The name? “It’s right shit,” confesses bassist, Andy, in a heartbeat. “The thing is you can’t think, ‘that’s a right good name, they must be a good band.’ It’s like, ‘that’s a shit name,’ and then people come and see us and are like ‘fucking hell.’ It’s better to have a band better than the name than a name better than the band.” And never has a truer word been spoken.
This month, we’ve needed to travel no further than a few steps to track down our cover stars as Arctic Monkeys made a dash for the seaside to play our hometown indie hole, Chinnery’s, on their current sell out tour. By their stage time, some two hours away, the name Arctic Monkeys is completely dismissed as irrelevant to a bands music that has rightly turned the music world on its head.
“Our guitarist Jamie thought the name up when we were at school,” reveals drummer, Matt. “When we said we wanted to form a band he said, ‘we’ll have to call it Arctic Monkeys,’ so we did. And then when we first got involved with the industry side of things they said, ‘Are you sure about the name?’ so we thought we’re definitely keeping that now.”
So there you have it. Beneath the hype, the already adoring fans and the dubiously well-crafted pop songs, Artic Monkeys are a teenage gang of four, in it for the craic, sticking two fingers up to an industry that is ready to worship them. Some perceive it as arrogance whilst others see it for exactly what it is‚” exciting times indeed.
How are you enjoying Southend-On-Sea?
Andy: “It’s great. It’s like doing a gig on holiday.”
Matt: “I’ve wasted more money today on them [arcade] machines than ever. We’ve had fish and chips. You know, ‘when in Rome‚”‘”
Is your huge fan base something what grew over time or was it instant?
Matt: “It was kind of instant but not straight away if you know what I mean? We definitely noticed it with this one gig in Sheffield. We noticed there were a lot of people there singing along, people we’d never seen before.”
What’s it been like having such hardcore fans before you even signed a proper deal?
Matt: “It’s been right strange. Every time we have something new like someone crowd surfing it’s like, ‘we’re a proper band now.'”
Andy: “I remember when we played ‘Mardy Bum’ at this gig and a girl got on her boyfriends shoulders. It was like an Oasis gig. You can’t beat that‚” girlfriends on shoulders.”
Have you ever had a bad response from a crowd?
Matt: “Not really. Not from an audience point of view.”
Andy: “We know when we’ve had a bad gig but it still seems to go down well. We had not the best gig for us not too long ago but everyone seemed to love it.”
Matt: “It’s because we’ve set a high standard for ourselves.”
Now that everyone wants to be an Arctic Monkeys fan, are the audiences watered down at all?
Matt: “Not really. We get all kinds of people now. Like older people as well‚” mums and dads. The crowds used to be our age and younger. In Exeter it was a young crowd.”
Andy: “But there was also a guy right at the front, late 30’s/40, proper bald head, singing every word, loving it.”
Matt: “In the older days when we didn’t have a crew or anything there’d be a lot of people getting onstage and that. People would laugh at us if we asked for a barrier. They’d be “oh you don’t need one of them here. It doesn’t get that rough.”
Fake Tales is about a not liking the current band scene. Are you worried about becoming part of the scene you hate?
Andy: “The reason people put you in a scene or pigeon hole is because they can’t really think of it as anything else. But a band like The Coral, you cant possibly put them in a scene and I think we’re along the same lines as that. It’s not a particular genre. It’s just our music. I’m not worried about it.”
Matt: “And obviously it comes out in our songs that we don’t want to be.”
We’ve got 17 tracks of yours on our stereo and they sound more than good enough for an LP. Any thoughts on releasing them officially?
Matt: “Not really. There’s been conversations but we don’t really wanna do that because you’ve already got them and so have a lot of people.”
Andy: “I’d feel a bit shitty doing that. You cant do that because if you’ve already got them, why do you need to pay for them to get a bit of art work?”
Matt: “We can play them better as well.”
Andy: “Them demos sound as good as they do because when we recorded them, they were brand new songs that we were all exited about playing, not that we’re not anymore but you know how it is.”
When you do get in the studio is there anyone in particular you’d like to work with?
Matt: “We’ve got a guy in mind for this one. He’s not a big time trendy producer.”
Andy: “He’s not in the NME Cool List.”
Matt: “He’s just someone we want to try out. But when we’ve worked with producers they haven’t really done anything. We already go in with the songs. Hardly anything changes. It’s not like we’ve written songs with producers.”
Andy: “It’s never cut and pasted and messed around with.”
What’s the best track you’ve written?
Matt: “It’s usually new ones and seeing if you can pull it off live. You can’t wait to get to it on the set list.”
Andy: [to Matt] “What’s your top one? You can have three.”
Matt: “I don’t need three. ‘You Probably Couldn’t See Through The Lies.’ That’s a new one.”
Andy: “I’d say that, ‘Vampires’, ‘Ritz To The Rubble’, I like playing that.”
Matt: “I look forward to the end of ‘Vampires’. I’m knackered after that.”
Sheffield seems to be having a real uprising in like minded bands. Are you guys all friends?
Matt: “Yeah we went to college with some of them.”
Andy: “Like Milburn. They’re a good band coming out of Sheffield at the moment. And a band called Bromhead Jackets. They’re right good as well. We all know them and we all go drinking with them. Before we were in bands we were friends. We didn’t think, ‘they’re a good band, we’ll be friends with them and someone will write about it.'”
Did you come together over music and are there any major influences?
Matt: “It was just because we were mates already. I don’t think any of us knew what the others liked.”
Andy: “The one band that we all liked before we were a band was probably Oasis.”
Matt: “If we all have walkmans on, we’ll all be listening to something really different. If you could hear what were all listening to it would be really surprising. It just wouldn’t make sense.”
You’re being compared lyrically to the Streets and musically to The Libertines. Is that a comparison you’re happy with?
Matt: “The Street bits alright but The Libertines thing is wrong. I like The Libertines, don’t get me wrong‚””
Andy: “It’s just the closest thing that people can think of so they just call it that. It’s an easy way to answer that question, that’s all.”
Matt: “When you really listen to us, they’re more rock, more punky. We’ve got more of a groove.”
Andy: “They were never going to do a funky dancey song.”
Matt: “And they’d never walk on to Dr Dre.”
Andy: “I agree that we are a bit to do with The Libertines but only because of the fans.”
Anyone we should be listening to who we’re not?
Andy: “The Little Flames from Liverpool.”
Matt: “Milburn who we’ve said. They’re coming on tour with us.”
Andy: “This guy called The Reverend. The only way I’d describe it is musically like Basement Jaxx and the lyrics are really good. They’re like our lyrics but told in a different way”.
Do you feel the pressure that the press are putting on you or are you comfortable in the fact that you can choose your direction without having released before?
Andy: “We’re not going to release or let anybody listen to what we’re not happy with. Pressure is only there if you’re doubting yourself. If you’re not sure about something, everybody’s going to think that.”
Matt: “It’s all worked out so far so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I say that all the time.”