Arctic Monkeys

  • UK based indie rock band formed in 2002 from Sheffield England. The band members are Alex Turner (frontman, lead vocals, guitars, songwriting), Matt Helders (drums, vocals), Jamie Cook (guitars) and Nick O’Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals). Andy Nicholson was a founding member, who left in 2006 due to fatigue and difficulty dealing with the band’s fame – O’Malley replaced Nicholson.
  • The original members were neighborhood and school friends. They listened to rap music and then became interested in guitar bands. They were beginners as musicians, but decided to form a band after watching other friends perform at local venues. Jaime Cook came up with the name of the band – he has never told anyone where it came from. They rehearsed for a year, and played their first gig in June 2003. They put 18 songs on a CD that they would give away at performances – the songs were shared by their fans on the internet. The collection of demos is called Beneath the Boardwalk because the first file-sharer got his CD at a venue called The Boardwalk.
  • The internet exposure and more performances increased their popularity in England. In 2005, they released their first single, Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys, on their own label, limited to 500 CDs and 1,000 7 inch records, but also available on iTunes. That summer, they were signed by an independent label. Their first single with the label, I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor and their second, When the Sun Goes Down were released in October 2005 and January 2006 respectively, and both immediately went to #1 on the UK charts with little marketing by the label. This was an early example of how the record industry was changing – using the internet and liberal availability of “free” music to ultimately drive success.
  • Their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, was released in January 2006. It became the fastest selling debut album in British music history, selling over 360,000 copies in the first week – a huge number for the UK, where the threshold for platinum designation is 300,000. It peaked at #24 in the U.S. Later in 2006, they released a non-album single, Leave Before the Lights Come On, which hit #4 in the UK, and was their first song to chart in Canada, debuting at #2.
  • Their next studio album was 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare. It was described as “very very fast and very very loud.” It quickly hit #1 in the UK, and at one point, all 12 songs were on the British Top 200 singles chart.
  • In 2009, they released the album Humbug. Alex Turner commented that when he wrote the songs, he had been listening to Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Nick Cave. It topped the UK album chart, as did their next album, 2011’s Suck It and See. Singles from these albums were less popular in Europe as previous albums, though 7 songs did chart in the UK and other markets.
  • Finally, after 9 years of releasing music, they scored a success in the U.S. with their most recent album from 2013, AM. Of course, it topped the UK chart (the first independent label band to have 5 consecutive #1 albums), and it made it to #6 in the U.S., and most notably, it was certified platinum. The single Do I Wanna Know? was their first to hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it to #70. While charting relatively low, sales were significant – the single also has sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. The record merges hip-hop drum beats with 70s heavy rock.
  • Given their popularity in the UK, it’s no surprise that they’ve won 6 Brit Awards (the British Phonographic Industry’s annual pop music awards). They’ve also been nominated for 3 Grammy awards in Rock and Alternative categories – but have yet to win.
  • Stay tuned – their new album is due out in 2018. As is the case for all indie-style bands, they don’t chart well in the U.S. against today’s pop music, but their music is fresh, with intricate lyrics. If you’re looking for a break from today’s generally terrible pop music, give Arctic Monkeys a try.  Watch their cool video of Do I Wanna Know? – great song, great psychedelic animation in the video!

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