ soul and funk band, The Soul Movers, are heading to Western Australia to celebrate the release of their new album, Bona Fide, out March 15 through ABC Music/Universal. They’ll be playing a special launch show at Backlot Studios on Wednesday, March 6 followed by shows at The Duke of George on March 7 and The Ellington Jazz Club on March 8 and 9. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to lead guitarist, ex-Red Wiggle and ARIA Hall of Famer Murray Cook (pictured above on the left) about The Soul Movers’ WA connection, his journey into playing soul music and the fascinating story behind creating the album, including visits to some of the most iconic recording studios in the world and working with some of the most famed session musicians of all time.

For those not familiar with your background, ​how did go from playing in rock bands to forming The Wiggles?

After playing in bands through most of the 80s with limited success, I decided to go to uni and study Early Childhood Education. I had pretty much given up playing in bands. There I met Anthony Field and, later, Greg Page. We played music and busked while we were at uni and after we had completed our studies decided to record an album of music for children, using what we had learned about child development and using music with children. The album was released by ABC Music in 1991 and gradually gained attention and started selling. In 1993, we went out on the road full time and that became my life for the next 20 years.

You’ve been a key part of The Soul Movers for some time now, were you always interested in playing that kind of music and why were you drawn to work with WA vocalist Lizzie Mack in particular?

The music of Soul Movers is rooted in 60s and 70s soul and R&B, as the name suggests. But there are many different styles represented – rock, pop, blues, soul, R&B, so there’s lots to love. It’s the music I grew up with and is a big part of what drew me to the band. I knew Lizzie before I was aware she sang. I came across a copy of On The Inside, the first Soul Movers’ album when Deniz Tek was in the band. I was blown away by her voice and phoned her saying I’d love to work with her. We began playing together, along with bassist Andy Newman and decided to resurrect group from the hiatus they were on and began writing, recording and later touring.

You travelled overseas recording this new album in some of the most iconic studios in the world, was there anywhere in particular that was particularly profound for you?

All four of the main studios we recorded in, Fame, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Royal and Sun, were amazing but the one that we were particularly struck by was Royal in Memphis. Although it was probably the least known it has an incredible vibe. It was the late Willie Mitchell’s studio where he produced the superb series of Al Green albums in the early 70s. The studio has hardly changed from the 60s. The same drums, Hammond organ and other instruments used on those albums were available for us. It was magical.

The recording also featured some players that have worked some massive names, who are some of those and what memory do you think stayed with you the most?

We had the great joy and honour of working with two members of the legendary Swampers, David Hood (bass) and Spooner Oldham (keyboards). The Swampers were the session group who began at Fame Studio and then established Muscle Shoals Sound. They have played on records by such artists as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Candi Staton, Clarence Carter, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger and Paul Simon. It was very surreal to be playing one of our songs and seeing those two musical giants grooving along.

Lizzie has said Bona Fide was the first album she felt truly captured the sound of the Soul Movers. Do you agree and if so what do you put that down to?

I think by going back to the source of the music we play and playing with some of the originators we really have found our true sound. We really felt that we got the seal of approval from those musicians which really affected our playing and spurred us on. There really feels like there is something in the air in Muscle Shoals and Memphis. They are great music towns and it seemed to rub off on us.

Do you ever get people say they got into music because of the Wiggles? It must be surreal knowing you made an impression on people at such a young age…

I hear all the time from young people that they got into music because of The Wiggles. It is incredibly rewarding to hear that we had that effect. It was certainly one of our goals when we started. It is particularly rewarding when someone tells me they began playing an instrument and followed music as a career because of us.

What’s your favourite thing about playing in the Soul Movers that you are looking forward to on your upcoming tour and especially shows here in WA?

My favourite part about playing with The Soul Movers is doing the live shows and winning over a new audience. The reaction to Lizzie’s voice is always wonderful. She is a powerhouse and really connects with an audience. Perth is a music town. So many great bands come from WA. You guys know your music and we have always had a great response. Can’t wait.

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