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ABC (MARTIN FRY) INTERVIEW [2006]

THIS PARTICULAR INTERVIEW IS GOING TO BE PRETTY MUCH FOCUSSED ON THE HITMAKERS TOUR BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO BE PART OF MY MINI-SITE FOR THE TOUR, SO LET'S START WITH HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED IN THE TOUR IN THE FIRST PLACE…

Well I'd met Howard Jones and his band before, and likewise with Toyah on the Here & Now tours and I really enjoyed their company then, so when the idea came up of touring with them I thought it would be great and I feel really positive about getting up onstage with them and I'm already feeling really positive about getting onstage and performing 'The Look Of Love' and 'Poison Arrow' and 'All Of My Heart' alongside new songs this year anyway… it all just felt good!

YOU'VE ALREADY TOUCHED ON MY NEXT QUESTION WHICH WAS ABOUT THE KIND OF SET YOU'RE GOING TO BE PLAYING, I WAS GOING TO ASK IF IT WOULD JUST BE THE OLD HITS AGAIN…

As you know I travelled round the UK with Tony Hadley when we did the 'Tony Hadley vs Martin Fry' tour and that was very different, and in some ways it was very frustrating for me just playing a few ABC songs but in other ways it was completely different type of show, but on that tour as you saw we duetted on a couple of songs and actually I'm kind of off duets now! After my TV appearance with Gaby Roslin… after that I left the country and did 40 US dates! Having said that I wouldn't mind a stab at something like 'Suffragete City' with Toyah and Howard, but I don't know yet.

TOYAH'S ACTUALLY BEEN DOING 'SWEET CHILD OF MINE' A LOT AT HER RECENT SHOWS, MAYBE THAT WOULD BE A GOOD ONE TOO?

Oh… I love that song! I was thinking of the Bowie angle first and then taking it forward…

I KNOW THAT TOYAH, LIKE YOURSELF, IS A BIG BOWIE FAN AND I SUSPECT THAT HOWARD WOULD BE HAPPY TO DO SOMETHING IN THAT DIRECTION TOO…

I've got a feeling he would. And Toyah is such a strong performer, and likewise Howard… it's actually really interesting being onstage alongside Toyah and Howard in 2006 because you want to be alongside people who are that committed to what they do, who are proud of the past, of their repertoire, but are also doing new things. In ABC that's definitely our philosophy and I know that extends to Howard Jones and Toyah…

I THINK IT'LL BE A VERY EXCITING TOUR FOR EVERYONE, IT JUST SEEMS TO HAVE A BIT OF SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE…

It is… you've got your post-punk, your punky-funky stuff and you've got your electronica so it's pretty much covering all the bases.

WILL IT BE ONE OF THOSE TOURS WHERE YOU ALL SHARE A BAND AND THEY BACK EVERYONE?

No, we'll have separate bands for this one.

AND FOR ABC FOR THIS TOUR, WHO WILL WE SEE ONSTAGE?

Um… I'm just trying to think… it's pretty early so it's not all been sorted out yet… but I've just got back from the states with Matt Bakker on guitar and Steve Kelly on keyboards and I'll be polaying with Julian Fenton in the UK, David Palmer who was originally in ABC played with me in the US but in the UK it'll be Julian, but if David is around at all he may join us for a couple of things and he knows Julian really well, and Simon Wollescroft on sax who played in the horn section last year… but the season hasn't started yet and there's always going to be the inevitable pre-season transfers! But we will be flying the ABC flag… or possibly everyone will have to get ABC tattoos!

SO WILL MANY OF YOUR NEW SONGS BE PART OF THE SET ON THE HITMAKERS TOUR?

Yeah! Actually in America we've been playing some, 'Ride', 'Sixteen Seconds To Choose', then there's 'Traffic' and maybe 'See Through You'… in America they went down a storm, I was originally thinking where can we put them in the set but they went down a real storm so it's kind of frustrating not having them out on an album now… it has been interesting putting them in the set next to the old songs though, when you climb on stage you don't want to play with people's memories but it's nice to have some new stuff and it seems that the audience does want us to play new material too… not all night but it's nice to work it through alongside a lot of the hits.

I THINK IT'S GOOD FROM AN AUDIENCE'S POINT OF VIEW – IT MAKES THE SET MORE UNEXPECTED AND IT PUTS THE OLD SONGS IN A DIFFERENT SETTING…

Well in America that worked very well for us so I imagine for this tour we'll be doing some similar things.

IS IT POSSIBLE THAT YOU'LL PLAY DIFFERENT SETS AT DIFFERENT SHOWS? SHOULD PEOPLE GO TO AS MANY SHOWS AS THEY CAN?

Oh yeah! There's going to be a different suit every night at least!

HOW MANY SUITS DO YOU HAVE?

I don't know… I really don't know, but one good thing that happened after 'Just The Two Of Us' was that they let me have the suit I wore to do a duet with Curtis Stigers… but I have them in purple hues, platinum hues… I don't know!

SO HERE'S A BIG QUESTION… IS THE NEW ALBUM FINISHED NOW?

Not yet, we've got to put some strings on it… (laughs) it's not finished!

WHEN DID YOU START WORKING ON IT?

(laughs) A long time ago… with David Palmer and Chuck Prentice… it took a while to evolve but to be realistic most of the stuff has been written in the last twelve months.

DOES THE WHOLE PROCESS OF WORKING ON NEW STUFF GIVE AN EXTRA BOOST TO EVERYTHING ELSE YOU'RE DOING?

Oh yes… now it's been so long since we put out a new album that it's kind of therapeutic to play new songs, now – like a lot of artists – I just want to put a record out and it's very frustrating when you can't do that but it has to be the right record…

AND IS THIS ALBUM SHAPING UP TO BE THE RIGHT RECORD?

Oh yes… we've even got the secret track organised and everything! Hell yeah…

IS IT CALLED 'TRAFFIC'?

Oh no, that's just a working title, ABC albums have to have greater and more philosophical titles than that! I'm trying to think of something suitably grand at the moment!

DO YOU ALREADY HAVE A LABEL IN PLACE TO RELEASE THE ALBUM?

No, that all fell apart so at the moment we're just starting out again looking for a deal and starting the negotiations.

I GUESS DOING IT THAT WAY ROUND MEANS THAT YOU CAN JUST GET ON WITH IT WITHOUT ANYONE LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER AND TRYING TO PUSH YOU IN DIRECTIONS YOU DON'T WANT TO GO?

Yes, but to be fair, back in the day, back in the eighties people did pretty much leave us to our own devices so we could do pretty much whatever we wanted to do. But it is a very different musical climate now… but when I see people like the Pet Shop Boys putting their record out, and Scritti Politti, I know that they are very valid records and I know that ABC works in that tradition too… or Primal Scream or the Chili Peppers or Depeche Mode, any of those bands…

ARE THERE ANY SHOWS ON THE TOUR YOU'RE PARTICULARLY LOOKING FORWARD TO?

Well before the Hitamkers tour there's the Hollywood Bowl show in September with Human League and the Psychedelic Furs and I'm looking forward to that… the tickets have sold well so that'll be really good. I've played with the Human League before although I haven't played with the Psychedelic Furs but I think it'll be a very interesting crowd. Apart from that I haven't played on a strong bill for a long time so I'm looking forward to getting round the UK with Howard and Toyah playing different things…

But to answer your question I have to play Manchester again because last time I was there someone referred to Manchester as Sheffield, and because I was born in Manchester and grew up in Sheffield I don't know if they're going to let me back in! But wherever we are I just know it's going to be such a strong show!

I'm very concious that there's lots of people out there at the same time and we have to give the best show. I know Howard and Toyah won't let me down and I'm not going to let them down!

JULY 2006

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