Booze, booty calls and sleazy hallucinations: it’s all in a night out for Alex Turner, who swaps his recent LA living for a drunken stumble through the streets of East London in the video to ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High,’ the third single from Arctic Monkeys’ upcoming ‘AM’ LP. But what are the hideouts he visits? Who’s the Stephanie he spends the video pursuing? And is the state of music sales really that dire that Turner can’t afford a smartphone instead of a vintage Nokia? Here’s five things we learned from the new video.
Alex Turner is bringing sexy back
As if its sex-dripped rhythms and lusty lyrics (“Now it’s three in the morning and I’m trying to change your mind…”) weren’t seductive enough, new single ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ comes backed by a clip packed with more nudity and debauchery than a weekend at R. Kelly’s crib. Turner’s evolution into a slick haired, James Dean style pin-up continues. “I had no idea the shoot was going to be so explicit,” model Lamie Stewart, who plays Stephanie, tells NME. “I missed an email, so when I turned up I was like… riiiight! The scene where I have sex with the man in the kebab shop was quite hilarious, especially: the kebab guy was actually the sweetest thing. He was more nervous than I was! I’ve been a fan of the band for a very long time, since 6th form, so was very happy when I won the role to be in the video, despite being passed around via Alex’s drunken mind state!”
The clip is directed by Chicago-born photographer Nabil Elderkin. In last month’s NME cover feature, the band revealed their new record to have been influenced by Dr. Dre. Elderkin pushes the rap connection on ‘AM’ further: he’s a close friend of Kanye West, having bought the domain “kanyewest.com” after hearing a mixtape from the then-unknown rapper. Months later, Jay Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, having just signed West on a multi-album deal, contacted Elderkin to ask how much he’d sell the domain for. When Elderkin agreed to transfer the domain name for free provided he could meet West and photograph him, these images went on to be the artist’s first publicity photos. Fingers crossed he can arrange a guest spot for the rapper on the next album…
It’s full of references
The melting clock is a nod to surrealist Salvador Dali’s famous painting ‘The Persistence of Memory’. The motorbikes that pass during one sequence, meanwhile, are said to be a reference to the band’s ‘Evil Twin’ promo. Eagle-eyed viewers will notice it’s packed with the band’s trademark dry, disparaging humour, too – when Stephanie picks up her phone at the end of the clip, she’s saved Turner’s name as ‘Alex band guy’.
It’s a homecoming of sorts
After two years exiled in Los Angeles, with Turner dating model/actress girlfriend Arielle Vandenberg, and having recorded their previous two albums in California, this is a return to their British roots. The video was recorded the Monday after the band’s Glastonbury headline performancee and, according to Stewart, Turner spent time between takes watching Turkish music videos with the crew and extras, “So rock ‘n’ roll!”
The pub Turner begins his descent into debauchery is Howl At The Moon in Hoxton, spilling out onto Hoxton Street as he makes his way towards the home of ‘Stephanie’. In the video the Monkeys are seen ordering a round in at 3.30am, perhaps a nod to the hangout’s former marathon opening hours over weekends. These days, it closes at 1am on weekends. Also, instead of mind-altering hallucogenics, it’s really more light snacks and import lagers they serve. “It all takes place on one street, apart from my flat, which was a five minute cab drive away,” says Stewart. Now all you need is the Google Maps location, a bottle of Tesco vodka, and you can recreate the video yourself.