TOKYO - Award-winning British rockers Arctic Monkeys, whose cheeky garage punk origins have evolved seamlessly into stadium-filling success across America, are ready for a break.
Shrugging off the label of World's Biggest Band in some sections of the music press, the indie-rock stars told AFP in an interview at Tokyo's Summer Sonic festival that they were looking forward to some down-time after taking the United States by storm.
"There isn't any rush to do something else yet," said drummer Matt Helders. "For now this album seems like a place to leave it for a bit. We've never really had an indefinite chunk of time off. I don't think we can tour (this record) anymore." The release of their fifth album "AM" last September triggered a flood of critical acclaim and accolades but their transformation from brash teenagers to biker chic pin-ups means they can barely get through a show now without being pelted with women's underwear.
"More bras this year," said Helders. "Like nearly every gig. People write their e-mail addresses on them. It's the first time we've had a lot of radio play and played bigger shows in America, definitely.
"We were never looking for more in America. You're still thousands of miles away from home so just not playing to an empty room in America was success for us." The four-piece shot to fame in 2006 with the explosive teenage energy of "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" - Britain's fastest-selling debut album ever, bristling with lyrics about lairy nights out in their home city of Sheffield in the north of England.
The band topped the American charts with the sultry "AM" and sold out arenas across the country, frontman Alex Turner becoming a sex symbol in his rockabilly quiff and leather jackets.
"Every time we've made a record we have tried to move forward a bit," added Helders. "We might have made a bigger leap this time. When we did our third album 'Humbug' that was a big step, but one that gave us confidence to do something a bit different." Headlining Japan's Summer Sonic, which takes place over two days in Tokyo and Osaka and also featured Kasabian, Queen, Avril Lavigne, Kraftwerk and the Pixies, the Arctic Monkeys rocked a crowd of 40,000 with tunes such as "Fake Tales of San Francisco" and "Arabella" at the seaside baseball stadium as a lightning storm flashed overhead.
The band's latest release shows a darker, deeper side to their music, richer in texture and with the theme of heartbreak at the album's core, as in the achingly tender "Do I Wanna Know?" Helders said: "Some of the old stuff just doesn't make as much sense anymore to play. Or it doesn't fit into the set as well. There's nothing we're ashamed of.
"Anybody who was 18 and is now 28 looks back and is like 'Why did I have that hairstyle, or why did I wear that?' It's just we've been scrutinised more. It is a bit mad in terms of how long ago we started the band and how much has happened.
"Maybe at this point in time we're the biggest band in the world but I've never taken that seriously. I don't wake up thinking I'm on top of the world. But I can't complain." Guitarist Jamie Cook agreed their latest cut was a major departure from their early work, where tongue-in-cheek references to 1980s bands such as Duran Duran were mischievously dropped into hits like "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "Teddy Picker." "There's a lot of R&B influence in this record," he said of "AM", which has drawn comparisons with everything from the G-funk of Dr.Dre to David Bowie's backing band Spiders from Mars, or The Strokes with its fuzzy guitar riffs. "There's a lot more groove and probably less traditional rock guitar. It's a fun album to play." Helders agreed.
"There's definitely interesting parts in this album," he said. "We've got the opportunity to play a lot of new songs that people want to hear. I didn't expect to play eight out of ten of the new songs every night - usually they want the old hits."