Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Friday, 24 February 2006

Monkeys let music do the talking

The Arctic Monkeys
The band's album sold more than 100,000 copies on its first day

Indie sensations the Arctic Monkeys have won three NME Awards after being named best UK breakthrough act at the Brit Awards.

They sold more than 360,000 copies of their album in its first week of release, the UK's fastest-selling debut since records began. But who are they?

If the music press myth is to be believed, the Arctic Monkeys' early success was not down to a shrewd marketing campaign by a record company or a savvy svengali.

Legend says it was thanks to the power of the internet that an army of fans latched onto free downloads of demo recordings on the web.

The band are quick to point out that they did not put the songs online themselves - and were barely aware of what was happening at the time.

The Sheffield quartet started gigging at small venues in 2003 and handed out demo CDs to the crowd, who in turn put them on the internet for others to hear.

Despite the promise of fame and fortune, they initially resisted signing with a major record label, opting instead for the independent Domino Records, home of Franz Ferdinand.

The Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys have had two UK number one singles
Frontman Alex Turner, guitarist Jamie Cook, bassist Andy Nicholson and drummer Matthew Helders have kept details of their personal lives close to their chests.

Little is known aside from Alex and Matthew were at college together and they are still only 19 years old.

They admit they struggle to talk about themselves and their music during interviews.

"It's flattering for people to say we're the next big thing," says Helders.

"It's nice to hear. But you don't want it to go so far that it's not about the music, that it's about people being told to like it."

The attention sets the record up to be a disappointment
Alex Turner

But that did not stop them scoring their first number one single in October 2005 with I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, which enjoyed heavy radio airplay.

The hit helped them cross swiftly over to the mainstream, but they seem reluctant to follow well-trodden music industry paths.

They even turned down an appearance on Top of the Pops when their single hit number one, a rare thing for any act.

"I don't want people to like us for the wrong reasons. But I think people aren't stupid. They can see through it and realise that they do actually like us," Helder says.

Award success

Their debut album - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - outsold the rest of the top 20 album chart combined in its first week of release.

Their second single, When the Sun Goes Down, also went straight to the top of the chart.

Further acclaim was achieved when Arctic Monkeys scooped four nominations for the NME Awards - best British band, best new band, best live band and best track.

Despite the fact that Kaiser Chiefs had a record six nominations, Arctic Monkeys went on to win in all their categories except best live band.

Arctic Monkeys at Portsmouth's Guildhall
The band played a Portsmouth gig instead of collecting their Brit Award

Tickets for their long-sold out concerts as part of the NME tour sold for upwards of 100 on auction sites.

Arctic Monkeys opted to play one of those shows, at Portsmouth Guildhall, instead of collecting their UK breakthrough act award at this year's Brits.

They recorded a hoax acceptance speech, delivered by Keith Murray of US band We Are Scientists posing as a member, which was broadcast during the Brit Awards.

NME assistant editor Malik Meer said: "The fact that they have had two number one singles means they are not just for a core of obsessive fans. This is good old honest rock 'n' roll, which we have been lacking lately."

The band will continue to stay wary of the hype, though.

"For where we're at it is too much, compared to what stage we're at as a band," says Alex Turner.

"We're just starting really. The attention sets the record up to be a disappointment.

"It'll be built up to such a thing that if it doesn't cure cancer or solve inner city poverty or something it'll be a disaster. But people get carried away, don't they? Fair enough."

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