Arctic Monkeys' Fandemonium

Arctic Monkeys' Fandemonium
The first thing bands need is fans. Record companies, managers and hangers-on aren’t going to buy the music; it’s the fans that will take you places. Sheffield, England’s Arctic Monkeys knew this, of course.

After forming in 2003, the young foursome set out to distribute their music the only way they knew how: giving it away at gigs. Seeking nothing more than a little exposure, it ended up making them an internet mega-success. "We went into a little local studio and recorded a few songs, and really, what else would we do with them?” says guitarist Jamie Cook. "We burned 20 CDs and gave them out. People put them on websites and it just spread.”

The eagerness to share the word of the Monkeys is crystal clear on their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. With a modern spin on the downtrodden narratives and punk-inspired energy, the Monkeys know when to get pensive and when to get convulsive. But from the outset, fans have been purely convulsive, memorising singer Alex Turner’s lyrics almost as soon as they were written. "There were a lot of people showing up before we were signed, knowing the words and everything,” says a delighted Cook.

While the band have found a record label (Domino) and a rapturous reception from press world-wide, Cook insists, "It was 100 percent the fans’ doing and nothing to do with us. People knew about it before the press did. We were a backwards effect. The press were late getting onto us, saying, ‘Shit! What have we missed?’ It was refreshing to see because nowadays music’s just so force-fed down your throat, know what I mean? It was good to change that.”

And that whole "giving music away” strategy? Fans in the UK snapped up a record-breaking 363,735 copies of the debut album in its first week.