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The Blagger's Guide To: Arctic Monkeys


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Next week (May 11th), Arctic Monkeys drop their long-awaited sixth album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’. Next weekend, all anyone will be talking about is the loveably cocky rock’n’roll band.

From fan theories and favourite tracks to fun facts, conversations will be rife with Arctics-based knowledge. Ever found yourself in front of an Arctics aficionado and stumbled over your words? Wanted to pipe into that passionate conversation about which album is better, but got nothing? Just felt left out of indie twitter? For the uninitiated fan that doesn’t want to feel completely alienated next week - don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

Obviously, you’ll need to know the names of the band members: Alex Turner, the cocky and confident front man you definitely already know. Jamie Cook, lead guitar. Nick O’Malley, bass guitar. And then there’s Matt Helders on drums.

You probably also need to know the names of the albums in their back catalogue in case of cross referencing. Their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, came out in 2006 and remains to hold the record for the fastest selling debut album by a band, shifting over 360,000 copies in its first week of release.

This was followed up by 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare, 2009’s Humbug, and 2011’s Suck It And See. The Monkeys enjoy changing their sound with each album, but their biggest leap came with 2013’s AM - one of the biggest selling vinyl albums of the decade, and the record considered to have allowed the band to completely break through in America.

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino comes after a long hiatus - so understandably, fans are excited. Produced again with long-time collaborator James Ford, who has worked with the band on all albums except their debut (another fact for you there), its “as close as we’ve ever been to hearing an Alex Turner solo record.” It’s probably not a fan pleaser, but it’s the band’s most intriguing work to date.

Anything else? Submarine is the film Alex Turner wrote six solo songs for and quickly became a cult classic. In the eyes of Arctics fans, model Alexa Chung is the only girl right for Alex (read his love letter to her here). They're considered as one of the first bands to become famous through the internet. Oh, and they're from Sheffield - that's important.

Now the basics are out the way, here’s a list of ten facts you can drop next week to really up your cool-factor.

For example, did you know that the song ‘Brianstorm’ from Favourite Worst Nightmare was inspired by a Japanese fan who managed to make his way into the band’s dressing room while playing in Osaka? “When he left the room, we were a bit freaked out by his presence,” says Alex, “So we did a brainstorm for what he was like, drew a little picture and wrote things about him.”

Miles Kane, Alex Turner’s collaborator in his other band The Last Shadow Puppets (that's a whole other article), plays guitar on the studio versions of ‘505’ (Favourite Worst Nightmare) and ‘The Bakery’ (which appears on the ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ single).

The band's guitarist Jamie Cook (or Cookie for short) worked as a tiler well into the band’s success after the first album. He even flew back from their sold out tour to complete a job he had started for a client. He says he worked in London as he could charge more in the capital than he could at home in Sheffield.

You could also tell your mates that after signing a $750,000 publishing deal with EMI, Alex Turner splashed his cash by buying himself a car. Mercedes? BMW? No, he got himself a Vauxhall Corsa.

When drumming for P Diddy’s band Dirty Money, Matt Helders was bestowed the alias Rufus Black as to not ruin his indie street cred. Diddy said "I didn't wanna fuck up the great thing Matt’s got going on. He is down with my Dirty Money crew, but whenever he's playing with us, he's Rufus Black.”

Matt Helders is also a talented producer and has remixed The Hives’ ‘We Rule the World (T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.)’, Paul Weller’s ‘That Dangerous Age’, Duran Duran’s ‘Skin Divers’ and Roots Manuva's ‘Again & Again’.

Here's a fun fact: track ‘Leave Before The Lights Come On’, despite being originally written for their debut, didn’t make the album and was released as a single the year after. It’s the only single ever released by Arctic Monkeys that hasn’t featured on an an album.

They’re not massive fans of touring on a bus due to their facilities. Matt once told NME “My curtain doesn’t work either. It doesn’t close. I want Egyptian silk bedding. Goose pillows. I want an en-suite. Sometimes I can’t be bothered to get up to go to the toilet, however much I need a piss. It’s the only reason I sleep on the bottom now, ‘cos I’m more likely to get out!”

Originally, Matt wanted to play guitar in the band - but after getting their guitars for Christmas and claiming their roles in the band, Alex and Jamie told him that drums were the only instruments left. He took up boxing classes to ensure he had the stamina in him to keep up with the band’s songs.

And finally? Suck It And See was the last album to be recorded at the legendary recording studios Sound City. Amazing.

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