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Byron Shire
December 3, 2022

Interview with Murray Cook

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Murray Cook, one-time Wiggle, now guitarist for the Soul Movers! He plays the Brewery on Saturday 13 April. Pic by Tom Wilkinson

Soul Movers

Byron Brewery | Saturday 13 April | 7pm  | free
Record-store day appearance at Howl and Moan at 1pm

I don’t think there’s a single person in Australia who doesn’t know who Murray Cook is, or at least doesn’t know a song written by him. He’s best known for being a founding member of The Wiggles.

He has been a mainstay of the Australian music industry for well over 30 years, finding his beginnings in a few Sydney-based rock bands before, in 1991, he founded The Wiggles with Anthony Field, Greg Page, and Jeff Fatt. From there, the ARIA Hall of Famer has become one of Australia’s most well-known and critically acclaimed guitarists, dubbed ‘the most influential guitarist in the world’ owing to his work with young children through The Wiggles – influencing generations of guitarists, including many of Australia’s most prominent names today; including the DZ Deathray boys. Not only has Murray done cameos in their video, joined them onstage at Splendour last year; the DZ boys returned the favour and did a cameo in the first Soul Movers’ single out last week!

Murray may have left The Wiggles, but he certainly hasn’t slowed down. He is living his passion in music, joining The Soul Movers, a soul/R&B/classic-rock band that is his primary music focus.

‘The Soul Movers started in about 2006. I wasn’t involved then; It was Lizzie Mack and Dennis Tek from Radio Birdman. They broke up and so did the band. I had known Lizzie for quite a while – she’s six foot two and I am six foot four – so I’d see her across the room. I was blown away by her voice. I got in contact and asked if she’d like to play some music, and that ended up leading to the Soul Movers getting back together!’ says Murray.

The Soul Movers have had quite an adventure since then. ‘A couple of years ago we were in Austin, Texas, at SXSW; afterwards we went on a road trip to Muscle Shoals – it’s a small area with three small cities and some great sound studios. We ran into this guy there in his 70s. Lizzie start talking to him and brought him over and introduced him as Gene Chrisman, who played drums on Son of a Preacherman! And songs with Elvis. We had a chat and he said, ‘Do you want to meet the guys I am recording with?’ He was recording with Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys. It was an amazing experience. We recorded at FAME the original studio – the one where Aretha Franklin recorded! It was amazing. It can be overwhelming at first, but you get down to work and start recording. There is a feeling there, though, and we wanted to work like they did in the 60s. Playing a lot live. I think it gives a better feel. It gets too clean with overdubs, but like this – it’s very organic.’

Murray is still getting out there with the kids, proving he could shred it with the best of them with the DZ Deathrays. ‘They asked me up onstage for Splendour and we did AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. It was great fun! A lot of people there said The Wiggles was the first gig they went to! It took up so much of my time and life being in The Wiggles; it was a big part of my identity, and it took a couple of years to settle in to not being a Wiggle, and there were times when I thought it was a mistake leaving. I love being in the Soul Movers; it does help fill a creative hole. I am really involved in the creativity of writing the songs. We are looking for that sweet spot. After 20 years of touring 10 months of the year you want to be popular, but play gigs close to home!’

Soul Movers are in Byron to play the Byron Brewery on Saturday 13 April at 7pm, free, with a record-store day appearance at Howl and Moan at 1pm. byronbaybrewery.com.au

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