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Rhesus To Be Cheerful
Now we’ve got the obligatory primate pun out of the way, it’s time for an exclusive chat with Arctic Monkeys. Installed in a super-trendy London club, frontman Alex Turner and his bandmates discuss the media spotlight, an unlikely friendship with P. Diddy and why, despite their jet-setter lifestyles, these humble Yorkshiremen are just homebirds at heart. Words: Olaf Tyaransen
Olaf Tyaransen, 25 Jul 2011
It’s an overcast May afternoon in a fashionable part of east London, and soon after the four members of The Arctic Monkeys amble into the bar of exclusive private members club Shoreditch House, the fire alarm goes off.
A moment earlier there’d been a nicely un-intrusive conversational buzz about the place, but suddenly all is drowned in headache-inducing sound. It doesn’t help that the alarm sounds like the final shriekings of a fat opera singer dying mid-orgasm. On repeat. I won’t even attempt the phonetics...
Hilariously, few people move to flee the building. Instead, they all just look mildly annoyed. With good cause, as it transpires.
“I’m terribly sorry about this,” a stressed-out Polish waitress explains to the band’s affable but aggrieved longtime manager, Geoff Barradale. “There isn’t a fire, but there’s some kind of glitch in the computer system, and I’m afraid the alarm won’t stop for another 15 minutes.”
The bells! The bells! Unfortunately, the band are here to do press interviews to promote their fourth long-player, Suck It And See, and their schedule is so tight that interviews have to go ahead as planned, despite the din.
Your Hot Press scribe isn’t overly concerned. My own interview isn’t starting for another 30 minutes.
So while waiting for the sirens to stop wailing, and smiling sympathetically at colleagues who have to talk to them over the noise (there isn’t time to move to a quieter location), here’s a quick potted history of the Monkeys’ evolution from spotty teen wannabes to full-blown mega-selling rock stars.
First formed in Sheffield by a group of indie-loving school-friends in 2002, the Arctic Monkeys have shed and gained one or two members over the years. The current core line-up is Alex Turner (vocals and lead guitar), Jamie Cook (rhythm guitar and
backing vocals), Nick O’Malley (bass) and Matt Helders (drums).
Signed to Domino in 2005, their 2006 debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, remains the fastest-selling debut album in British chart history, trumping Oasis’s record for Definitely Maybe. Combining bardic barrages of cleverly observant lyrics (“All the weekend rock stars in the toilets/ practicing their lines”) with short, sharp and spiky guitar riffs, the album instantly made the band Sheffield’s biggest musical export since Pulp.