The Soul Movers do what they say on the tin. They summon classic soul and move you in the now by even amounts of experience and passion for the musical form.
Vocalist Lizzie Mack hails from Perth and for many years was a fixture on the WA music scene, always seen at the best gigs and the post-show gatherings. Many years ago she moved to Melbourne with her then-partner, Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) and this rockin’ soul experience soon came to be.
“Deniz and I formed The Soul Movers around two years into our relationship, Mack recalls. “We enjoyed so many of the same original artists, but it was probably me buying an original vinyl copy of Aretha Arrives that did it. He had heard me singing Etta in the shower and been very enthusiastic about the sounds I was getting but the idea of recording an album came when I was living in Melbourne in around 2007. We wrote recorded and mastered (debut) On The Inside in 10 days. I did the vocals in one three-hour hit and bam! Hot out of the oven it was.
“We went on to do some local and US shows and toured Spain in 2009 but Deniz and I split - he was in Australia less than half the year - and The Soul Movers got put on the backburner until Murray heard the album and sent me a message on Facebook wanting to meet for a coffee. He’d been out of his red skivvy for a year or so and was interested in finding some satisfying new musical outlets.”
That would be guitarist, Murray Cook, who was indeed formerly of The Wiggles. Post-children’s entertainment, he was keen to get back to more of a rock’n’roll arena and The Soul Movers had previously caught his ear.
“I finished performing in The Wiggles at the end of 2012 and I felt a little lost for a while,” Cook recalls. “I was playing with a few other bands which was fun, but it was really as a sideman.
“Playing with The Soul Movers has given me a greater creative role that I missed from my Wiggles days, as I am closely involved in shaping the band’s direction and in co-writing many of the songs.”
Soul music and R&B has been a musical force throughout their lives. For Mack, it stems right back to her childhood.
“I can honestly say Dusty Springfield was one of my first true loves,” she enthuses. “I played and sing I Only Want To Be With You a hundred times a day around the age of six. Drove everyone mad. Elvis, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison were all white soul singers of a sort and with bands like The Platters - one of my Dad’s favourites along with Dino Martino - and the ‘60s girl bands being played daily around the house it was a passionate mix.”
There’s been a few member changes for The Soul Movers over the years, but the current line-up appears to have this thing down, as shown on their 2017 album, Testify!
“Andy Newman (bass) has been my lone surviving player,” Mack explains. “We feel the same way about music and have very aligned musical tastes. Even when I play a bit of jazz Andy tags along. He is incredibly talented, creative and reliable - the musical trifecta for keeping a band together and moving forward productively.
“Darren Ryan joined us on drums around 18 months ago. He’s a solid rock drummer and really is the human metronome. We push him to play lighter with more movement, but he sticks to his grooves and that can be a good thing in terms of making space for our new keys man, Marko Simec. I call him Good Vibes for all the obvious reasons but also because he puts the soul in our sound these days. He almost dances as he steers those keys and has a passion for soul music that knows no bounds.
“Murray brought an incredible range, restraint, respect for other players - he is such a generous player in terms of soloing, etc - but more importantly for me, a collaborator that has allowed me to do more than just keep writing. Murray really is the yang to my yin. He grounds and supports my ideas and this process turns on his own inspiration. We got lucky - so many of our best songs are those immediate 15-minute-born-whole-jobs.”
The Soul Movers are soon off to the US to gig from Los Angeles to New York with plans to tour and record with The Swampers at the legendary Muscle Shoals Studios in Sheffield, Alabama as well as Sun and Royal Studios, Memphis.
“It’s a really great band that makes a real emotional connection to its audience,” Cook says. “They’re great people and I’m having a lot of fun playing with them onstage and in the studio.”
The Soul Movers play the opening night of Hidden Treasures on Thursday, July 5, at The Navy Club the July 6 at Ellington; July 7 at Settler's Tavern, Margaret River and on Sunday, July 8, at Four5Nine Bar (Rosemount Hotel) with The JAC.