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How Nirvana inspired an Arctic Monkeys album


When Nirvana recorded Nevermind at Sound City in California, they left a permanent stench in the studios. The history of those sessions still fills the building with an overwhelming aura, even over 30 years later.

Since the three-piece made one of the most iconic records of all time within those four walls, many have been attracted to head to Los Angeles in pursuit of creating a slice of history their own. Following Nirvana’s venture, Weezer, Queens of the Stone Age, Kings Of Leon, and Arctic Monkeys also made their way to the holy Sound City.

The Sheffield four-piece went out to Los Angeles for their fourth album, Suck It and See, and the sun-soaked setting helped them make the bright, summery album which marked a drastic departure from its darker predecessor, Humbug.

When they were looking at places to record their new album, once they realised Nirvana had used the same space for Nevermind, all the other options were suddenly deemed irrelevant. They knew precisely their preferred location for the album.

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Although Suck It and See doesn’t share much in common with the grunge classic, the group deliberately tried to replicate the live element from Nevermind, according to frontman Alex Turner. He explained following the release of the record in 2011: “We wanted to try and record pretty live, and the drum room there is where they did Nevermind, so that was a big draw.”

Speaking to NME about the process of recording in such a hallowed location, Turner recalled: “There’s this engineer who is still there [from the ‘Nevermind’ days], a serious guy, who we respected. We had to really try and not break out into messing around with any Nirvana covers. ‘Polly’ or ‘Drain You’.”

He continued: “I remember when we recorded in Electric Lady, I started playing ‘Purple Haze‘, and everybody was, ‘Ah, come on, f***ing leave it out.’ So this time, I thought maybe not.”

Turner didn’t completely rule out the possibility of the band turning their hand to covering Nirvana one day but ruled out the possibility of it being anything from Nevermind. He said: “If we were ever going to do a Nirvana tune, it wouldn’t be a ‘Nevermind’ song, it’d be ‘Very Ape’ from In Utero. That would be the best Nirvana song for us to cover.” Unfortunately, we are still waiting to hear their take on the track.

Arctic Monkeys would take Los Angeles to their hearts following the recording of Suck It and See, with the members soon making their move to the desert a permanent one, and it all started with a homage to Nevermind. For almost a decade, it was the place they’d call home before most of the band returned to England.