Fans of FX’s “Archer” were warned that things would be different before its new season even premiered, with creator Adam Reed calling it a “radical departure” — supposedly because he got bored with the show’s spy-centric storylines.
Of course, when season five kicked off on Monday, we learned just how radical that departure really was: ISIS is gone, and the show has been rebooted as “Archer Vice,” with its cast of characters forced to move a literal ton of cocaine to make ends meet. Oh, and in a plotline only this show could pull off, longtime secretary/erotic asphyxiation enthusiast Cheryl Tunt has decided to become a country music superstar … dubbing herself “Cherlene” and hitting the road to make it big.
Helping her along the way is Kevn Kinney, frontman of long-running Southern Rock stalwarts Drivin’ N’ Cryin,’ who contributed songs for Cherlene to belt out on her way to the top. But it’s not actress Judy Greer (who voices Cheryl) doing the singing; it’s relative unknown Jessy Lynn Martens, who grew up performing alongside Bluegrass legends like Chubby Wise, and now finds herself fronting an entirely different type of band: an animated one.
And, no, she can’t believe it, either.
“I grew up being the biggest fan of Jessica Rabbit, like, I wanted to be her, but unless I get a breast augmentation and a good dye job, I’m never going to look like that, so this is, like, a dream come true for me,” she laughed. “I hate to point how much of a nerd I am, but I bought the episode on iTunes and have watched it like three times already.”
Originally, Martens was hired only to play fiddle on a handful of tracks during recording sessions — there’s also a full Cherlene album coming digitally on February 17 — but, after a few drinks, and at Kinney’s insistence, she eventually stepped into the vocal booth to record a few scratch tracks, which were originally intended to be used as reference for animators and a singer hired to perform as Cherlene. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“Kevn called me up to go cut some fiddle and mandolin racks, and then a couple of whiskeys in, he said ’Why don’t you sing on this?’ And then before I knew it, I was coming back there the next week to finish the record,” she said. “I think they had another person in contract, so I wasn’t really taking it all that seriously, we were basically just drinking and hanging out and they got serious about it. I recorded some scratch vocals and then the next thing I know they were like ’Why don’t you come up here and finish it?'”
But just because she’s providing Cherlene’s singing voice, don’t think Martens is privy to any inside info about “Archer’s” new season … in fact, aside from a few clues she gathered from the music — “It’s a country record, so expect heartbreak and drugs and sex and rock and roll,” she said. — she’s basically been enjoying the experience as a fan. Which means that, just like the rest of us, she caught Cherlene’s debut at the end of Monday night’s episode; with, appropriately, a few drinks nearby.
“I had absolutely no idea, at all; I wasn’t even sure that they were going to get to the fact that she was a country music singer in the first episode,” Martens said. “It’s my birthday, and we were having a party at a bar, and we had all my friends there, so they put it on the big-screen TV and we had a viewing party birthday bash, and when they went into the song, it was so cool. It looked right and it felt right and I’m just so happy that it didn’t come out bogus.”