Musicfest NW: Arctic Monkeys

photos by Kyle Johnson
intro by Christy Thacker

I’ve finally figured out how to become an overnight musical mega-star: 1) Be born in England; 2) Decide you’re bored with your life sometime around the age of 18 and teach yourself to play an instrument you got for Christmas; 3) Don’t give a shit about your success, but play because you have nothing better to do and it’s fun; 4) Don’t advertise your songs or gigs, but allow your fans to share your music over the Internet and create your band Myspace without your knowledge; 5) When you receive several awards such as the 2006 Mercury Prize, 2007 BRIT Award for Best Album, and fastest-selling album in British History, don’t show up to claim your prize. Instead dress up as characters from the Wizard of Oz and The Village People in a video acceptance speech. 6) And finally, continue to play just for fun.

By fusing the sounds of bombastic indie rock and danacble pop-punk, the Arctic Monkeys have become one of the largest bands in the UK, and are now rising to top of the U.S. music charts. Forming in 2002, Alex Turner (lead vocals/guitar), Jamie Cook (guitar), Andy Nicholson (bass) and Matter Helders (drums) divided up instruments and started playing shows in 2003 when they weren’t doing their high school homework. The unsigned chaps began recording demos and burned them onto CDs to give away for free at their small gigs. When the CDs ran out, fans began ripping them onto computers to share with each other over the Internet. The quartet took notice of the virtually muscial swapping when they witnessed more and more of the audience singing along at shows.

After years of resistance, the boys finally signed with independent record label, Domino, before releasing their debut, history-breaking record, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006). Nicholson eventually called it quits after the release of their 2006 5-song EP, Who the Fuck Are the Arctic Monkeys, and was replaced by bassist Nick O’Malley right before their North American tour.

Since their hit single, “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor” the Monkeys have gone nowhere but up, releasing two more album, Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007) and the recently recorded Humbug (2009), produced by Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme in the Mojave Desert. The foursome is currently touring the good ‘ol U.S. before heading back to their neck of the woods in the UK.

For the in-studio at the Doug Fir today, though, Alex Turner played a short acoustic set of songs from the new album.

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