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Alex from the Arctic Monkeys
Alex performing to The Room

Too much Monkey business?

By Rob Webb
Playlisted by BBC Radio One, High Green's Arctic Monkeys have risen from relative unknowns to stars of the Sheffield scene. But they're keeping their feet firmly on the ground...

"We live in Sheffield, and just write about the things we see here. What else is there to write about?" asks Arctic Monkeys singer / guitarist Alex Turner.

As tonight's gig at The Room demonstrates, this approach has already won the band a devoted local following.

Word is spreading quickly, though. Zane Lowe played the band's 'Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor' on his Radio 1 show back in November, and they've picked up new fans everywhere they've been since.

Alex on stage
Al's comfortable with his Sheffield singing accent

"A group of lads travelled down from Nottingham for the gig tonight. That's great for us because we're still in the early stages on the grand scheme of things," says Turner.

And he's right. Formed in the summer of 2002, Arctic Monkeys have only been playing gigs for a little over a year and a half.

It doesn't show; tonight's performance blows away headliner Tom Vek, not that anyone's really bothered about him. To all intents and purposes, this is a Monkeys headline show and they well and truly steal it.

The 19-year-old frontman is a guitar wielding bundle of energy, flanked by bassist Andy Nicholson, 18, and guitarist James Cook, 19. It was Cook who came up with the idea of a band called Arctic Monkeys, in what Turner terms "a biblical revelation."

The quartet, completed by 18 year old drummer Matt Helders, play with the kind of raucous abandon that belies their tender years. At times punk, at times rock, and always full of beans, the Monkeys don't just play, they perform.

Turner delivers songs about fights outside nightclubs and odes to girls that got away in his distinctive South Yorkshire accent, and the crowd laps up each and every one.

"On a couple of early recordings I sound totally different, like an American," says Turner, "but I feel much more comfortable with my Sheffield accent. It's natural, it's how I sound, and I wouldn't go back."

Arctic Monkeys have yet to release a single or album but their demo, recorded at Sheffield's 2Fly studios with 'local genius' Alan Smyth, has attracted considerable industry interest.

They plan to release a single soon, which Turner says "might be 'Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor', but we're not sure. We just keep writing, we've got about 15 at the moment."

Among that number are the riotous 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco' and 'Scummy', "a song about prostitutes in Neep's End where we've got a rehearsal studio."

The singer says he "can't wait to make a record," an enthusiasm shared by anyone who has witnessed the Monkeys in action so far.

Catch them while you can.

The Arctic Monkeys played at The Room on Wednesday, 2 February, 2005.

last updated: 04/02/05
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