With less than three weeks until its release, there’s a code of silence surrounding the sixth album from Arctic Monkeys. The band have yet to release any tracks from Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino and their label, Domino, are not saying very much at all about the first Arctic Monkeys record in almost five years. But Guy Moot, Sony/ATV UK MD and president, worldwide creative, has spoken to Music Week about the much-anticipated comeback. Here, the band’s long-time publisher discusses his admiration for Alex Turner’s songwriting and what we can expect when the LP drops on May 11…
You have a long history with Arctic Monkeys, don’t you?
We go back. I was head of A&R [at EMI Music Publishing, where Mike Smith signed the band in June 2005] many years ago and we heard about this incredible band. I remember going to a gig at the Dublin Castle and there was every record company chairman’s limousine outside. Everything that I’d heard was true. I will talk about that gig for the rest of my life, the Arctic Monkeys at the Dublin Castle and just how good and exciting it was at that time.
Alex Turner is an incredibly consistent songwriter. Has he done it again on this album?
He’s a true songwriter but he’s also a truly artistic songwriter. Interestingly for me, I read the lyrics before I heard the songs. His ability to write – it’s poetry, let’s be honest – but still put it into incredible, melodic songs, he’s far more diverse than people think. And if you look through the band’s albums, what he’s done is just build an incredible catalogue of songs from the upbeat early stuff like I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor to beautiful, resonating mid-tempo ballads. There’s a lot going on [with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino], it’s the lyrical content, it’s the concepts, it’s the narrative – he’s a true bard. And, at a time when lyrics are sometimes devalued, he really comes up with poetry. If you love Alex Turner’s songwriting, he’s got the ability of all great songwriters that you can immerse yourself deeper and deeper into the songs.
The song titles alone – such as The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip – are enough to intrigue you about this record, aren’t they?
It evokes a scene. With the best songwriters, you love the song originally, but you can then listen to it again and again and get deeper into it. With this new album, when I heard it, it’s a record of incredible intricacy that, if you’re a fan, you’re just going to want to get deeper and deeper into it, you can find different meanings, lyrically you can delve deeper and deeper. There are just incredible moments, incredible arrangements, incredible playing, it’s very important for UK music this year.
Their last album, AM, has OCC sales of 1,085,989. What are your expectations for this record?
There are few releases in the calendar year that I would call an event; when the Monkeys release a record, it’s an event. It’s the sort of record people will stop their day to listen to it and rush to their streaming accounts or however they consume it. It’s a big event for the UK music industry.
It’s an on-going chapter and I think [Alex Turner’s] just written another masterpiece, which solidifies him once more as one of the great UK songwriters. I don’t think they need to set targets or achievements, people will climb on board. You saw last time with America, without a huge amount of push, that more and more people warmed to the Monkeys. There’s a lot of people out there still discovering the Arctic Monkeys, and that’s a great thing as well because you can then also discover the back catalogue. I’m sure it will be huge. I know I’ll certainly be playing it non-stop when it comes out and will continue to for a long time.
Do you think it might contribute to a rock revival?
I don’t think you can just package them in with British rock groups. I hear a lot of melancholy soul in it, I hear a lot of beautiful arrangements, there’s a lot of other things going on there – the drumming, the playing, everything about it.
The great thing about the way they’re going to release the album is you’re going to listen to it as a body of work
AM produced three genuine hits – can Artic Monkeys still make an impact on the singles chart with songs from this album?
The definition of a hit single is slightly different these days. They make records that sound great on radio, whereas a lot of rock sounds slightly outdated on radio and it certainly doesn’t stream very well. The sonics of rock and streaming are challenging but, again, they surpass this. I hear great arrangements, I hear soulfulness, the Turner phrasing, beautiful lyrics, beautiful playing.
Have the band followed the trend for bringing in co-writers?
No, we applaud someone who can write 100% of his songs, music and lyrics. He [Turner] is not a guy who needs to co-write. As much as co-writing is in vogue and is part of our world and certainly part of the charts, there’s nothing wrong with someone who can write 100% of their songs.
Do you think this record will be big on streaming?
It’s old-fashioned I know, but I hope a lot of people will want to digest the vinyl and the physical on this record, because it does come with a higher concept and a theme running through it. The artwork is going to be fucking amazing, as well as the whole design and run through for this campaign. Of course, streaming is there and if that means more people can access it and a new fanbase can enjoy the songs of Alex Turner, that’s a great thing.
Is the lack of singles a good way to build anticipation for the album?
Sometimes in this day and age, less is more. This is a hugely anticipated record and the waiting will make it even more exciting come May 11. The great thing about the way they’re going to release the album is you’re going to listen to it as a body of work. You are going to enjoy it for how it was made with a concept running all the way through it. It’s really exciting – this is a really important moment for the UK music industry and UK music.