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May 11, 2014 | by  | in Features Homepage |
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Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not

Since bursting onto the music scene with ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ back in 2006, the Arctic Monkeys have become one of the definitive bands of our generation. Their first album was the fastest-selling debut album in British music history, quicker even than the Beatles’. Their latest effort, AM, debuted at number one in Britain (just like their previous four), and has sold millions around the world. Last week, they rocked the TSB Arena as part of a world tour for the album. They were consummate rockers: slick, loud, tight, dripping confidence, oozing sex.

Salient Editor Cam sat down for a chat with Nick O’Malley, the bass-playing Monkey. Aside from the part where Cam made Nick fear for his life, the interview went pretty well.

“Cause there’s this tune I’ve found that makes me think of you somehow”

What are you listening to at the moment? What is your favourite song to just put on and jam out to?
Ummh, well just before this phone call I actually was just listening to a band called The Amazing Snakeheads. ‘Here It Comes Again’.

A Scottish trio who also record with Domino Records. They sound like a bit more of a metally version of the early Arctic Monkeys.

What about your favourite band of all time?
Oh, ugh, that’s a tough one. Yeah, I’d probably have to be really obvious and go with the Beatles, y’know.

What is your favourite Arctic Monkeys song that you listen to and you think: “This is amazing. This is the best song we’ve written. We’ve done it”?
Um, I don’t know, um… This is a difficult one because I have listened to them so many times: my favourite one is probably ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ off the new record.

They played this song at the gig.

Do you have a pre-show ritual? What do you do during the day before a big show?
Umm yeah, nothing too weird really. We just normally, you know, stand in the dressing room backstage, kind of just getting ready, listening to music and try to get, you know, into that let’s-go-and-entertain-some-people mode. So just slowly bringing yourself up to speed, having a drink, listening to music and trying to get yourselves up and ready.

You transitioned into the band after the first album. How did you manage the transition into the band?
Oh, well I don’t know. I suppose we’ve all known each other for quite a long time since before the band, so there was never really any kind of introductory phase. It was just straight in and it just felt like, I don’t know, very natural to be playing with the guys rather than, you know, if I had to join the band with people I didn’t know. We’ve known each other since we were little kids.

Have you got any tips for musicians? If you’re good, how do you take that next step into greatness? When did you make that step?
Oh, I don’t know, again difficult to say. But I think, I suppose, a good musician always knows that they can do better. I suppose, y’know, nobody is actually, should actually, be thinking that they are good, I guess, because there is always more to explore, more music to listen to, and you can always get better. But I suppose you have got to enjoy what you are doing and if you’re not enjoying it don’t do it.

“Sunglasses indoors, par for the course”

What was it like the first time you were on the cover of Rolling Stone?
Yeah, I mean, it’s surreal. It’s great, obviously, it’s a great thing that you always dream about when you are a kid and first start a band and, y’know, things like playing at Glastonbury and stuff like that; yeah, it’s a great feeling. I suppose when it actually happens it feels like it’s not real or something, but then you kind of just like, you know, when you see a picture of yourself in a supermarket on a magazine you are more just like embarrassed by it. Kind of try and not look at it too much, but yeah, obviously it is a great thing.

When did you know you’d made it? When did people start noticing you on the streets?
Oh, yeah it’s not really that intense in that respect. I think Al [frontman and all-time legend, role model and rock’n’roll god Alex Turner, but Nick just calls him Al, as you do] gets it a lot more than the other three of us but to be honest, I don’t know, we don’t really get any kind of mob in the street: we’re not really that kind of One Direction band. But yeah, occasionally we’ll get a few kids coming up to us just saying something like I like your stuff or whatever, or not occasionally. For me, I started seeing, before I even joined the band, people started talking about us when everyone was singing along at the gigs and stuff and they knew all the lyrics and it started seeming like something special was happening with the Arctic Monkeys.

So what’s the lifestyle like? What’s it like being on the road? Is it quite gruelling?
Umm, you know, actually it’s just great. It’s a great laugh. It’s a lot of fun. But yeah, at the same time it’s gruelling, you know, after sometimes when you get on a bus for 15 hours, and then plane somewhere after showering in some little dank place and then back on the bus again and drive another 15 hours. But then sometimes you are just flying in and staying in nice hotels so it kind of has its ups and downs. But, you know, for the majority of it, it’s an amazing experience getting to travel around with friends, have people cheer for you. I’m not trying to say that it’s not a good job. It’s something we love doing.

Is the lifestyle like what we get from the movies? Is it all sex, drugs and rock’n’roll?
Well, I think the answer we have it all sitting in vans, sitting backstage counting the hours down, stranded somewhere and shit like that, but, you know, when you think about things you edit out all the boring parts and so I will just make it sound interesting and so yeah, it’s exactly as you expect it.

Do you have a drug of choice?
Oh nah nah, I was just kidding with all of that shit: I am just a drinker.

What’s your favourite drink?
Everything really, all of it. I have not found anything I don’t really like.

We are wondering what we should drink tonight for the concert. Do you think there is a one type of liquor that sums up the Arctic Monkeys?
We have quite a tradition of having a shot of tequila. That’s usually our get-up-and-go shot before we go on. It’s the one that warms everything up.

Hey so what is the best venue you have ever played?
I’d have to say headlining Glastonbury, y’know last year, that was like just the best thing I’ve ever done gig-wise: just a massive gig and it all went really well and the best festival ever really in terms of its legendary status as a festival. So to headline that on a Friday night packed out and it for all to go really well: yeah, that was definitely my favourite moment being in a band ever.

What does the future look like for the Arctic Monkeys? Are you guys working on a new album? What’s the plan?
Yeah, we don’t really know yet; we’re just kind of finishing off visiting all the different parts of the world we haven’t been to yet for this record. And then after that, maybe a little break or just, you know ,kind of stay in one place for a little while and then maybe get on with something new. But as of now, we haven’t really got any plans of what we have got to do. But you know we will always be back. We will never be off for too long.

“Secrets I have held in my heart are harder to hide than I thought”

If you had to be one animal, what would it be?
One animal? So I can’t be a collection? Umm, singular.

You can be a herd if you like…
Umm, probably a dog. Because, you know, they get to live in houses and I like living in a house.

Do you have any pets? Like what is your favourite dog?
No, no I can’t have pets in this game, never in one place. But yeah, I have always liked the idea of having a dog.

If you got to have two people over for dinner from any time in history, who would they be?
Well, probably a chef, because I can’t cook. Yeah, maybe I could get like Jamie Oliver over, just so he could do all the cooking, and then ugh, who would the other person be? Think. These questions really get me. I don’t know.

What’s your favourite song you have ever covered?
Umm, well for a friend’s wedding we all covered R Kelly ‘I Believe I Can Fly’, but that’s not for an actual gig, but that was a lot of fun. A few years ago now, but enjoyable. I like doing covers that, you know, are from another genre that you are not associated with.

What’s your favourite hangover food?
Umm, bacon sandwich is always good. That always helps. You know, it’s got everything you need.

What are you doing after the concert and can we come?
What should we do? I mean, I don’t even know; we just got here. I was gonna ask you that question. What should we do on a Saturday night in Wellington?

We’ll show you round. You should come over to our flat. It’s a good place for a flat party.
Hahaha right. That sounds like you are going to kill me.

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