We were talking about this the other day and Alex said it’s often easier to name it before he writes the song. Like, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” was a title before it was a song, there was no other way that would have worked. I suppose “Brick by Brick” as well.
When we come to naming an album that’s always a difficult part, you already made the album and then you have to call it something. Next time we make a record we were saying how we should do all that first, even artwork, then we can just record and it won’t matter really. We can get all that off our mind. The whole way through it you are thinking, oh now we have two months to deliver artwork, come up with a name, commit to that and not change our minds. I suppose we just have to do a bit more planning.
For song titles, some will just be something someone says, and we think that will be a good song title no matter how stupid it is, and just write a song around it.
At South By Southwest this year Bruce Springsteen said in a speech, “Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive. And when you walk on stage tonight to bring the noise, treat it like it’s all we have … and then remember, it’s only rock and roll.” What keeps you hungry to stay in the music industry?
That (quote) is pretty good there isn’t it? I suppose it depends on if you think of it as an industry. For us it’s always been a hobby that turned into a job. It still feels like that. Obviously, it can’t be hard work physically, but you can be exhausted and you are away from home a lot.
It doesn’t take much to make me stay hungry for this. It’s not hard to be into this. It’s a dream job in many ways. Playing live and getting a good response, especially on this tour it kind of means more when you get a good response. By the end of the show the rooms are getting full, and people are cheering.
I like seeing the people at first who didn’t have a clue who we were, and you can see that progression from the people in the front row who are waiting for The Black Keys to come on, but by the end of it they are into it. That’s what doing a tour like this is all about, and we hadn’t had that feeling for a long time because I suppose we took it for granted.
When we tour England we do tours like this, and they are sold out and they are there to see us. Obviously it’s a great feeling; it’s just a different feeling. You can go on (stage headlining) thinking, ‘Yeah, they are going to like this because that is why they came, and unless we really fuck this up, it’s going to be fine.’
In a way there is more pressure, and in a way there is less because nobody is going to go home disappointed because they are going to see The Black Keys next. Also, we would like to impress a few people who are not necessarily here to see us or had even heard of us.
Can you tell from stage which song on this tour is getting the best positive response?
As of the moment it is “R U Mine”, which we didn’t except. We didn’t play it for the first couple of shows because we recorded it and never had a chance to rehearse it live. The first show it rolled a bit rushed because we didn’t get a soundcheck, and we couldn’t do it without practicing it. The second show we did it at people knew words, and we thought, “This is mad,” so now we close the set with it.
We went from not playing it, to it being the last song and people are into it. The ones we always play from the first record like, “The View from the Afternoon” and “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” are there, but we are missing out some singles like “Suck It and See” just so we can play “R U Mine?”. Obviously, we only get an hour to play, but it makes for a good mix in the setlist.
Is there any drum kit you will not part with, even if you do not play it again?
Yeah, I’ve still got the drum kit that I used on the first record, which is what I got for my eighteenth birthday. There is one I bought and hadn’t used on the new record, or toured with because it’s old. I’ll keep it at home and play on it, but I won’t take it on tour because I’m not necessarily looking after it. Someone else is carrying it around, and you don’t really know what’s going to happen to it. There are only a couple that have sentimental value, but everything else I’ll get a new one for certain tours. Right now, I have a Union Jack one that I like a lot, but it will only mean something to me after a couple of years of playing it.
Lyrically, what is your favorite Arctic Monkeys song from the album Suck It and See?
I like the ones that are a bit more cryptic, and a bit less spelled out for you and you have to work it out for yourself. Maybe “Black Treacle” because I like how it starts. The opening line doesn’t necessarily make sense, or it does but you have to do a bit of thinking about what he means by that. He left it up to the listener a bit. His interpretation of it might not necessarily be what you get from it, but there is no right or wrong answer.
Musically, what is your favorite Arctic Monkeys song from the album Suck It and See?
I think maybe “All My Own Stunts” which we haven’t played for a long time, and I kind of forgot about that song. It’s not as musical as some of the other ones. It’s a bit more simple and straight forward, but it sounds quite tuff, and is quite exciting to play.
What is a song you never get sick of hearing?
When I do like a song I really do hammer it for quite a while, and do end up getting sick of it. I suppose the stuff I listened to back in school I could still listen to today, like Dr. Dre. The whole record 2001 I could probably never get sick of that.
Do you remember who introduced you to Dr. Dre’s music?
Probably friends, like me and Al used to listen to it at school and it was probably from Eminem being popular on the radio, and then we would look into it. Kids at school that were my age, that is what we were into. At that time the only guitar music we knew was Oasis, Pulp, and Blur, which my older brother was into. Then for us, hip-hop was current at that time, or if there was any guitar stuff it was Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit, which we weren’t into. It took The Strokes to come along to open our eyes to music that wasn’t necessarily Dr. Dre.
What does the rest of 2012 look like for the Arctic Monkeys?
We will probably have a couple of months in summer to just relax, and then we have one more festival to do with Metallica. That’s another thing that we just added on, and thought might as well. It’s a month after this finishes so we were kind of tempted to just go, ‘No, that’s it, we are off,’ but I think Lars (Ulrich) personally asked us to do it a few times, and he has come to see us a few times. I think it’s his festival in Atlantic City. It’s called Orion Festival (Orion Music + More).
The Black Keys tour is in two legs, the first one ends next week, then we go to South America, then play Coachella, and then we pick up this tour again.
After that in May the plan was to just stop, but we are doing this one Metallica thing just because we thought it was too good to miss. It’s another opportunity to do something different. Then after that maybe we’ll talk about making a record again.