The Bankable Arctic Monkeys

The Bankable<b> Arctic Monkeys</b>
Any guesses as to how in demand Arctic Monkeys are? Well, first off they have become a daily target for the infamously diabolical UK tabloid press. Over the past weeks, members of the Sheffield-based sensations have allegedly called the BBC’s Radio One play lists "crap” and publicly slagged hot producer Mark Ronson’s latest single — a move that prompted Robbie Williams, a Ronson collaborator, to offer to "smack them.”

According to drummer Matt Helders, what is being printed is far from the truth. "We never said anything about Mark Ronson; I never even said his name before. The Radio One thing, that was blown out of proportion — it was a mistake really,” he says with little bother. "It’s all tabloids, it’s never true. We’re on this tour right now and there’s something on us in the paper every day that’s bullshit. It’s annoying, but we kind of have a laugh at it. It’s not that serious yet; they’re not digging into our personal lives.”

The hubbub is largely to do with the fact that these barely 20-year-olds have a brand new album out. In little more than a year after the mark of their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, the fervent four-piece have roared back with the heavier, more sonically ambitious Favourite Worst Nightmare. Talk about difficult second albums all you want — few indie acts have to follow up a record that set record sales (fastest selling album ever in the UK) and won awards from the Brits, NME, PLUG and the highly coveted Mercury Prize. They’ve managed to produce something that not only builds on their signature sound, but also shows that these lads can handle everything that’s thrown at them. Helders says the immense pressure everyone assumes wasn’t, in fact, too much for them. "We just got more used to this lifestyle.”

This new lifestyle has allowed them to work more with their sound. Another sign of their in-demand status came from a request to work with UK grime star Dizzee Rascal. Supporters of the "grindie” movement sparked by London producer Statik, the Monkeys were excited about the possibilities. "A year ago, he’d suggested working with us, and we had this song with a beat like we could have a rapper on it. We were all fans of his music and thought he’d be perfect on it, so we approached him again and he was more than happy to do it.”

The band were wise to keep "Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend” off Nightmare though. Unlike some eager young artists, they understood that the collaboration could work against them. "There were about 19 or 20 songs from the session and it was difficult to narrow it down to 12 at the end,” Helders says. "The Dizzee Rascal song, we obviously think it’s amazing, but it might have been seen as a bit of a gimmick — someone like that guesting on the second album. So we kept it as a b-side.”

Perhaps the biggest indicator of the Monkeys’ impact was their invitation to compose a song and make a cameo in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, the Oscar-nominated film set in an infertile future world. "They wanted a song for it first of all. Then they wanted to make it so we were playing the song in the film, but 20 years older,” explains Helders. "So they would age us by 20 years and then we’d be playing the song on a video billboard. The song was supposed to sound like what we imagined something to sound like in 20 years too. We really liked the idea, but it was another time thing. We didn’t really have a day where we could do anything like that last year. Looking back I really wished we would have done it — I love that film.”