Matt Helders GirlfriendApr 21st, 2007
The Beatles were the most talked about British band of the 60s, The Sex Pistols of the 70s, The Smiths of the 80s, Oasis of the 90s and now it's The Arctic Monkeys of the 0s .
The Sun's Simon Cosyns, writing in the newspaper's "Something For The Weekend" magazine, talks to the Monkeys to tell us more about each track on their new album "Favourite Worst Nightmare", which is released on Monday....
Favourite Monkey music
The Fab Four... Arctic Monkeys
By SIMON COSYNS
April 20, 2007
ARCTIC MONKEYS - Favourite Worst Nightmare
Alex Turner - Vocals/Guitar
Jamie Cook - Guitar
Nick O'Malley - Bass
Matt Helders - Drums
IF you go to Arctic Monkeys’ MySpace page, you’ll see the slogan “Don’t believe the hype”.
We know the Sheffield lads shun interviews (mostly), stay away from award ceremonies (sometimes), put their fans first (definitely).
Trouble is they’ve become the most talked about British band since Oasis in the Nineties, The Smiths in the Eighties, The Sex Pistols in the Seventies and The Beatles in the Sixties.
And whether the band believes it or not, there’s no escaping the tidal wave of hype. Right now, bold black and yellow Arctic Monkeys posters adorn every street corner. Radio 1 even celebrated Arctic Monday.
The question is: should we believe the extravagant claims? Or should we go along with the band’s MySpace plea? The answer, frankly, is a bit of both.
Second album Favourite Worst Nightmare is NOT as jaw-dropping as debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, mainly because of our familiarity with the band.
In places, however, it is bolder, faster, louder. In others, it is gentler, slower, quieter. Arriving a mere 15 months after Whatever . . . , it surely sidesteps the second album wobbles of many a great band.
Recorded at Miloco Studios in Shoreditch, London with producers James Ford (of nu-ravers Simian Mobile Disco) and Mike Crossey, it is brimful of musical ideas.
Singer Alex Turner, still only 21, is emerging as our most vital lyricist since the great Morrissey, to whom he is often compared, and Jamie Cook’s guitar playing is full of power and invention.
But the biggest surprise is the staggering contribution of drummer Matt Helders and bassist Nick O’Malley, who give Favourite Worst Nightmare its thrilling and varied pulse.
To mark the album’s release on Monday, SFTW presents the definitive stories behind the album’s 12 songs.
“Cause we can’t take our eyes off your T-shirt and ties combination/See you later innovator”
On their journey from Sheffield’s northernmost suburb of High Green to the global Arctic Monkeys mosh-pit, the lads were bound to encounter some strange characters. One of the strangest inspired Favourite Worst Nightmare’s thunderous opening song.
They were in Japan, Monkey mania in full swing, when this oddball called Brian comes into their dressing room in Osaka.
Monkeys ... brilliant new album sidesteps follow up album wobbles
“When he left the room, we were a bit freaked out by his presence,” recalls Alex. “So we did a brainstorm for what he was like, drew a little picture and wrote things about him.”
Jamie adds: “He was right weird. He just appeared with, like, a business card and, like, a round-neck T-shirt and a tie loosely around it, I’d never seen that before. It felt like he was trying to get inside your mind. We were checking out his attire, freaked out.
“He definitely left a mark on us. He might have been a magician. He might even be here now. But if we ever find out who he was, it might spoil it.”
While Brianstorm relates a particular incident, it doesn’t set the template for what follows. Alex says: “I don’t think the album’s specifically about what happened last year, although bits of it are I suppose, some of the people we met, and incidents.”
“Let’s have a game on the teddy picker/Not quick enough can I have it quicker”
Wary of over-exposure, Arctic Monkeys clearly plan to be in it for the long haul. This track looks at the legions of over-eager reality TV wannabes who populate our screens then disappear after 15 minutes of fame.
Alex’s cutting lyrics liken their fate to the fairground machine that grabs and usually drops toys, the “teddy picker”.
There’s also a nod to Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer with the lines “I don’t want your prayer/Save it for the morning after”.
Don’t forget the Rio reference on Dancefloor, begging the question: “What is it about Duran Duran anyway?” The little Monkeys were just a twinkle in their parents’ eyes in Le Bon and Co’s heyday.
D IS FOR DANGEROUS
“I think you should know you’re his favourite worst nightmare”
Many of Favourite Worst Nightmare’s songs bristle with sexual tension, including this taut rocker about a “dirty little herbert” who can’t keep his trousers on.
And, of course, there’s the line that gives the album its title. Alex has said that Favourite Worst Nightmare “seemed to tick all the right boxes for what we were after in a title”. He likens the phrase to someone with a gambling addiction; they get something out of it but know it’s bad for them. “But in the song it’s more to do with a woman.”
The title didn’t come that easily, though. “We had a very long list of names. We were on Lesbian Wednesdays for a long time,” says Alex. “Named after a club night and we were spending that much time there.” Matt adds: “We were also thought of Gordon Brown, Gary Barlow, Roger Black, Colin Jackson, Sally Gunnell. We were big on athletes.”
“It’s more a question of feeling/Than it is a question of fun”
The innocent charm of the first album, with its Riot Van brawlers and the Mardy Bum girl, has been replaced by an altogether darker, more dangerous atmosphere . . . and this character in a balaclava.
It’s an angry song in which the protagonist knows his actions are “wrong wrong wrong” but will do it anyway to cause a bit of trouble.
“You used to get it in your fishnets/Now you only get it in your night dress”
Alex says: “I am dead proud of all the words on this album.” He should be, particularly the pin-sharp observations on Fluorescent Adolescent, the track that’s got everyone who’s heard it raving.
It tells the story of a woman’s fading sexuality, who asks her fella to be gentle but remembers the time “when all the boys were electric”.
The song has already become a huge live favourite despite starting out as “a piss-take we were just having a laugh with” and comes over as a lilting, lyrically rich successor to Mardy Bum.
Alex is pleased with its reception. “We played Fluorescent Adolescent and this girl got on someone’s shoulders. She sort of smelled a chorus coming.”
Album No2 ... Favourite Worst Nightmare cover
ONLY ONES WHO KNOW
“And I bet that Juliet was just the icing on the cake”
Remember when the band picked up the Mercury Prize for Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not? The first thing Alex said was “Someone call 999, Richard Hawley has been robbed.”
Hawley, of course, also hails from Sheffield and his sumptuous album Coles Corner looked at the city through rose-tinted specs.
Only Ones Who Know is a luminous slow “mirror ball” ballad that would not be out of place on Coles Corner and perhaps serves as Arctic Monkeys’ tribute to Richard.
Alex says it’s the story of two newcomers to the city’s university one Fresher’s Week. “There was this girl and this lad, who had obviously been lumped together, and they just asked us, it was like Sunday night, ‘Where’s good to go to tonight?’ I wrote that about them.”
Its simple message of young love finds the singer hoping they’re “holding hands by New Year’s Eve” and muses “they’ve made it far too easy to believe that true romance can’t be achieved these days”.
DO ME A FAVOUR
“Do me a favour and break my nose”
A direct break-up song with lyrics that leap straight into your consciousness. Matt Helders’ jungle drums that underpin this standout among the album’s later songs perfectly demonstrates the band’s rhythmic progression.
“We got more into sounds over the year, and wanted to make it interesting, paid a lot of attention to drums, trying to do interesting rhythms and not just straightforward structures,” explains Alex.
As Do Me A Favour draws to a close, hold on to your hats as the lads head into a thrilling, tu
rbocharged rush for the line.
THIS HOUSE IS A CIRCUS
“This house is a circus/ Berserk as f**k”
As the music gets into a funky groove, Alex delivers his blinding opening line (above), which ranks among the best of a pretty good bunch over the two albums.
With lines like “all the attention is leading me to feel important” and “struggling with the notion that it’s life not film”, you sense these are Alex’s thoughts on being in the glare of publicity.
And it sure must feel like a circus most of the time.
IF YOU WERE THERE, BEWARE
“There’s a circle of witches/ Ambitiously vicious they are”
This nightmarish soundscape continues a flirtation with prog-rock glimpsed on the first album’s Vampires. Alex has described the song as a slight go at the Press for a “bit of hassle” his ex-girlfriend suffered but says the song’s concerns don’t dominate his thinking. “They got replaced with more important things that I want to sing about.”
THE BAD THING
“Do the bad thing/Take off your wedding ring/But it won’t make it that much easier”
Even if you’d had a few glasses of red wine, it’s not the best behaviour of a single man to fall into the arms of a married woman. And Alex is right when he suggests it won’t make a lot of difference if she takes her wedding ring off!
OLD YELLOW BRICKS
“I know I said he wants to sleep in the city that never wakes up/But Dorothy was right though . . .”
It you were bemused by the band dressing up as Wizard Of Oz characters for their filmed acceptance speech at The Brits, here’s the likely explanation.
“We were recording a video,” said Cookie at the time of their much-publicised no-show. So expect Old Yellow Bricks to be a future Arctic Monkeys single.
“I’d probably still adore you if your hands were round my neck”
The snakey guitar lines that help make this such a memorable, slow-burning finale come courtesy of Miles Kane from The Little Flames, whose Put Your Dukes Up was covered by the Monkeys.
Sounds like Alex is pining for hotel room 505 and the girl within, “a seven-hour flight” away or a “45-minute drive in my imagination”. It was composed on a late-night train journey from Philadelphia to New York and shows both the Monkeys’ quiet and loud sides in one song to devastating effect.
We’ve heard the Wizard Of Oz reference on Old Yellow Bricks but the band’s love of classic movies is also apparent here. The organ at the beginning of 505 comes from Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly soundtrack (where Angel Eyes enters before the final standoff).
Alex says: “The heavier stuff went a bit heavier and the softer bits are even more stripped down than the first album. The extremes are more extreme. I suppose you could say it’s wider. Even though, it’s just half an hour or whatever, there’s a lot in that half an hour.”
Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 21st, 2007 at 06:18 AM..