From his early love of crooners to life-changing indie shows...
Arctic Monkeys (Credit: Zackery Michael)

Let’s face it: Alex Turner is one hell of a frontman. His confidence and oozing charisma has helped steer Arctic Monkeys into becoming one of the biggest bands around, and with the bombshell announcement of a new album and tour, they aren’t quite finished yet.

With the hype surrounding them and Alex Turner seen as the face of the band, Clash was overwhelmed with obsessive fans keen to impart their self-gleaned knowledge to our pages.

After much investigating and using our stalker skills to full advantage, we share the following titbits of facts and tales on this era-defining talent…

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1. Sheffield born, Alex Turner grew up with a very diverse array of music at home, including records by Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and The Beach Boys. His father was a ‘jazz-head’ being a member of big bands, and played the saxophone, clarinet and piano. This encouraged Turner to also take piano lessons, however, only lasted until he reached the age of eight; following this, his parents got him his first guitar for Christmas.

2. University bound to study English, Turner persuaded his parents to let him defer for a year to pursue his musical ambition. Working on the band whilst working at a bar, he unsurprisingly never made it to university, however, he sure made it as a musician. Soon after the Arctic Monkeys released their first single ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’. If he went to University who knows what he would be doing now...

3. When at college, his English teacher Steve Baker described Alex as “quite reserved... incredibly laid-back… a little bit different”. Sorry, are were you talking about Alex Turner or someone else here!? Apparently he is said to have had a very “lackadaisical” approach to school work too, which worried his mother.

4. Attended his first gig in 2002, Turner saw The Vines in Manchester. With their sound being described as a musical hybrid of 1960s garage rock and 1990s alternative rock, you could say this sparked ideas for future bands; Arctic Monkeys included. Following the breakthrough of The Strokes also, Alex was drawn to guitar bands including The Hives and The White Stripes.

5. In 2003 (aged 16), he travelled to London with Matt Helders and Andy Nicholson to watch The Strokes play at Alexandra Palace where they met Libertines’ Pete Doherty in the audience. This was when things started to get interesting for Turner. Exactly two years after that gig - to the week- oh how the tables had turned for all concerned. This time it was The Strokes who were left open-mouthed after witnessing a hyped new band called the Arctic Monkeys play 25 minutes of the most mesmerising, precision-perfect Buzzcocks-esque performance. Having already displaced Doherty as the UK’s premier songwriter, Turner was about to go global.

6. Too shy at first, he initially didn’t want to be the lead singer of the band. The original singer was Glyn Jones, a fellow student at Stocksbridge High.

7. Alex isn’t a fan of the bands first hit single ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’. Despite it being their first number one hit and the song that launched them into stardom, the frontman doesn’t think much of it. He evidently said, “It’s a bit shit. The words are rubbish. It could be a big song, but I’d hate to be just known for that song because it’s crap.”

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8. In 2010, he wrote six songs for the movie ‘Submarine,’ a British-American coming-of-age comedy-drama film, adapted from the 2008 novel Submarine by Joe Dunthorne. The film was written and directed by Richard Ayoade, with Andrew Hewitt composing the score. All of the original songs were written and performed by Alex Turner, with Hewitt and Turner previously having worked together. The soundtrack charted at 35 in the UK Album Chart.

9. On closing track ‘I Wanna Be Yours,’ he specifically set a poem by John Cooper Clarke to music. While Alex didn’t write poetry in school, his English teacher was the first to introduce him to John Cooper Clarke’s poetry in class. You might recognise it, with it apparently being a staple in GCSE English for years. As he has previously explained, Clarke was a huge inspiration for him as a lyricist.

10. Last Shadow Puppets album ’Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ was mixed in Bob Dylan’s old tour bus. In an interview with Live4Ever, Alex Turner explained that the album originated from songwriting with fellow vocalist Miles Kane with the two quickly then feeling the desire to revive the project. The album was recorded in the summer of 2015 in Rick Rubin’s Shangri La Studios located in Malibu, California. Using Dylan’s old tour bus there as the mixing room, where you can fully imagine the smell of the Pacific Ocean through the warm, serene garden breeze.

11. Despite being an indie idol Alex Turner loves the oldies - his favourite singer is Frank Sinatra.

12. An ordinary lad from Sheffield, Alex Turner’s burgeoning fame has taken him across the globe. Now settled in Los Angeles, his net worth (as of 2018) is estimated at $30 million.

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Arctic Monkeys will release new album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ on May 11th.

Words: Lauren McDermott

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