Q&A With Nick O'Malley of the Arctic Monkeys, Playing the Fillmore Miami Beach Tomorrow Night

The Arctic Monkeys, with bassist Turner second from right.
​Thursday's show at the Fillmore marks the Arctic Monkeys' first performance in Miami Beach, but the Sheffield, England rockers already count a famous local resident as an unlikely fan: Diddy. About this time last year, the band was in New York, putting the finishing touches on some studio tracks with Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford. When Ford had a gig playing the second day of Ultra Music Festival, Monkeys drummer Matt Helders tagged along.

Somewhere during a debauched Winter Music Conference party at Cameo, Diddy approached Ford and Helders, professing a love for both acts. What followed was an only-in-Miami stretch of early-morning partying at the mogul's mansion, the sleep-deprived results of which can be spotted on YouTube:

What also resulted, apparently, was a friendship. "I think Matt kind of had a bromance with him for a while," Monkeys bassist Nick O'Malley says. "When we played in New York, he came into the crowd and tried to get to the barrier, dancing along to one of our songs while people freaked out."

Who can blame him? The Monkeys' brew is an inviting one, built on the traditional guitar muscle of the best northern English indie rock. Even the notoriously cranky Noel Gallagher, of Oasis, once favorably compared the band to his own in the pages of NME. But where Oasis and the like reveled in a sort of beer-soaked near-hooliganism, the Arctic Monkeys have always gone for a more pure, less dangerous sonic joy. It's one that's undercut by English wit and more than a hint of moodiness, though. Their breakout 2005 crossover single, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," was a rousing indie dance favorite, but its lyrics seemed to mock the song's hipster queen as much as they praised her.

It's a light-dark duality the band has further explored on subsequent albums, most markedly on the most recent disc, last year's Humbug. The band is still touring behind it, while they continue to write new material on the road. Crossfade caught up with O'Maley by phone recently for chat in advance of the Miami show. Here's the Q&A.

The Arctic Monkeys. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 1. The Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $23;

Crossfade: Your tour behind Humbug has been going on now for almost two years. Why did you decide to extend it again, and come as far south as Florida?

Nick O'Malley: I don't know, I suppose there's still a lot of places we've never been, and these last few tours we've done over there we've gotten really good crowds and really good response. We've got a good fan base out there, and just try to go and do as much of it as we can and go places we haven't been before, and all the old places too. 

How often do you get to go home?

We have little breaks every now and again. I joined the band after it had started, and my first few years, we constantly toured. After a couple years of that we decided if we carried on like we might go a bit crazy, so we started doing like three weeks on, a week off. Now we get quite a bit of time off, so it's not as hectic as it must seem.

I met your drummer, Matt last year around this time, when he was down here with Simian Mobile Disco, who were playing Ultra Music Festival. When I mat them, they had apparently been partying all night with Diddy, who said he was an Arctic Monkeys fan. Have you all had any contact with him since then? 

I think Matt had kind of a bromance with him for a while. When we played in New York, Diddy was in New York at the same time, so Matt had been hanging round with him a couple nights before. And then when we played in New York, he came into the crowd and tried to get to the barrier, dancing along to one of our songs while people freaked out. The bouncer was behind him trying to keep people from hugging him and stuff, and then he went back to the balcony and kept dancing along. It was pretty surreal to have him at the gig; we enjoyed it.

Got any plans to see him in Miami while you're here?

I have no idea, because I'm not the contact point, I suppose. You'd have to ask Matt, he's the one that's got this blossoming relationship! 

You all have said in past interviews that you get bored touring behind the same album for a long time, but this tour is now in its second year, for the same record. Are you planning to release any EPs or anything in the meantime to keep things fresh?

I don't know, maybe an EP, I'm not sure. We've been talking about recording again, definitely. I think after this run in America, I think we're going to start getting some new songs together, and talk about doing the next album. I don't know if we'll do an EP, but there will definitely be some recording going off, we're all quite eager to go.

On Humbug, you recorded a total of 24 tracks with two different producers, but only 10 made it onto the album. Are you going to do anything with the other leftovers?

I think it was more about like, 20 or something. Some of them were used for B-sides, because we like to have a few B-sides on each single. And then there were a few more that didn't make it in that we kind of left, so we could rework them later on. We got as much recorded as we could, but we had not done what we could do with these particular ones, so we kept them in a reserved stash, if that makes sense. So I suppose we treated them more like demos, and then maybe we'll do them fully in the future.

Have you gotten a chance to write any new material at all?

We've definitely been, at sound checks and stuff. I think we've got a new four or five songs that we've been tinkering with, I suppose. We've kind of just been trying to fit things into what Alex comes up with, lyrics and vocal melodies. Alex is always doing lyrics and has a guitar with him, and sound check is the moment where everything's set up and we can try it out together. 

Alex has said you listened to a lot of Jimi Hendrix and Cream when you were writing Humbug. Is that influence coming out more on the new material?

I don't know, we listen to all kinds of things. I've been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd and Nick Cave. I guess you don't know directly how it all influences you, then when you hear it complete, you can hear it. I guess it kind of subconsciously must rub off, and then afterwards it's more apparent.

On your new stuff, is this the direction you'll still be going in? How is your sound evolving?

We've always talked about doing an album that's just fast all the way through, and energetic. But for the next one, we're talking about doing something fast all the way through. We always wanted to do that and were going to for the last one -- but then we didn't want to leave the slow songs out! But definitely the ones we've been doing are just fast and riff-oriented rock -- we just love fast songs. 

When do you think you might get around to recording?

There's no timetable just yet, but I think we're going to start recording around the end of summer time this year, all being well. We're definitely getting all the songs prepared over the summer, then hopefully towards the end of the year we'll get a recording started. We're all just kind of taking it as it comes. 

Have you thought about a producer yet?

I've been wondering that myself, and I don't know, it all depends. We really enjoyed working with both James [Ford of Simian Mobile Disco] and Josh [Homme of Queens of the Stone Age], but it's always nice to try something new.

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo