What is there to say about Murray Cook that hasn’t been said before; whether as a human being or as part of The Wiggles? Murray is one of the nicest humans in the world, completely motivating, upbeat, well-respected, and he was nice enough to take a little bit of time out of his day to have a chat with Eat This Music.
After having retired from famed Australian children’s group The Wiggles in 2012, Murray took his expertise to a different – albeit similar in positivity and melodies of inspiration – project called The Soul Movers.
The Soul Movers started as a band well before Murray even knew of their existence. The band originally started 13 years ago with Lizzie Mack (singer) and her partner at the time, Deniz Tek (of Radio Birdman fame) working on music around 2009. However, with Murray out of The Wiggles in 2012, he sought out a new project to fulfil his creative niche over the next couple of years, and that project was evidently The Soul Movers. Although, before joining The Soul Movers, Murray first started listening to the band’s music, then eventually built up the courage to send Lizzie an email about jamming together and working on material.
“I’d love it if they got into the music and took away the positivity in the album.” Murray Cook on what he wants listeners to take away from the album.
The timing was right – with Murray occasionally working with Lizzie on songs, jamming, and just being around each other working on creative agendas – and with The Soul Movers’ guitarist moving around a lot, there was a slot for Murray to continue playing with the band on an occasional basses and eventually take up the helm in the band full time, which he did, obviously. “Why don’t we do it as The Soul Movers,” Murray recalls about what he said to Lizzie in the early stages of the two of them working together.
This brings us to the release of the band’s fourth studio album and third with Murray. In which the creative process for the fourth album was actually very different to what the band had done previously. One big difference was that Murray (and Lizzie) got the opportunity to work with Garth Porter from Sherbet (known for smash-hits like ‘Howzat‘). What Garth brought to the album, though, wasn’t only his expertise as a producer and writer, but also his guidance, structure, performance and overall presentation of the output.
“This is the first time we have worked with an outside producer,” Murray says on the process of the new album at Rancom Street [studios]. “To really move forward, we needed someone else to look over it.” And “look over” it Garth did. Murray has been creating music for over 40 years, and yet, he is still a humble person that is learning every day.
“We looked at the studio first and met Garth,” Murray says on being invited to Garth’s studio. “We said [that] we are looking for someone to produce.” Although, at that point in the creative process, The Soul Movers already had some songs written. “Garth kind of thought they [songs] needed a bit more work,” Murray continues, “we kind of left ourselves in his hands, that was as a really, really great process.”
From there, the band basically wrote and record a few days a week for six weeks, which also gave each member enough time to sit around the studio and go through the production process. Murray adds, “We came up with ideas too, it was a really great way to work.”
In fact, A lot of the songs The Soul Movers had already previously written, with Lizzie having written most of the lyrics for the songs. “We would actually go in there like work,” Murray continues on the creative process of the album. “Sometimes I [did] need a little push to get things done. [Laughs]”
“I always see things as an adventure.” — Murray Cook on creating music
In The Wiggles, the band saw creating music – lyrically and visually – as an adventure, and that is something Murray took from the band into the new album, made clear in songs like ‘Evolution,’ ‘Hey Girl,’ ‘Splinter,’ and ‘Circles Baby (video above),’ which saw the original Wiggles (Jeff, Anthony & Greg) come together again.
Speaking on ‘Evolution’, Murray explained that it is a song that touches on the environment and the world we live in at this moment. Although, I’d say the title track is one of the most powerful songs in terms of lyrical prowess and material; it is a song that offers so many elements of positivity, with lyrics like ‘It’s [faith] deep in the heart of everyone, don’t give up, we can work it through.’ and ‘We’ll find a way to make the dream come true’, and ‘All the people under the sun will join together when the world is one!’
“I’m a really positive kind of guy,” Murray tells Eat This Music as we talked about the title track, ‘Evolution’. “We definitely need to do better.”
Referring back to two of the aforementioned songs – ‘Hey Girl,’ and ‘Splinter,’ in particular – Murray wanted to touch on the importance of those songs for a reason, as ‘Hey Girl’ reminded him of a Jeans ad from the 70s, and also sees the song as a nice, kind of fun feminist empowerment anthem.
‘Splinter’ on the other hand, is actually a song Lizzie gained inspiration from after watching an episode of the drama television series Killing Eve. At the time of the initial inspiration, Lizzie was thinking what would drive someone (à la murder) to become a horrible person like that episode’s story.
Lizzie is the type of person that can create an entire song based off minimal experiences in life (as evident in ‘Splinter’). “[She] does a lot of work,” Murray assures Eat This Music on Lizzie’s contribution to the band. “I [just] put us in touch with people.”
Django Bar at Camelot, Marrickville NSW – April 10
The Gum all, Maitland NSW – April 17
Basement Discs, Melbourne VIC – April 23
Cherry Bar, Melbourne VIC – April 24 (8pm & 10pm show)
The Soul Movers, recently had their album launch in Sydney in March, and have more shows to come in April (10th, 17th, 23rd & 24th). “It was a little frustrating,” Murray tells Eat This Music on one of the earlier performances, “we played at Brass Monkeys” in Melborne,” which was during heavy COVID restrictions in the stage,” however, Murray’s sister was there to support him and take charge of dancing in her chair.
2021 looks to be a big year for The Soul Movers – which has been the case since Murray’s involvement – to grow and expand the project across the country. In fact, Murray is hoping to play more shows across Australia and abroad. “We want to play Adelaide,” Murrays pinpoints, as it is a location The Soul Movers have yet to play, “We would really like to play festivals,” Murray adds, “that is where we see our niche.”