Arts

ABC are vintage but good vintage says Martin Fry

Poison Arrow, The Look of Love, When Smokey Sings, anyone? If you're a child of the decade or a fan of its music, ABC will pretty much spell '80s'. Michael Jackson spoke to frontman and founding member Martin Fry

It's been a fascinating 34 years says Martin Fry of ABC
Michael Jackson

EVERY decade in music has its definitive albums, and when new wave pop group ABC released The Lexicon of love in 1982 it had just such a defining impact. The band have had their highs and lows in the intervening decades and members have come and gone, but with the release of The Lexicon of Love II earlier this year, ABC are embracing a new era. Next week the band will play a rare Belfast show at The Limelight.

Readers who were around in the 80s will be familiar with chart hits such as The Look of Love, Poison Arrow, and All of My Heart, but frontman Martin Fry, now the group’s sole original member, says the new album has attracted the attention of a younger generation.

“We put out our new record in May and we seem to have picked up some new fans along the way,” he says. “We’re playing to a multi-generational audience these days that has spanned through the decades. From some of the mums and dads who were there watching Top of the Pops in 1982, through to a whole generation who are interested in bands from that era. It has been a fascinating 34 years.”

ABC have continued to excite and entertain audiences throughout the years; however, Fry has always been conscious of the fact that many of their songs are firmly rooted in the 80s, and the frontman even considered exiting the stage during the 90s.

"When I went to see bands like The Prodigy, Pulp, Blur and Oasis, I started to think my time had been and gone because I was a child of the 1980s” he recalls. “Then you realise that there still is an audience out there for what you do.”

While playing their older hits is inevitable, Fry believes ABC have a different approach to other bands from the same era who are still on tour.

“You don’t want to caricature yourself and keep repeating the same formula over and over again,” he insists. “I played a lot shows at rewind festivals and 80s festivals, and I looked at some the acts and I think a lot of them miss the point about nostalgia.

“The irony is nostalgia has nothing to do with the past – it’s all about how you feel in 2016. People have great memories of a different time but nobody can go back in time unless they’ve got a time machine. You get up on that stage and you rock it and hit that crowd hard, but you’re doing it in 2016.”

Revisiting the past is impossible, as Fry recognises, but The Lexicon of Love II is undeniably a sequel to the band’s debut album. For Fry it was vitally important for him to have the opportunity to have a follow up to that release.

“I was very ill with cancer in the late 80s and I couldn’t talk for a long time, so I think a part of me regrets that and I’m trying to put that right now,” he explains. “I think making the new record is putting a lot of things right in my mind that we should really have followed up after lexicon of love and we never did.”

Although it's a sequel, Fry was insistent that he wanted to do something fresh with the record

“I wanted to make new songs but make it seem like it was an artefact from that period,” he says. “It wasn’t about chasing the sounds of the 1980s, it was about making a record now, but I wanted to sign post it and link it to The Lexicon of Love.”

Fry is confident that the Belfast gig will be one of their best, and that ABC will receive a typical Belfast welcome.

“We played in Belfast a couple of years ago and the response was fantastic,” he enthuses. “It was a really warm, sing-along welcoming so I’m really looking forward to the show. Some of the most recent gigs have been some of the best gigs we’ve played. We’re vintage – but we’re a good vintage.”

:: ABC play at Belfast’s Limelight on November 15. For info, see: www.limelight.com

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