Nick O’Malley grew up with the other members of Arctic Monkeys in Sheffi eld, England.
But the 21-year-old bassist had elected to join another band in town and watched with both awe and alarm as his mates exploded with last year’s “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” the fastest-selling debut in British history.
“They got massive and my band went nowhere and I was, ‘Aw ... (I) made the wrong decision there,” says O’Malley, who wound up replacing Andy Nicholson in the group in the spring of 2006. “I thought, ‘(expletive), I missed out.’
“But we always used to say we’d start a band one day. They came back and got me.”
Even as a late arrival, O’Malley calls the zoo that’s become the Arctic Monkeys’ lives “surreal.” “Whatever People Say...” launched two British No. 1 hits, including “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” and won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and a pair of Brit Awards. It did well on these shores, too, hitting No. 24 on the Billboard 200 chart and being named Time magazine’s Album of the Year.
The ascent has continued with the group’s just-released sophomore set, “Favourite Worst Nightmare.” It debuted at No. 7 on Billboard and has, predictably, soared to top of the British surveys, with all 12 songs appearing on the singles charts there thanks to rules for counting downloads.
“It’s hard to believe you’re playing around the world and all these people like you and buy your albums and everything,” O’Malley notes. “We just never thought it would get to this level, so it always seems really surreal.”
The quartet began working on “Favourite Worst Nightmare” in the fall of 2006, holing up in London with producers James Ford and Mike Crossey. “The only pressure we felt was what we put on ourselves,” O’Malley says. “We more or less ignored all the media stuff and all the hype and everything.
“It’s always in the back of your mind that you want people to like what you do. But if you get too bogged down in that world, you’ll probably end up going insane and writing songs that you know will get played on radio rather than music you actually like.”
O’Malley says most of “Favourite Worst Nightmare’s” songs came from band jams, though singerguitarist Alex Turner remains the chief writer and lyricist. The group tapped a wider range of sources for its second album, augmenting its frenetic, staccato sound with influences from American surf music, British electronic act The Prodigy and hard rockers Queens of the Stone Age, whose drum work had a marked affect on the Monkeys’ Matt Helders.
“He started hitting the drums twice as hard as he had before,” O’Malley says with a laugh.
That fit the tenor of the sessions, however. The bass player says that early on it was evident that Arctic Monkeys wanted to rock more than anything else this time out.
“At first,” he says, “we were talking about how we could make it half-and-half — half of the album really slow tunes and the other half really fast, bangy one. And then as we were doing it, it just seemed really exciting to play the fast ones.
“So then we were talking about an album with no slows song songs at all. But we all kind of came to terms that that would be stupid and decided to go with mostly fast songs and have a couple of slows on in there to kind of give it a bit of depth. “I think we’re all happy it went that way.”
Arctic Monkeys and Be Your Own Pet perform 8 p.m. Wednesday (May 9th)at Clutch Cargo’s, 65 E. Huron St., Pontiac. Tickets are sold out. Call (248) 333-2362 or visit www.clutchcargos.com.
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