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Arctic Monkeys Play Wrex the Halls

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The Arctic Monkeys will be part of the big line-up for 91X’s Wrex the Halls show on Sunday night as they continue their worldwide tour in support of their latest album, AM. They’ve just wrapped up headlining at concert halls and arenas across Europe, and now they’re hitting Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and then back to Europe. I caught up with Nick O’Malley, the bass player for the band, for a couple of minutes before their second show in Vancouver.

Q. How are things going on the tour? Vancouver last night?

A. Yeah, well we just had a week off and then last night we did the first one of this little trip across North America. It was nice to get back into it. We’ve been doing a lot of shows around Europe recently, so a week off was very much appreciated. I think we all feel rejuvenated.

Q. That sounded like quite a tour. You guys had some problems along the way? Some rescheduled shows?

A. Well, Alex had laryngitis and he sounded like Christian Bale in the Batman movies. So we had to reschedule a few shows, but he’s back to full health now.

Q. Were there any riots from the reschedules?

A. Actually, there were some pretty upset people. The one in Birmingham was rough. He woke up that morning and his voice was really bad, but he really didn’t want to cancel it. So he thought maybe he could sleep for a while and hopefully get better. He woke up, it was worse and we had to cancel at the last minute. People had booked hotel rooms and had train tickets. It was just unavoidable, unfortunately.

Q. But you made it up to everybody it sounds like.

A. Yeah, thankfully everybody came out and I don’t think anybody was going to hold it against us.

Q. Even your hometown? You had to reschedule Sheffield?

A. We did. We had to reschedule Birmingham, Glasgow and Sheffield.

Q. Well, we’re glad you’re out here on the West Coast. Looking forward to the show here in San Diego. It’s quite a line-up.

A. It should be a good day.

Q. And this is your new digs out here, right? The West Coast?

A. Yeah, we’ve been spending a lot of time in LA. We’ve made our last three records in California, out in Joshua Tree and two in LA. Starting to feel very familiar—we’re starting to feel like adopted Californians.

Q. Now, what’s been the difference recording at these different locations? Joshua Tree, Sage and Sound in Hollywood…

A. I think it’s definitely made a difference. The album we did in Joshua Tree was Humbug, and I think that’s the more kind of “out there” record. Although it’s not that crazy, but it’s the most kind of a journey—not the band Journey—that we’ve done. And I suppose the desert kind of influenced that. It’s very surreal, like you’re on another planet. Clear, starry skies and rocky alien-looking landscapes, and I think that definitely influenced Humbug a little bit.

And then with Sage and Sound, I suppose I can’t directly say that recording there had that much of an affect. You’re just recording in a room that’s pretty much like any other anywhere else in the world. No windows; it’s not like we were affected by it whilst in the studio. It’s just the travel back and forth to the studio that you’re aware you’re in LA, with the palm trees and such.

Q. And you recorded at Sound City Studios too, right?

A. That’s right. And that place has closed down.

Q. Unfortunately. I saw the Sound City Players show at the Palladium; that was an amazing show.

A. I saw the documentary not long ago.

Q. What was it like recording there?

A. I’m really glad we did that. That’s definitely a story for the grandkids. It did feel really special. I remember there was a corridor with all the gold and platinum disks that were made there, and Queens of the Stone Age had done one of their records there. Nirvana recorded there. I remember thinking, wow, Kurt Cobain sat on this couch. Maybe. It might have been a new couch, I don’t know. But just thinking about all the amazing people that had been in that room.

Q. And in the Sound City documentary, the guys from Nirvana were doing the same thing, thinking about all the amazing records that had come out of that place before them.

A. Yeah, a lot of history there.

Q. Your new album, AM, sounds amazing. Every review I’ve read has been outstanding. It seems like it’s a little more R&B, a little more bluesy, a little more bassy than some past albums. That must feel pretty good for you as the bass player.

A. Well, the reviews have been really positive. I guess we took a little bit of a chance and we decided we really liked the bluesy, 70s kind of sexy riffs, and we just tried to blend that with some R&B influenced vocals, and we thought we had something we hadn’t really done before. So we went in that direction without really knowing if people were going to like it or not. But people seem to like it, which is a big bonus for us. Sometimes it seems like people just make albums for themselves, and if people don’t like it, then fuck ‘em, but I think we definitely do want people to like our record.

Q. It sounds like people love it. Have you been playing a lot of the new stuff on tour, or are you adding more as you go?

A. With this record we’ve been playing more new stuff than with any other previous record. In the past when we’ve released new albums we’ve added a few, three, four songs. With the show around Europe—and I’m sure it’ll be similar in the U.S.—we’ve been playing seven or eight songs off the new record. And at some point we’ve played every song from the record live at various shows. I think that’s the first time we’ve ever done that with any record.

Q. Well, there are a lot of bands in the line-up for this upcoming show—I hope you get to play the whole album. You guys going to be fighting over stage time?

A. Probably. I can’t remember which shows exactly, but some we only get about thirty minutes—barely even break a sweat in thirty minutes. Obviously we’re used to playing like ninety-minute shows, so it’ll be difficult to decide what songs to cut. But I’m sure the majority we’ll play will be from the new record.

Q. That sounds good. Any plans for another trip down here when you’ll get a little more time on stage?

A. Hopefully, yeah. We’d like to do our own show down there. Nothing penciled in yet, but we’re pretty close by.

Q. It’s just down the freeway.

A. Exactly.

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