Arctic Monkeys

"By distilling the sounds of Franz Ferdinand, the Clash, the Strokes, and the Libertines into a hybrid of swaggering indie rock and danceable neo-punk, Arctic Monkeys became one of the U.K.'s biggest bands of the new millennium. Their meteoric rise began in 2005, when the teenagers fielded offers from major labels and drew a sold-out crowd to the London Astoria, using little more than a self-released EP as bait. Several months later, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not became the fastest-selling debut album in British history, entrenching Arctic Monkeys in the same circle as multi-platinum acts like Oasis and Blur.
Frontman Alex Turner and guitarist Jamie Cook began their music careers in 2001, when the friends both received guitars for Christmas. Two years later, they began performing shows around their native Sheffield with drummer Matt Helders and bassist Andy Nicholson, two fellow students at Stocksbridge High School. A series of demo recordings followed, and Arctic Monkeys' audience swelled as fans circulated those recordings via the Internet. The musicians soon found themselves at the center of a growing media circus, with such outlets as BBC Radio examining the band's music and mounting hype.
By distributing their homemade material on the Internet, Arctic Monkeys were able to build a sizable fan base without the help of a record label, effectively circumventing the usual road to superstardom. They continued to buck tradition by signing with Domino Records in 2005, eschewing a major label's budget for Domino's D.I.Y. cred and hip roster (which also included Franz Ferdinand, a touchstone for the band's sound). The smart moves paid off as Arctic Monkeys' first two singles -- "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down" -- both topped the U.K. charts. Critical reception was similarly favorable, but few could have predicted the whirlwind success of the band's debut album, which ousted Oasis' Definitely Maybe as the fastest-selling debut in British history (a record that was broken one year later by Leona Lewis' Spirit). Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not sold 363,735 copies during its first week alone, transforming Arctic Monkeys from underground stars into mainstream figures.
Arctic Monkeys' debut sold approximately 300,000 total copies in America -- enough to warrant more media coverage, but notably less than the album's British sales during its first week alone. Nevertheless, their success continued as they released a spring EP, Who the F**k Are Arctic Monkeys, and prepared for a stateside tour. Temporary bassist Nick O'Malley was brought aboard for the band's American shows, while a fatigued Nicholson stayed at home. Nicholson then announced his official departure when the band returned home in June 2006, and O'Malley remained with Arctic Monkeys as a permanent member. That fall, the guys received the 2006 Mercury Prize and donated the accompanying money to an undisclosed charity. Additional accolades included Best British Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards and Best New Band at the NME Awards. NME also made a bold assertion by deeming the band's debut one of the Top Five British albums ever released.
Released in April 2007, Favourite Worst Nightmare updated Arctic Monkeys' sound with louder instruments and faster tempos. The bandmates had recorded the sophomore album quickly, wishing to return to the road as soon as possible, and the speedy turnaround between records helped maintain the band's popularity at home. Favourite Worst Nightmare sold 85,000 copies during its first day of release, and all 12 tracks entered the Top 200 of the U.K. singles charts. As Alex Turner briefly turned his attention to a side project, the Last Shadow Puppets, Arctic Monkeys received another Mercury Prize nomination and took home two titles at the 2008 Brit Awards. Recording sessions for a third album commenced in early 2008 and lasted throughout the year, with producers James Ford (who previously worked with Turner on the Last Shadow Puppets' album) and Josh Homme (frontman of Queens of the Stone Age) adding some newfound heft to the band's sound. Meanwhile, Arctic Monkeys released a concert album entitled At the Apollo -- with accompanying video footage captured on 35mm film -- before unveiling Humbug in August 2009.
Humbug went platinum in the U.K. but failed to produce a Top Ten hit, with "Crying Lightning" peaking at number 12 and "Cornerstone" topping out at 94. The band hit the road that February, kicking off a multi-leg tour that ran through the rest of the year. After playing another handful of shows in early 2010, the guys took a short hiatus before reconvening with James Ford for their fourth album. Sessions began that fall, and the resulting Suck It and See arrived in spring 2011. Meanwhile, Turner also wrote music for a Richard Ayoade film, Submarine, whose soundtrack doubled as the frontman's first solo release." - Andrew Leahey, AllMusicGuide

"I think people could look at us and make one assumption, and then when they see us play, that assumption will be shattered," says Julie Edwards, Deap Vally's drummer. "And that's the beauty of it."

Indeed there are plenty of assumptions to make about a female duo who on the surface of things are all wild hair, short shorts and lip-curling attitude. But this would not prepare for the sheer hurtling power of their music; the kind of inextinguishable ferocity that cannot be faked or fluked or phoneyed, that can only be hauled up from the guts.

Edwards met her bandmate and co-conspirator Lindsey Troy in the unlikely environs of a crochet class in Los Angeles's Atwater Village. Edwards was teaching; Troy her new student. "Lindsey learned crochet really fast," Edwards recalls, "she had good eye-hand co-ordination which was a good sign. But while we crocheted we bonded, and talked about our struggles as artists – how frustrated we were."

At the time, Edwards was in another duo, the Pity Party, while Troy was performing solo, each somehow orbiting one another as they played different circuits in LA. Both felt unsatisfied — Troy quietly plotting her solo world domination, while Edwards, feeling burnt-out, was contemplating a return to college to study psychology. But following that first fateful meeting their plans began to shift.
We kind of stalked each other online after that a little bit," is how Edwards explains it. "I was really impressed by her," adds Troy. "I thought she was really cool. You know, like Cool with a capital C."

The idea of jamming together seemed a natural one, and at that first session Edwards brought in a bassist friend to make up a three-piece all-female band they jokingly named God's Cuntry. But with the bassist away on tour thereafter it was just Edwards and Troy — a guitar and a drumkit and two wild voices.

"I knew before we even went in to that first jam it would be special," says Troy. "I could feel it. And I was happy being a two-piece. A big part of Deap Vally is that there are limitations, and we enjoy those limitations, but at the same time within those confines having no limitations. We like to push boundaries."

It is when they play that they say they feel freest — ignited by the roar and the pure physicality of it. "I have always wanted to make heavy music," says Edwards. They speak of their soul and gospel and punk influences, of R'n'B vocal melodies and Blues riffs meeting "powerful dark dissonant Sabbath-esque chord progressions and the spirit of rock 'n' roll." They talk of the "heavy" sensation of fingers stumbling on a new riff, arms beating drum-skins. "It's just a great release," says Edwards. "It's very freeing."

They first played live in the spring of 2011, first at the Silverlake Lounge and then at the Hotel Café, where Marilyn Manson pushed his way to the front row and heckled them as they took to the stage. After the show the first thing he said to them was, "Can I be your groupie?"

That so many eyes and so much attention lingers on their bodies and their attire does not ruffle them. "Sex is a big part of the spirit of rock 'n' roll," says Troy. Look at all the great rockers, the power they had over the crowd. Sexuality is power, and we don't want to be a neutered band; we like embracing our sexuality. It's a part of our music, and being women is a big part of it, our lyrics are very much from our experience. We're very much women."

Certainly many of the songs on this record are from a powerfully female perspective — from dealing with sleazy men in Creep Life to the glorious two-fingered defiance of Gonna Make My Own Money. "That song is kind of literal," admits Troy. "My Dad was always saying 'You're gonna have to marry a rich man!'" Edwards nods. "And my Dad would be like 'When are you going to meet a nice dentist?'" It is a song, Troy explains, that is about "people underestimating your ability to do things as women and feeling like 'fuck you I'm going to do this and prove you all wrong!' It's that spirit of independence and achievement."

But there are gentler songs here too, songs about relationship dynamics and heartbreak, as well as a number called Procreate, which was, Edwards elaborates, "an idea Lindsey had, about wanting a guy so much that you want to have their baby. That weird lust that exists, and which I totally relate to, but a lot of people don't write about, because maybe writing about babies is kind of weird. A man wouldn't write that song, and if they did it would be a little bit different. It would be more like 'I wanna knock you up so you stay home and you're mine forever.'"

They were drawn to each other, they say, by a mutual unapologeticness, by the fact that they are both, by their own definition, socially aggressive women. "I was always very drawn to female performers who were very loud and outspoken and flamboyant," says Troy. "And I feel like with Deap Vally we are unstoppable – we are so driven, full throttle, it's undeniable. We really believe in what we represent as a band. And what we represent I feel is like post-post-post feminism."

By their nature, they say, what they do is political — "In that we're women," Troy says, "and we play this type of heavy rock music, not afraid to let it all hang out," she says proudly. Edwards adds, "So many women masculinise themselves and play their femininity down, and something Lindsey and I felt is that we have never wanted to do that. I've been playing drums in tiny shorts for as long as I've been playing drums."

Certainly, short shorts and their breed of visceral, heart-churning rock 'n' roll is quite an arresting combination. "I don't know what image of femininity we're trying to fulfill," Edwards says, "and maybe we're creating a new one: we're badass but we're not mean-spirited and angry. We just really, really love heavy music."

"We believe," says Troy, "in bringing truly live music back." Edwards nods. "And we believe in the rock 'n' roll revolution, bringing guitar-based rock 'n' roll back to the mainstream. We love Led Zeppelin —they're our heroes. Because that's a band that played stadiums, didn't have a safety net of a pre-recorded back-up tape, they didn't record to a click, and they were really, really sexy and really commanding. And why can't that happen again? "

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Arctic Monkeys with Deap Valley

Tuesday, October 8 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Marathon Music Works

Off Sale