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Alex Turner talks infamous BRITs speech and his changing “performer” role

"The performer can influence the music, rather than the other way around”

By Tom Skinner

Arctic Monkeys at the Brits in 2014 (Picture: YouTube)
Arctic Monkeys at the Brits in 2014 (Picture: YouTube)

Alex Turner has spoken about his infamous BRITs speech, and how an aspect of performance art has informed past Arctic Monkeys eras.

Turner delivered a memorable acceptance speech at the BRIT Awards 2014 after the Monkeys’ acclaimed fifth album, AM (2013), was crowned Album of the Year. “That rock ‘n’roll, eh?” he began. “That rock ‘n’ roll, it just won’t go away.” To conclude, the singer told organisers to “invoice me for the microphone” before dropping it on the floor.

In 2018, Turner said in an interview with MOJO that he “didn’t really have another way around it”, adding: “What else was I supposed to do? To go up there and pretend that I’d been dreaming about that moment since I was a kid would have been dishonest.”

During a new conversation with the Guardian, the interviewer brought up the now-iconic BRITs moment, causing the frontman to “wince” in response. It was then put to Turner that the speech appeared to be some kind of “performance art” that may have “anticipated his scepticism towards the rock construct”.

“That’s interesting, yeah, yeah, yeah,” he replied. “So we’re saying it’s tied to AM, because of the haircut and … that performer …

“When you think about that, and the clothes, I wasn’t doing that with [fourth album] Suck It and See or [third] Humbug. It wasn’t grease in the hair.”

Turner is then said to have reflected on the different “performer” roles that he’s taken on for each iteration of Arctic Monkeys.

“Normally, the record you make encourages a certain style of performance,” he explained. “But thinking about the performer in relation to [2018 album] Tranquility [Base Hotel & Casino], or even this [upcoming record, The Car], I have considered that you can invert that.

“The performer can influence the music, rather than the other way around.”

Arctic Monkeys are due to release The Car on October 21 via Domino. The band have already shared two singles from the album: ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’ and ‘Body Paint’. Last night (September 29), AM performed the latter song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Next summer, Alex Turner and co. will embark on a huge stadium tour across the UK and Ireland. The dates include two homecoming concerts at Hillsborough Park in Sheffield, as well as a pair of gigs at London’s Emirates Stadium. Tickets went on sale today (September 30).

Comprising 10 songs, The Car was produced by long-time AM collaborator James Ford. The album was written by frontman Alex Turner, and recorded at Butley Priory in Suffolk, La Frette in Paris, and RAK Studios in London.