From the Start: The Arctic Monkeys Story
Tom Rowse | Tuesday, 01 September 2009
Where to Start with The Arctic Monkeys:
- 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor' – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
- 'When The Sun Goes Down' – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
- 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco' – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
- 'Brianstorm' – Favourite Worst Nightmare
- 'Fluorescent Adolescent' – Favourite Worst Nightmare
A Brief History
When Alex Turner and Jamie Cook got their first guitars back in 2001, little did they know that by 2009 they would be releasing one of the most anticipated albums of the year; their third album, with their band the Arctic Monkeys. It took two years from this starting point for the pair, joined by friends Andy Nicholson and Matt Helders, to play their first ever gig as The Arctic Monkeys on 13th June 2003 at The Grapes in Sheffield. From here, the band just kept growing.
By making demo discs and handing them out for free to fans at gigs, The Arctic Monkeys started getting their name out there. Through fans sharing songs across the internet, this would be the first of the 'MySpace Generation'. Fans created the Arctic Monkeys' MySpace profile, and fans distributed their songs. The band claim to have had no idea what MySpace even was, but by the time they realised the power of the internet they were getting some radio playtime from the BBC in Northern England - so much so that by May 2005 they had released their first disc, 'Five Minutes With The Arctic Monkeys'.
Skip forward to 17th October 2005, the release day of the band's first number one hit, 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor'. This blasted them into the mainstream, with critics falling over themselves to praise the band and regular front cover appearances in publications like NME. It seemed inevitable that second single 'When The Sun Goes Down' would result in a second number one single, as would debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, which would go on to become the fastest-selling debut of all time in the UK.
Towards the end of May 2006, it seemed the sudden fame and celebrity had taken its toll on Andy Nicholson, who left the band to be replaced by Nick O'Malley, from The Dodgems. A reinvigorated Arctic Monkeys pressed on with their new bassist, making a second appearance at the Leeds and Reading Festivals, entering the studio not long after to work on their sophomore album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, which upon its release on 23rd April 2007 shot straight to number one.
Singles such as 'Brianstorm' and 'Fluorescent Adolescent' stormed onto the radio, TV and charts. The band then spent the remainder of the year touring and promoting their new album, from which 12 tracks would appear in the top 200 single charts.
By January 2008 the band had finished six new songs and were demoing them at live shows. Over the course of 2008 and 2009 The Arctic Monkeys wrote 24 songs, of which 10 would make the cut for album number three, Humbug, set for release on 24th August in the UK following headline appearances at Leeds and Reading. First single, 'Crying Lightning', released digitally on 6th July, has already achieved critical and commercial success, and hints that The Arctic Monkeys' career will reach new highs as 2009 rolls on.
The Arctic Monkeys' Best Moments:
- The first gig: 13th June 2003 at The Grapes in Sheffield.
- Being picked up by the independent Domino Records in June 2005.
- First single beating off competition from Robbie Williams and The Sugababes to reach number one.
- First album not only reaching number one, but being the fastest selling debut from a band to do so.
- First tour of the USA in May 2006.
- Winning the 2006 Mercury Prize for 'Best Album'.
- Winning the 2007 BRIT award for 'Best British Album'.
- Second album reaching the number 1 spot in the album charts for two number one records in a row.
- Winning the 2008 BRIT awards for 'Best British Band' and 'Best British Album' .
- Being booked to headline the Leeds and Reading 2009 Festivals.
What do we have to look forward to from the Arctic Monkeys?
With third album Humbug set for a late August release and the headline slot at Leeds and Reading, it may seem that come September the Monkeys will have little left to offer us. While America has the band for the summer and much of the autumn, they are set to return to Europe in November for two shows at Zenith in Paris, after which a winter tour of the UK and Europe seems likely. Aside from the live shows, we have future singles and the characteristic live airing of even more new songs to look forward to in the coming year.