Arctic monkeys

Biography

Members: Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Andy Nicholson, Matt Helders

Active: 2002-present

Arctic Monkeys are a four-piece indie rock band from High Green, a suburb of Sheffield, England . Their first two singles, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down", both went straight to number one in the UK Singles Chart, and the band's debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, holds the record for the largest first week sales of a debut album in UK history. The band won "Best New Act" at the 2006 Brit Awards, and went down in history at the 2006 NME Awards in becoming the first band to win "Best New Band" and "Best British Band" in the same year.

The band's cocky attitude and northern roots, often seen as a key element of the band's style, have seen them billed as a "northern Libertines", while their sound and some would say wry lyrics (even going as far as suggesting them to be social commentary) have been compared to The Jam, Blur, Oasis, and Pulp.

HISTORY

In 2002, Turner and Cook asked for instruments as a Christmas present. They both received guitars as presents. Matt Helders took up drums to form a band with them. Although it has been reported that they named themselves after Helders' uncle's band, they later admitted that this wasn't true, telling the Bolton Evening News that they had made the story up because they were bored in a previous interview, and were amazed that it had been accepted as fact; somewhat missing the point that there was no reason for people reading the previous interview not to believe they were named after Helder's uncle's band. They began rehearsing in a warehouse in Neepsend. Their first gig came on 13 June 2003 at The Grapes in Sheffield city-centre.

They first started to gain the attention of the mainstream public when their demos were made available to download on the internet in late 2004. Around this time they began to receive a great deal of attention from BBC Radio 1 and the British tabloid press. They had already had several sold out gigs in Sheffield by this point and their reputation was building up.

Their popularity rapidly grew after several shows. Mark "The Sheriff" Bull, a local amateur photographer (not to be confused with James Sheriff who was a college friend who administers the band's website), and passionate music fan, made the contents of Beneath the Boardwalk ? which he named himself rather than use the term "demo" again - freely available to download from his webpage. These tracks quickly became available on several peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

In May 2005, Arctic Monkeys released their first EP, Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys, featuring the songs "Fake Tales of San Francisco" and "From the Ritz to the Rubble". This release was limited to 1000 CDs and 500 7" records, but was also available to download from the iTunes Music Store.

Their appearance on the Carling Stage at the 2005 Reading and Leeds Festivals was hyped by much of the music press NME in particular and the band was received by an unusually large crowd for the billing they played. The critically acclaimed performance even included spontaneous sing-alongs from the band's most devoted fans. Impressively, this included tracks that were only available as demos on the Internet. It was at this time that vocalist Alex Turner took the opportunity to rebuff claims that his band could not live up to the hype that has followed their emergence, and declared, "It feels like a moment, us playing here."

RECORD DEALS

Originally the band resisted signing to a record deal, to the extent that record company scouts were refused guaranteed guest list entry for their gigs. Their logic - "We've got this far without them - why should we let them in", was illustrated with a series of sell-out gigs across the UK. October 2005 saw the band sell out the London Astoria, with 2000 fans singing the words to every song despite the band having released a single limited edition EP. Declaring their rise to stardom via the Internet "amazing", Turner added "I'm sure one day it will come back and bite us in the arse". The band's novel method of reaching the number 1 spot has led some to suggest that it could signal a change in how new bands achieve recognition.

The grass-roots, chat-room frenzy surrounding the band eventually lured record company scouts. Although originally intending to go it alone, the band ended up signing to Domino Records in June 2005. The temptation of money saw the band almost sign for "another label", but the band were attracted by Domino owner Laurence Bell, who ran the label from his flat and only signed bands that he liked personally The UK's Daily Star tabloid newspaper reported that this was followed in October 2005 by a ?1m publishing deal with EMI and a ?725,000 contract with Epic for the United States. The band denied this on their website, which dubbed the paper "The Daily Stir".

INITIAL RELEASES

Their first single after signing to Domino, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", was released on 17 October 2005 and went straight to #1 on the UK Singles Chart, selling 38,962 copies and beating McFly and Robbie Williams in the process. Three days later, the band made their first appearance on the cover of NME. Their second single, "When the Sun Goes Down" (having been renamed from its original guise as "Scummy"), was released on 16 January 2006 and also went straight to #1 on the UK Singles Chart, selling 38,922 copies and dethroning Shayne Ward.

The band finished recording their debut album at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire during September 2005. Its name was confirmed as Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not in early December, with release originally intended for 30 January 2006. Although widely expected to be one of the biggest releases of 2006 with thousands of copies pre-ordered, early versions of many tracks were already freely available to download from the band's pre-label demo CDs. On 5 January 2006, Domino announced the album's release would be brought forward one week to the 23 January apparently "due to high demand". While the same thing was done with the release of Franz Ferdinand, there has been continued speculation that the move came as a result of the album's leak and the impact of file sharing - a controversial suggestion given file-sharing's part in establishing the band's incredibly large and dedicated fanbase.

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not became the fastest selling debut album in UK chart history, selling 363,735 physical copies in the first week This smashed the previous record of 306,631 copies held by Hear'say with their debut Popstars, and is likely to be even higher once online downloads of the album are added . The record's first day sales alone - 118,501 copies - made it the fastest selling debut rock album, and would have been enough to secure the Number One chart position.

In its first week of release in America, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, sold 34,000 units, making it the second fastest selling for a debut indie album in America. Receiving a lukewarm reception (perhaps a sign that the media is trying not to be influenced too much by the UK hype), the album debuted #24 on the Billboard album chart
. During a gig at the start of their US tour, Alex Turner was "openly hostile" to the audience" . The Oakland Tribune's review of that gig began with "THAT'S IT?" although it did admit "To be fair, the quartet did put on a likable show," and the Miami Herald said ""Its drummer sang laughably out-of-tune harmonies, its lead singer wasn't especially charismatic, the music felt catchy but unexceptional.", continuing the general opinion that although the band had promise, it wasn't felt that the hype was justified.

In a similar fashion to bands like Oasis and The Smiths, the band wasted no time in recording new material, and released a 5-track EP on 24 April 2006, entitled Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys. Seen as a swipe back at the snowballing hype surrounding the band, bad language is expected to result in little radio airplay. However, considering the band's rise to fame did not involve the radio, this should not be a great concern . London radio station Xfm played the world premiere of a track from the EP - "Cigarette Smoker Fiona" on 27 March 2006.


CRITICISM

The band have received some criticism, based largely around the media furor that has surrounded their rise. Critics have claimed that they are one in a long line of largely overhyped "NME bands." The release of the EP Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys a mere three months after their record-breaking debut album has also been criticised by many, who have seen it as "money-grabbing" .

The cover to the debut album featuring a man smoking a cigarette also received criticism by Dr Laurence Gruer of NHS Health Scotland, arguing that the cover "reinforces the idea that smoking is okay,". This claim was denied by the band's manager and tried to defend it by dubiously claiming it was obvious to anyone that smoking wasn't "doing him [the man on the cover] the world of good", although the man shows no obvious signs of distress (physical or otherwise).

In an article in The Guardian on April 24 2006, it was implied that Dan Treacy of Television Personalities is in some way behind the Arctic Monkeys, based on a perceived similarity between their lyrical style and that of Dan Treacy, and the fact that the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys is mysteriously not credited with their songwriting.

Their cocky attitudes and arrogance haven't helped endear themselves to those who aren't fans of the band's music - while collecting their award for Best British Band at the NME Awards 2006, Turner said "We did the triple, but in all honesty, I suppose we're supposed to display some gratitude... We are grateful because, you know, voted for by the people and all that, we're very happy about that but who else was going to be the best British band at the moment, you know?"

ALBUMS

2006 - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

EP'S

2005 - Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys
2006 - Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys

OTHER

2006 - Scummy Man (SOUNDTRACK)

Edit biography

OptimusPrime

Submitted by OptimusPrime at Fri 26 May, 2006 5:32 am

OptimusPrime

Last updated by OptimusPrime at Fri 26 May, 2006 5:32 am

Follow Muzikum