The inspirations behind Alex Turner’s initial career wasn’t hard to pinpoint: The Strokes were the main group to emulate for a young Arctic Monkey’s frontman, so much so that the band even got a shout out in the opening line of ‘Star Treatment’. But as the group began to move away from their stripped-down indie rock origins, Turner started to get more comfortable showing the different shades of his musical intake.
Case in point: Turner’s adulation for Manchester legends The Smiths. When talking to NME about the record that changed his life, Turner described how one Smiths album, in particular, set the course for his eventual ascension to indie rock idol status.
“The guy who taught me how to drive lent me two Smiths LPs – the first record and Hatful Of Hollow. I’d been bought a Best Of on CD by an aunt before then, but I wasn’t quite ready for it. But he lent those two records to me one afternoon, and I put them on the record player in my mum and dad’s living room. It was something about the ceremony of taking it out of the sleeve, putting in on the turntable and feeling that you almost had to sit with it that got me into that band.”
Turner also shared how the love of The Smiths between his friends established language that eventually solidified the Arctic Monkeys lineup today. “I sometimes think that if it hadn’t have been for that format, in a way, it might have taken me ages to discover them. The Smiths used to write messages in the grooves [etchings]; we started doing it too because of them. We used to put our friends’ names on the middle of the early records, some of the boys from back home. I think we actually wrote Nick’s [O’Malley, bass] name on one of them, before he was in the band.”
“I was maybe 17 when I got those Smiths records. We’d started the band around then, and this driving instructor would always say, ‘You should cover this song!’ He turned us onto a lot of stuff, and I always think of him when I think of that band now. He comes to shows every now and again. I’ve still got his two Smiths records up at my mum’s. He never got them back!”
Hey, if you’re going to steal some records, you can do worse than The Smiths. Shoplifters of the world unite!