Murray Cook's Soul Movers are making moves again, this time shifting from the incredible Memphis soul sound of previous album 'Dumb Luck' into turf harder and faster territory.Sitting in the baking afternoon sun, the OG Red Wiggle Murray Cook and powerhouse frontwoman Lizzie Mack reflect on their latest offering, which coincidentally is also searing hot and in your face – their hard rock single 'You-Turn' (which scenestr proudly premiered the song's rockin' music video yesterday).
The only difference being the latter contains the kind of note-perfect guitar solo that has you grinning from ear to ear and spruiking "this is what good music used to sound like".
"The record was pure passion fuelled by muscle cars and vintage guitars," Mack elaborates, "and then Murray and I were side stage at Splendour for The Chats going, 'far out, this reminds us of bands like The Hard-Ons', that Detroit rock flavour came rushing back to us.
"We had a really great chat with Josh [Hardy, The Chats] at Splendour," Cook confirms. "The Soul Movers was started by Lizzie with Deniz Tek of Radio Birdman. Josh is a fan of Radio Birdman, so that was great to share with him. We said, 'would you be interested in playing on this track', and he was keen."
The track had originated some time before, birthed from the pressure and paranoia of COVID lockdowns. "The name's 'You-Turn' because I remember when COVID was really full on, people would walk at you crossing a set of traffic lights, you'd jump out of the way," Mack shares. "I was documenting that feeling of evading. It had to come out as a rock & roll song.
"Rob Tyner of MC5 wrote kick-ass jams, the most incredible songs, and they were about evasion too. Dez used to tell me about the winter of hate. It was the summer of love, and then six months later, Detroit was on fire.
"There was so much police brutality and musicians were being controlled and truncated in so many ways. The only way to survive was to put on big shows wherever they would house them. They were trying to control the medium and the message.
"So things popped out of my head in a similar fashion, because that's a musician's reaction to being controlled. We lost our album tour, so that flavoured theme came through.
"Finally, we were released and got to play Splendour, and that's when the idea for the song was shared with some young bloods who love playing in that zone. Songs often take years to evolve, but they have a time and a place. It's a summer track. It sounds very Mad Max. It's hot and dry and arid. It reeks of muscle cars."
The track proves to be a 30-year, full-circle moment for Cook, who made his start playing in rock bands. He relished the opportunity. "I woke up early one morning at like 5 o'clock with the riff in my head.
"I had a lot of fun in the studio, because I got to get out my rockin' guitars and my Marshall amp, which is usually a bit too loud for what we do. Cranked it up and just went for it. It was good fun."
Aside from being a cathartic mirror of '60s oppression, 'You-Turn' represents for Mack years of experience and knowledge of what it means to be a woman who grew in and through the music industry.
"I think the power I was connecting with was Xena Warrior Princess and Elvira Mistress of the Dark," Mack states. "It's that queen of swords personality type that for women is pretty cool, because it's part of standing your turf.
"It's very hard to find that line between being a bitch and being someone who can stand their space, and not in a masculine way, actually, in a very feminine way. That's why I like The Runaways, Blondie, Chrissie Hynde, Chrissy Amphlett.
"We have a long tradition of women that have balls. It was really nice getting in touch with that. It's part of the soul element, too. It's women that make life inside their own bodies. We're the divine conduits of where it comes down. We can destroy and we can create. We can uplift and we can connect with something that is a driving force.
"Sometimes you've gotta have that and exert that, especially in the music industry. Men that are powerful and creative are seen as strident, but women are seen as ball-breaking bitches.
"Lucky for me, I have a big, mushy Red Wiggle to be the airbag in my determined behaviours, but I'm not young and I'm not pretty and the only way I can survive is by being determined.
"It does blow me away when I come off the stage and these 20-something women come up and they go, 'can I have a hug?'; and the second thing they say is, 'you are such an inspiration'.
"I think it is really important to remind people constantly that there is no end date on female power, and that you actually get stronger and wiser as you tick through the decades.
"It's good for women to keep rockin' hard right out to the edge, because that reminds people that we only get more ball breaky and more forceful as we get older and hopefully wiser – and that power's there for everyone to share and be inspired by."
Cook has had his own musical progression that has touched the hearts of many, and he relishes his newfound role of bridging the generational gap with good ol' rock & roll.
"Murray's just gone from strength to strength in his guitar playing," Mack volunteers, before adding with tongue in cheek. "Like he says, he's getting quite good at it now."
"I'm getting used to it," Cook laughs. "It's an honour really that I still have an audience after all this time and at my age. We're doing it in a different way. A lot of those heritage bands are playing to their audience who are getting older, but we're different because we get 20-somethings who grew up with The Wiggles coming to see The Soul Movers, because they're curious about what we're about – and they almost invariably stick around and say, 'we love what you're doing'."
"You should see the looks on their faces when they see Murray shredding, everything aligns," confirms Mack. "Their childhood meets their current meets their future, and they just go, 'if this is what life is gonna be like, if it has minutes like this in it, it's all good'.
"Seeing Murray in person doing what he loves in such a passionate way. How can we decide to stop doing that at any point? No one's ever gonna put that down, there's just too much joy and too much fun and creativity in it."
Thrist Trap Wiggle?!
While the epic guitarist collaboration on 'You-Turn' created a roaring monster, it has inflicted one logistical problem upon the otherwise capable band.
"I love that instrumental section with all those guitars, I have butterflies jumping around. It's just so beautiful," Mack says. "I can't wait to have people jumping around to that.
"We just need an extra guitarist to throw into one of our road cases, so we can throw them up onstage, because Murray can't actually play three guitars at once!"
Murray Cook's Soul Movers 2024 Tour DatesSat 10 Feb - Safe Sounds Festival @ Hamilton Station Hotel (Newcastle)
Sun 11 Feb - A Street Party Called Fitz @ Old Fitzroy Hotel (Sydney)
Thu 15 Feb - UNSW Roundhouse (Sydney)* DJ Murray Cook set
Fri 16 Feb - The Great Court Party @ University of Queensland (Brisbane)* DJ Murray Cook set
Sat 2 Mar - St Kilda Blues Festival (Melbourne)
Sun 3 Mar - St Kilda Blues Festival (Melbourne)
Sat 6 Apr - Cherry Bar (Melbourne)
Sun 7 Apr - Lulie Tavern (Melbourne)
Fri 12 Apr - Hamilton Station Hotel (Newcastle)
Sat 13 Apr - Django at Camelot (Sydney)
Sat 15 Jun - West Tamworth League Club (Tamworth)* DJ Murray Cook set