Organically grown and most certainly home produced; to many, Arctic Monkeys have picked up the baton from great UK indie acts of the past, such as The Smiths and Oasis.
The year is 2007, and Arctic Monkey Mania is in full swing. The band from the High Green suburb of Sheffield had already ticked off several key objectives for any self-respecting British indie band. Number one single? Tick. Number one album? Tick. Cover of NME Magazine? Tick. NME Awards? Tick. Appearance at the Reading Festival? Tick.
It had all happened in a whirlwind, and against the grain of the UK music industry at the time. While the Shayne Wards and Sugababes of the world continued to dominate the charts with their big label backing, Arctic Monkeys managed to do so by embracing the grass roots. Their army of fans have to be recognised for the major role they played in the mid-noughties, spreading word of the band, with their communication channel of choice being the internet – after all, this is 2007; a time when a web connection is fast becoming as common a household utility as running water.
‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ took the country by storm, becoming the fastest selling album of all time at the expense of Hear’Say, and shifting over 360,000 copies in its first week. That was in 2006, a year when The Monkeys even made progress across the pond in the United States, a traditionally hard nut for British indie acts to crack. The album entered the Billboard album chart at a respectable 24.
Despite the accolades and plaudits coming from all angles, including the coveted Mercury Music Prize, the band have recognised that the alternative or independent music scenes don’t hand out many points for sucking up to the establishment. The Monkeys made a controversial splash with their follow-up EP to the hit album, the daringly titled ‘Who the F*** Are Arctic Monkeys?’. Its length meant it was shunned as a viable airplay option by many radio stations, but the band had – consciously or not – made a point. They weren’t here to pander to the wishes of the major labels, no matter how brightly their star was shining.
Fast forward to 2017, and after a two-year break, the band are working on their sixth studio album. Arctic Monkeys are now certifiable British rock royalty, and unlike their earlier years, don’t appear to feel they must release music at a lightning-quick rate. The band have well and truly conquered the States, as shown by ticket sales on their AM Tour, and headlined the event which was a big catalyst in their early success – the Reading Festival, as well as Glastonbury.
As is the case with many evolving music acts, they have not been afraid to incorporate new influences into their music, including hip-hop style beats and stoner rock. They have collaborated with fellow rock royalty such as Iggy Pop, and commendably used their position as famous music stars for the greater good, supporting causes including Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Oxfam.