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Arctic Monkeys are a four-piece indie rock band from High Green, a suburb of Sheffield, England. Their debut single, "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor", and the follow up "When The Sun Goes Down", went straight to number one in the UK Singles Chart. The band's debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, holds the record for the largest first week sales of a debut album in the UK. The band's northern roots, often seen as a key element of the band's style, have seen them billed as a "northern Libertines", while their unique sound and wry lyrics—often social commentaries—have been compared to the The Jam, Pulp and The Streets.
Established in 2002, the band consists of:
Alex (born 1986) is the band's lead vocalist and plays the guitar. He first met drummer Matt Helders at Barnsley College. He has maintained a very private life, and shunned media publicity when declared the Coolest Man On The Planet by NME magazine in December 2005.
Jamie "Cookie" Cook
Jamie is the band's lead guitartist and also provides backing vocals.
Again a backing vocalist, Andy plays bass guitar for the band.
Matthew "The Cat" Helders
The drummer who attended Barnsley College alognside Turner, he was also born in 1986. He is the most comprehensive backing vocalist, appearing in the tracks "You Probably Couldn't See For The Lights But You Were Looking Straight at Me" and "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor". Like the other three members, Helders has largely avoided the spotlight.
After Turner and Helders met at Barnsley College in 2002, the pair asked for instruments as a Christmas present. They formed a band with Cook as guitarist. Although it has been reported that they named themselves after Helders' uncle's band, they later admitted that this wasn't true - telling the Bolton Evening News (no, really) that they had made the story up because they were bored in an interview, and were amazed that it had been accepted as fact. They began rehearsing in a warehouse in Neepsend . Their first gig came on 13 June 2003 at The Grapes in Sheffield city-centre.
They first started to gain the attention of the mainstream public when their demos were made available to download on the internet in late 2004. Around this time they began to receive a great deal of attention from BBC Radio 1 and the British tabloid press for their catchy songs and witty lyrics.
Their appearance on the Carling Stage at the 2005 Reading and Leeds Festivals was hyped by much of the music press – NME in particular – and the band was received by an unusually large crowd for the billing they played. The critically acclaimed performance even included spontaneous sing-alongs from the band's most devoted fans. Impressively, this included tracks that were only available as demos on the Internet. It was at this time that vocalist Alex Turner took the opportunity to rebuff claims that his band could not live up to the hype that has followed their emergence, and declared, "It feels like a moment, us playing here."
In May 2005, Arctic Monkeys released their first EP, Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys, featuring the songs "Fake Tales of San Francisco" and "From the Ritz to the Rubble". This release was limited to 1000 CDs and 500 7" records, but was also available to download from the iTunes Music Store.
Their popularity rapidly grew after several shows. James "The Sheriff" Sheriff (now webmaster of the band's official website), put the contents of Beneath the Boardwalk – a renamed upload of one of the band's demo CDs - freely available to download from his webpage. These tracks quickly became available on several peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.
All the while, the band were resisting the temptations of signing to a record deal, to the extent that record company scouts were barred from their gigs. Their logic - "We've got this far without them - why should we let them in", was illustrated with a series of sell-out gigs across the UK. October 2005 saw the band sell out the London Astoria, with 2000 fans singing the words to every song despite the band having released a single limited edition EP. Declaring their rampant rise to stardom via the Internet "amazing", Turner added "I'm sure one day it will come back and bite us in the arse". The band's novel method of reaching the number 1 spot has led some to suggest that it could signal a change in how new bands achieve recognition. 
The grass-roots, chat-room frenzy surrounding the band eventually lured record company scouts. Although originally intending to go it alone, the band ended up signing to Domino Records in June 2005. The temptation of money saw the band almost sign for "another label", but the band were attracted by Domino owner Laurence Bell, who ran the label from his flat and only signed bands that he liked personally . "The UK's Daily Star tabloid newspaper reported that this was followed in October 2005 by a £1m publishing deal with EMI and a £725,000 contract with Epic for the United States . This was strenously denied, however, on the band's official website, which dubbed the paper "The Daily Stir".
They have received some criticisms, based largely around the media furore that has surrounded their rise . Critics have claimed that they are one in a long line of largely overhyped "NME bands."
Their first single after signing to Domino, "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor", was released on 17 October 2005 and went straight to #1 on the UK Singles Chart, selling 38,962 copies and beating McFly and Robbie Williams in the process. Three days later, the band made their first appearance on the cover of NME. Their second single, "When The Sun Goes Down" (having been renamed from its original guise as "Scummy"), was released on 16 January 2006 and also went straight to #1 on the UK Singles Chart, selling 38,922 copies and dethroning Shayne Ward.
The band finished recording their debut album at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire during September 2005. Its name was confirmed as Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not in early December, with release originally intended for 30 January 2006. Although widely expected to be one of the biggest releases of 2006 with thousands of copies pre-ordered, early versions of many tracks were already freely available to download from the band's pre-label demo CDs. On 5 January 2006, Domino announced the album's release would be brought forward one week to the 23 January "due to high demand". While the same thing was done with the release of Franz Ferdinand, there has been continued speculation that the move came as a result of the album's leak and the impact of file sharing - a controversial suggestion given file-sharing's part in establishing the band's incredibly large and dedicated fanbase.
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not became the fastest selling debut album in chart history, selling 363,735 physical copies in the first week. This smashed the previous record of 306,631 copies held by Hear'say with their debut Popstars, and is likely to be even higher once online downloads of the album are added . The record's first day sales alone - 118,501 copies - made it the fastest selling debut rock album, and would have been enough to secure the Number One chart position.
Awards and Achievements
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not:
- fastest selling debut album in UK chart history.
- Voted 5th greatest British album of all time by NME magazine (January 2006) .
October 2005 saw the group's only appearances on television, performing on Popworld (15 October), E4 Music and Later with Jools Holland (28 October 2005). Since these appearances, however, the band have gained a degree of notoriety by refusing to play on any further TV shows . The band have repeatedly turned down offers to play on the BBC's long running chart show, Top of the Pops, as well as ITV's CD:UK. The band's refusal to attend the 2006 Brit Awards was originally seen as another snub to television, although a statement explained that it was in fact due to their prior commitments on the NME Awards tour.
On 12 November 2005, the Monkeys' Liverpool gig was featured on MTV2's Gonzo on Tour. The footage was broadcast two weeks prior to the rest of the Gonzo On Tour, co-inciding with the week "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" went to UK Number One.
- "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" - released 17 October 2005 #1 UK;
- "When The Sun Goes Down" - released 16 January 2006 #1 UK
Debut World Tour
The Monkeys' debut world tour began in Liverpool on 2 October 2005. Beginning with performances across Britain, the tour included gigs in The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Canada and the USA. Although originally scheduled to finish in Tokyo, Japan, on 23 November, further dates were subsequently added in Spain, Sweden and Denmark for December 2005.
The UK leg of the tour saw every show selling out and some venues having to be upgraded to handle the demand. Tickets with a face value of £7 were being resold on eBay for over £100 a pair. The band's home gig in Sheffield had a second night added due to floor space being required for film crews.
NME Awards Tour
January and February 2006 will see the band playing alongside Maxïmo Park, We Are Scientists and Mystery Jets on the NME Awards tour. The tour consists of a series of gigs in the UK and Ireland, including Glasgow, London, Manchester, Dublin, Edinburgh, Cardiff and the band's home town Sheffield.
North American Tour 2006
In March 2006 the band will go on their first long North American tour, playing headlining gigs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, amongst others. In addition to these, the band will be the opening act for Oasis show at the 15,000-capacity Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
April 2006 UK Tour
On 30 January 2006, James Sheriff announced details of the Monkeys' UK tour in April 2006. The tour, beginning on 13 April in Nottingham (Rock City), consists of 12 gigs around the UK and culminates on 27 April at Brixton Academy in London. Advanced tickets to all 12 shows were made available on the Monkeys' web-site at 6pm that night, and sold out witin 1 hour.
Tickets were put on general release at 6pm on 2 February, available online, by phone or box office. All 13 gigs were sold out within 10 minutes, with queuing at some venues beginning in the early hours of the morning.