Arctic Monkeys have been keeping rock ‘n’ roll alive and kicking in the 21st Century, continuing to make sure that the spirit ushered in by the likes of Iggy Pop all those decades ago lives on.
Iggy Pop is one of rock’s most treasured souls. It’s over 50 years since he made his grand entrance into public consciousness when The Stooges released their forceful eponymous debut and, since then, Iggy has become one of the great raconteurs. His topless serenades have made him one of the quintessential frontmen, and the ground he has broken throughout his career remains fertile and ready for new beginnings at the turn of every season, just like a certain band from Sheffield who doesn’t shy away from reinvention.
Throughout his career, the one constant has been Iggy’s ability to carry on grinding, continuously releasing records and slowly building up a repertoire of music that cemented his status as an icon. Remarkably, he didn’t achieve a top 50 charting release in the States until 2016, with Post Pop Depression. The album landed at 17 in the US charts and five in the UK. The record saw Iggy jump back into the world of collaboration by recruiting Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and Queens of The Stone Age duo Josh Homme and Dean Fertita.
The collaboration was an intriguing one, and Helders is somebody who Iggy has directly inspired on his musical journey. Working with the former Stooges man was a bucket list moment for the drummer as he shared the stage with one of his heroes.
In 2012, Alex Turner opened up about the impact of Iggy Pop and how he directly impacted his songwriting for Arctic Monkeys’ fourth album, Suck It And See. The frontman told Pitchfork: “I read this story about Iggy Pop where he said there was a TV show he used to watch when he was young, and the guy would ask kids to write letters into the show, and the letters had to be less than 25 words, and he applied that to writing ‘No Fun’.
“So, since we always do songs with a thousand words, we thought we should try one that had less than 30, which turned out to be ‘Brick by Brick’. But I got the drummer to sing it because it seemed like the right thing to do,” he added.
Helders stepped up to deliver surprisingly proficient vocals on the track, and it’s a track that always goes off when Arctic Monkeys play it live. It’s romantic that his future bandmate, Iggy Pop, influenced the only album track that Helders has provided lead vocals for on an Arctic Monkeys record.
“That song introduced us to a new side of ourselves,” Turner added. “Even though it is dumbed down, we know it, and it’s got a sense of humour; it says “I wanna rock’n’roll” like three times, which is hilarious. There have always been jokes all over our songs; I originally started writing lyrics to make my friends crack a smile, which is difficult. ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ is like one big fucking gag. I know my lyrics might be weird to some, but they’re not like that to me because I know where they come from – I know the secret.”
In truth, Iggy Pop has never been celebrated as one of the world’s greatest lyricists. However, it’s the bundles of energy that he brings into everything he does which has landed him with his iconoclast status. He has the capabilities to make a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece out of any collection of random words that a thesaurus spewed out of him at random. ‘Brick By Brick’ was never going to land Alex Turner an Ivor Novello, but it’s a barnstorming anthem that Iggy Pop would be proud of creating.