From big U.K. shows to small U.S. clubs, English quartet gets best of both
The Arctic Monkeys, a rock quartet from Sheffield, England, recently achieved its fifth consecutive No. 1 album in the United Kingdom.
“Yeah, it’s always great to get a No. 1, especially where you’re from,” Arctic Monkeys guitarist Jamie Cook said last week from Oakland, Calif., where he and his bandmates played a two-night stand at the Fox Theater.
“We didn’t even expect to make five albums, never mind five No. 1 albums,” Cook said.
The Arctic Monkeys got another thrill when it headlined the U.K.’s massive Glastonbury Festival.
“It’s an honor to be asked to play it,” Cook said. “It was a really good show as well. Couldn’t have been any better for us that night.”
The band also is a finalist for the Mercury Prize, a prestigious honor awarded to one British album each year.
“There are so many awards now, but that one is still all about the music,” Cook said. “Some amazing bands have won that in the past.”
Meanwhile, Cook, singer-songwriter Alex Turner, drummer Matt Helders and bassist Andy Nicholson are selling out venues in the U.S., including The Varsity Theatre in Baton Rouge.
But The Arctic Monkeys, despite having toured the U.S. since the 2006 release of their album debut, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” have always been more popular in the U.K. and Europe than in the U.S.
That doesn’t worry Cook.
“We really enjoying touring here,” he said. “We’re quite lucky. We get to do all these big shows in the U.K. and then we get to come here and play small club and theater shows. That’s great for us. We get the best of both worlds.”
The Arctic Monkeys recorded its new album, “AM,” at Rancho de La Luna, a studio in the Mojave Desert community of Joshua Tree, Calif. Fellow Brits James Ford and Ross Orton (also from Sheffield) co-produced the acclaimed album.
The group previously recorded its 2009 album, “Humbug,” at Rancho de La Luna, with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme as producer.
“The first time we went out there was with Josh,” Cook said. “When someone builds something up, like, ‘Oh, you’ve got to come out here! It’s like something you’ve never seen!’, in the back of your head you’re thinking, ‘All right, yeah. I’m sure.’ But then you actually get there and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.’ Yeah, in Joshua Tree you really feel like you’re far away from everything.”
The dearth of good recording studios in the U.K. compelled The Arctic Monkeys to make “AM” in California.
“We’ve been in L.A. for nearly a year now, since we started the record,” Cook said. “We enjoy it there. I don’t know if we’ll stay there permanently, but for the time being, I suppose that’s home.”
But Cook misses his native England.
“You miss your family and friends more than anything,” he said. “And you miss things like the pubs, the beer, the football. Don’t miss the weather, really.”
Nevertheless, Sheffield lad Cook has gotten weary of something for which southern California is famous.
“For the first time in me life I actually said, ‘I’m quite fed up with sunshine.’ I didn’t think those words would ever come out my mouth. It actually happened.”