Wearing gold lame and crooning suave, blue-eyed soul, Martin Fry has always seemed the quintessential frontman. But the lead singer of ’80s hitmakers ABC stepped behind the scenes for a change while working on actor Hugh Grant’s latest film.
Fry was summoned to America earlier this year to coach his fellow Englishman, who plays an ’80s pop star opposite Drew Barrymore in the upcoming romantic comedy “Music & Lyrics By.” “I was like his stunt double, vocally,” jokes Fry. “Warner Bros. figured, ‘If Hugh Grant was a pop star, who would he sound like?’ And I guess my name came up.”
Fry recorded vocals for a couple of songs written by Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger that will appear on the soundtrack. “Hugh listened to what I’d done, and then used that as a sort of springboard,” Fry says.
In the film, Grant plays Alex Fletcher, an artist attempting a comeback by writing a song for pop star Cora Corman — a “Britney Spears/Shakira-type character,” Fry says. Fletcher, who hasn’t written a tune in years, must collaborate with his “plant lady,” played by Drew Barrymore. The movie, directed by Marc Lawrence, is set for a holiday 2006 release.
Fry adds that Grant “did well” in his role. “I think his voice sort of sounds like John Cale, actually! I gave him a few moves as well, but he’s pretty clued-up,” he says. “He knows what he’s doing.”
Meanwhile, Fry is putting the finishing touches on the first new ABC album since 1997’s “Skyscraping,” which didn’t see an American release. Tentatively titled “Traffic,” the disc is to feature songs like “The Very First Time,” “Sixteen Seconds To Choose,” and “Ride,” all premiered on ABC’s recent U.S. tour. Fry’s co-writers include drummer David Palmer, who played in ABC’s early-’80s lineup, and keyboardist Chuck Kentis.
“It’s quite muscular sounding,” says Fry of the album. “I’m going to write a couple more songs and put some orchestration on it, but it’s really taking shape.” A release date of early 2007 is planned, with a label to be determined.
ABC will return to America in August and September for a quartet of western dates, before beginning the Hitmakers Tour, with Howard Jones and Toyah, in the United Kingdom this autumn.