Bang Shang a Lang
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Play your guitar with Murray
The Wiggles

Interview conducted for Guitar Player Magazine.
Interview with Murray Cook by Michel Bourgeau

Meet Murray Cook, the red-shirted guitar player, and member of the ultra popular Australian children's band the Wiggles. If you don't know The Wiggles, they're four world-class entertainers who sing and dance catchy toons for our tots. Since Cook is one of the first guitarist millions of kids will see, he may just turn out to be one of the most influential guitarist in the world.

Since "The Wiggles" debut in 1991, the Sydney-based group has reigned as Australia's most popular children's entertainers striking gold at home and abroad with many albums, videos, a movie and live shows. They now have taken America by storm since their breakthrough debut in 1999.

The Wiggles' ability to write well-crafted songs and communicate with youngsters in a way that is both entertaining and educational has made the quartet a joy for children and parents alike. America's music community has also taken the Wiggles to heart with well-known fans now including rock stars John Fogerty (who recorded 2 songs with them on their new album), James Hetfield, Duff McKagan and Mick Fleetwood.

What gear do you use onstage, at home and in the studio?
Onstage, I use the Maton Mastersound 500 guitar, which is Australian made, connected in a Line 6 Pod 2.0 that goes straight into the board. At home or in the studio, my guitars are a '53 Les Paul gold top, '64 Fender Strat, James Burton Fender Telecaster, Maton Mastersound 500 and a more recent Les Paul. I also have a Fender Jazzman bass. As for Amps, I have a Marshall (Head & Box Combo), Fender Twin and a Bad Cat (I bought while in the US, it has a great sound).

Who were your influences growing up?
I grew up in the '60 so for me The Beatles were my main influence. I also love The Rolling Stones, The Who and Eric Clapton. These days I like Richard Thompson. I also try to listen to lots of different styles and new stuff.

When did you start playing?
I started when I was 12 years old. I took some lessons from a great teacher who was in a rock band. I learned a lot from him. To me the best way to learn guitar is to form a band.

How do you approach song writing with The Wiggles?
At the early stages of our careers we used to write individually. But these days we like to write as a group. We get together, just a few weeks before going in the studio, with John Field, Dominic Lindsay and sometimes Paul Paddick (AKA Captain Feathersword).

What is the best thing about song writing with the Wiggles?
It's the variety of styles we can do. From rock n' roll to polka, anything goes.

How do you record these songs in the studio?
Lately we've been playing as a live band in the studio instead of building the track up. We get a better vibe.

Do you play in another band or only with The Wiggles?
I play in another band called Bang Shang a Lang.

What type of music do you play and what's your role in this band?
We play cool stuff from the 60's and 70's. I play guitar whenever I'm not touring with The Wiggles.

What do you play when you pick up a guitar at home?
I like to play rock n' roll from the 60's and 70's. I always go back to The Beatles; it's still fresh despite all those years.

Favorite guitar song?
Layla by Eric Clapton (the original version and not the acoustic one).

Favorite Wiggles guitar song?
Play your guitar with Murray, of course. When we play that song live I get to play like a rock 'n roll star. Eagle Rock would be second.

Are you conscious of the fact that you might be the first guitarist millions of kids will ever see?
I always think that if it inspires kids to play guitar later on that would be great. I think it would be really nice if in 15 years I read that somebody got into guitar playing because of the Wiggles. I know that would be fantastic.

http://www.thewiggles.com.au/ (The Wiggles)
http://www.maton.com.au/ (Maton guitars)
http://www.line6.com/ (Line 6 POD)
http://www.badcatamps.com/ (Bad Cat Amps)
http://www.rtlist.net/ (Richard Thompson)
http://www.bangshangalang.com/ (Bang Shang a Lang)
- Guitar Player Magazine


Discography

Unreal, Orange Peel! - Album
Everyone's a Star - EP
Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nIX9SiGgHI

Photos

Bio

There was a time when musicians in Sydney could play seven nights a week in pubs, clubs and wine bars all over town. Four of those who did often bumped into each other while on the same bills as big overseas or homegrown headline acts.

In the late 1990s these four found themselves in need of a musical re-generation in the guise of BANG SHANG a LANG!

Mark Mulligan, Bruce Carter and Murray Cook had been in The Transistors (with Mark and Murray later going on to form Finger Guns); Clyde Bramley was playing bass for the Hoodoo Gurus touring the world with U2 and the Bangles and churning out hits that are still the staple of Aussie rock today.........meanwhile Murray eventually went on to a career path that somehow led to wearing a red skivvy in The Wiggles but that's another, much longer story!

On the other side of the world resided a young lad named RIchard Stevens who had played in local bands around his hometown of Leeds in the UK, little realising his destiny would see him meet up with the other four in pounding the keys for BANG SHANG a LANG from 2003 onwards.

These five were still being driven by the passion to perform and, armed with a clutch of well-chosen covers of their favourite songs from the 70s and 80s in addition to superb new original material by charismatic front-man/guitarist Mark Mulligan, they began to storm back into the pubs and clubs of Sydney; such was their popularity that they scored a monthly residency at the gloriously appointed Unity Hall Hotel in Sydney's beautiful Balmain - now entering their fourth hugely successful year at this historic venue. Such has been BANG SHANG a LANG’s huge popularity at this venue that the pub has even created a fabulous drink called the ‘Harvey Bang Shang a Langer’ in honour of the band – exclusively available at this hotel only!

With not one but two masterful CDs recorded recently, featuring a smattering of their live favourites on 'UNREAL, ORANGE PEEL!' as well as some of Mark Mulligan's superb pop/rock classic originals on the 4-track EP 'EVERYONE'S A STAR', the band is now hitting the airwaves of Sydney and even Canada and the U.S [thanks to support from the band’s cult-like following in North America] with airplay on some of Sydney's hip and happening stations as well as Canada's Majic100-FM!!

Big things are just starting to happen for BANG SHANG a LANG – you can read much more about the band through their official website as well as on their MySpace page!
www.myspace.com/bangshangalangtheband