NEW YORK (Billboard) - Infant Sorrow seems to have it all: a charismatic, good-looking frontman; several talented and well-known musicians; an extensive, major-label-funded marketing campaign; and a No. 1 debut on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart.
There’s only one wrinkle: Infant Sorrow isn’t a real band.
Infant Sorrow’s debut album, “Get Him to the Greek,” is in fact the soundtrack to the film of the same name. And star Russell Brand, who plays hard-partying rocker Aldous Snow, sings all the tracks on the record. The songs were written and recorded by a number of high-profile British rockers, including Carl Barat of the Libertines and Jarvis Cocker. Snippets of several songs do appear in the film, but fans who want to hear full versions can pick up the album, which has sold 3,500 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“Russell and the film company felt very strongly about doing something like this as opposed to a traditional soundtrack,” says Kim Garner, senior vice president of marketing and artist development at Universal Republic. “We wanted to release it like we would an actual rock band’s album.”
The album’s sales were assisted by the box-office success of the film, which opened at No. 2 and grossed $17.5 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. But Universal Republic didn’t want to rely solely on the film to drive publicity.
“We curated a piece with the film company about the music and the movie, and that will run on the HD wall in Best Buy stores through June,” Garner says. “We also shot a proper music video, which Russell directed, and that premiered on Vevo. Russell and Jonah (Hill, who co-stars in the movie) also made celebrity playlists for iTunes, which helped us get great placement there.”
Universal Republic also produced special content for Record Store Day and commissioned a Union Jack Fender guitar like the one Brand’s character uses in the film as a prize for a label-run contest in alternative weeklies around the country.
“We took the music for this film very seriously,” Brand says. “We got brilliant writers and tried to make it as authentic as possible. We wanted songs that were quality and quirky — like a rock version of Flight of the Conchords.”
“Get Him to the Greek” certainly has plenty of “are they kidding?” moments, including a song called “F.O.H.,” written by Cocker, that describes the joys of committing a particular sex act while high on heroin. The single, “Say Yes,” encourages rampant drug consumption.
“When I think about my models for the Aldous character, I think about hedonistic late-‘60s stars like Iggy Pop, Robert Plant, (David) Bowie and (Mick) Jagger,” Brand says. “These were guys who just didn’t care.”
Despite the album’s debut success, Brand says he probably won’t quit acting to front Infant Sorrow full-time. The band did play a Los Angeles set recently, with members taking turns at the mic and Brand stepping in for two songs. Garner says special appearances, such as performances at award shows, might be possible in the future. But for now, Brand says he is sticking to acting. Unless ...
“If it becomes a Billboard No. 1 album,” he says, “I would throw myself into a musical career with bare-assed ambition.”