With new release and tour, the Arctic Monkeys prove to be much more than a flash in the modern-rock pan. Interview with Alex Turner ahead of House of Blues show.
Every year there is a hot new band coming out of England. One of the biggest acts to break out of the U.K. over the past five years or so is the Arctic Monkeys.
The group, which hit the Brit scene in 2006, could have gone the way of Gene or Kitchens of Distinction, on the way to obscurity, or followed in the tracks of Blur or Oasis, toward the English stratosphere.
The Arctic Monkeys, however, blew up.
The band’s debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, became and still is the best-selling debut disc in British history. The disc went quadruple platinum, surpassing Oasis’ initial effort.
The members of Arctic Monkeys were just kids when they went to the Top of the Pops. The average age of the band’s members when it broke was 20 and quickly they became a household name in Ole Blighty.
“We were so young,” vocalist-guitarist Alex Turner tells Atlantic City Weekly. “We’re a lot different than we were then.”
The members of the band were shy, snide and mysterious. Turner would perform under a hoodie and his expression was as blank as a chalkboard that was just erased.
In addition to mass hoopla about the band being the next Beatles in terms of popularity, the Buzzcocks-inspired blast of their initial songs helped the act find a fan base in America.
“We knew it was going to be a bit different than what we experienced in Britain,” Turner says. “It’s much bigger [in the U.S.]”
But the Arctic Monkeys, who will perform Friday, Oct. 14, at the House of Blues at Showboat in Atlantic City, keep building on their faithful following by releasing consistently solid albums.
The prolific band has released five albums in six years. The initial effort, which featured a number of raucous but catchy tracks, set the bar awfully high for the band. However, each of its next three albums, especially the under-heralded 2007 offering Favourite Worst Nightmare, was in the sonic ballpark in terms of quality.
“We keep it pretty simple as far as the approach goes,” Turner says. “We just try to make the best possible album.”
The Arctic Monkeys, which also includes guitarist Jamie Cook, bassist Nick O’Malley and drummer Matt Helders, have just released an album, which actually exceeds its debut.
The band’s latest, Suck It And See, which dropped in June, hits listeners in the gut. Songs such as the initial single, “Brick By Brick” and “She’s Thunderstorms” are absolute anthems. Many of the other new tracks are about as catchy, even if they require a few additional spins. It’s clearly one of the better rock releases of the year, full of compelling, rousing rock ‘n’ roll.
“We just want to challenge ourselves every time we make an album,” Turner says. “There’s no big formula. With each album, including our new one, we just work as hard as we can and see what happens.”
The future looks bright for the Arctic Monkeys since the group is very young (mid-20s) for a band that has accomplished so much in a short period of time. It’s not uncommon for a band to break out with a very good first album like the Arctic Monkeys did with its initial offering. But it is unusual for a group to continue making strides year after year and album after album.
The Arctic Monkeys are a very intense bunch that sets out to top each album it releases.
“We want to keep getting better at what we do,” Turner says. “We’re compelled to make the best music possible. We’re never lazy where music is concerned. It’s what drives us. We want to keep growing. It’s great that we’re all still pretty young. We have that drive and that energy. We want to be as good as we can possibly be.”
There is a tangible chemistry the band possesses.
“I think that’s an important thing to have,” Turner adds.
“If you have that, you have longevity and fortunately we all get along and we inspire each other. That’s what the great bands have.”
That’s evident for U2, which has been around for more than 30-plus years with the same four members. And despite the fact that R.E.M. split up a few weeks ago, three of its four members were with the band for 31 years.
Both U2 and R.E.M. made many great albums over the years and appeared to know every move each member of the band would make live.
Much had to do with a set lineup.
“It’s good to have that [stability],” Turner says. “I think we have it with our band. We’re just going to go out and do the best we can for years to come. There’s no reason to slow down. I think we’re at our best right now. The songs are coming and we’re having fun on tour. It’s hard to ask for more than that. It’s very satisfying being in this band.”
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