From 'Submarine' to Mongrel
When they’re not on the clock doing their day jobs, the members of Arctic Monkeys can most likely be found indulging in any one of their hobbies. Drummer Matt Helders is really into photography, while Nick O’Malley likes to put down his bass and ride motorcycles. Guitarist Jamie Cook used to turn out for his local football team, Pack Horse FC. And as for Alex Turner? Well, he’s probably following through on his grand plans to build a taqueria on the roof of the Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino by now.
The time away from their Monkeys commitments has also provided ample opportunity for some members of the band to turn their hand to one (or many) side projects. While Cook and O’Malley (post-Dodgems, anyway) have kept their music-making very much in-house, Turner and Helders (who is reportedly writing his debut solo album) have readily applied their talents elsewhere. That creative streak can also be found in one former Monkeys musician, with founding member and former bassist Andy Nicholson recently launching his latest music project GOLDTEETH and piquing the attention of those fans who fondly recall the band’s early days (more on him later).
Here’s a guide, then, to the various side projects which the members of Arctic Monkeys, past and present, have turned their hand to over the years.
The Last Shadow Puppets
We all know about The Last Shadow Puppets, don’t we? Alex and Miles first kindled their close friendship as the latter’s former bands, The Little Flames and The Rascals, frequently supported the Monkeys during their rapid ascent to indie stardom. The pair joined forces musically for the first time in 2007, recruiting regular Monkeys producer James Ford to help craft the excellent and very Scott Walker-inspired album ‘The Age of the Understatement’. The indie-baroque experiment worked so well that fans of the duo were elated when LSP returned in 2016 with the exceedingly suave ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’. Don’t rule out another record — the final part of a trilogy? — from the band emerging sometime in the future, too.
Iggy Pop’s ‘Post Pop Depression’
Who’s in it: Helders
Years active: 2016
Key release: ‘Paraguay’
Genuine living legend Iggy recruited Helders and Queens of the Stone Age‘s Josh Homme and Dean Fertita to form an almighty supergroup three years ago. Together they wrote and recorded Iggy’s acclaimed 2016 album ‘Post Pop Depression’, a stunning and often startling exploration of life, death and rock n’ roll which saw the frontman at his sneering and snarling best throughout (most so on ‘Paraguay’, where he spits: “You take your motherfucking laptop and just shove it into your goddamn foul mouth / And down your shit heel gizzard“). Helders’ powerful presence behind the kit is just one particularly brilliant aspect of this record, with the drummer slotting effortlessly into Iggy’s backing band like he’d been doing it for years.
The Submarine soundtrack
Who’s in it: Alex
Years active: 2010-11
Key release: ‘Glass In The Park’
Recorded and released as the soundtrack for The IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade’s debut feature film, Turner went solo for the first time with this very gentle and stripped-down debut EP. Clocking in at just over 18 minutes, the ‘Submarine’ EP also previewed the sickly sweet track ‘Piledriver Waltz’ ahead of its re-recorded inclusion on the Monkeys’ ‘Suck It and See’ album in 2011. You have to wonder why Alex hasn’t turned his hand to writing more movie soundtracks since…
Good Cop Bad Cop
Who’s in it: Helders
Years active: 2019
Key release: ‘Silk and Leather’
Helders recently linked up with Milburn frontman Joe Carnall to play drums, sing backing vocals and produce the debut album by the Carnall-lead Good Cop Bad Cop, whose self-titled record arrived earlier this year. “I’ve become progressively more interested in production over the years but have perhaps never been brave enough to take the first steps,” the drummer said of working on ‘Good Cop Bad Cop’, which was recorded in his home studio (dubbed ‘The Goldie Locks Zone’) in the Hollywood Hills. “Joe’s project seemed like the perfect place to start.”
Who’s in it: Alex, who served as a co-producer and co-songwriter on Savior’s 2017 debut album
Years active: 2014-17
Key release: ‘Mystery Girl’
The Portland musician first enlisted Turner to help co-write and co-produce her debut album back in 2014, a full three years before the eventual release of ‘Belladonna of Sadness’ (which James Ford also co-produced). Initially put in touch by one Miles Kane, Savior recalled to Noisey that she and the Monkeys frontman first met at a café “and chatted for a long time and had a lot in common musically. We went back to his house and listened to records. I played him some acoustic songs that I had been writing and worked on them and wrote a song that day. I went back every day until the record was done!”
Who’s in it: Ex-Monkey Andy Nicholson and Helders
Years active: 2008-09
Key release: ‘Better Than Heavy’
Nicholson formed this short-lived collective just shy of 11 years ago. The Mongrel line-up comprised of the ex-Monkeys bassist, Reverend and the Makers‘ Jon McClure and Joe Moskow, Babyshambles‘ (and Liam Gallagher’s live bassist) Drew McConnell and London rapper Lowkey, with Helders also contributing frequently across the band’s only album ‘Better Than Heavy’. Fun fact: the record was actually given away for free with copies of the Independent newspaper upon its release in February 2009.
‘Late Night Tales’
Who’s in it: Helders (and Alex, briefly)
Years active: 2008
Key release: ‘Dreamer’ (featuring Nesreen Shah)
The long-running compilation series (which has welcomed guest mixes by the likes of Jon Hopkins, Bonobo and Franz Ferdinand over the years) recruited Helders and his eclectic music taste over a decade ago for an audio instalment which was released under the full Arctic Monkeys name. Featuring tracks by such artists as Mos Def, The Stooges and Simian Mobile Disco, the mix includes a Helders-helmed cover of Livin’ Joy’s ‘Dreamer’ and concludes with Alex’s curious short story A Choice of Three, which the frontman smoothly recites himself.
Who’s in it: Andy Nicholson
Years active: 2019
Key release: ‘Doin Better’
Andy’s latest musical venture is GOLDTEETH, which debuted earlier this month (June 13). The project’s first single is the sleek and shimmering ‘Doin Better’, which features Hannah Yadi’s crystalline vocals (watch out for a nifty guitar solo towards the back of the track, too). Speaking to NME shortly after the song’s release, Nicholson – who, over the years, has also offered his services to Reverend and The Makers, Lords of Flatbush, Joe Carnall’s The Book Club, Sticky Blood and Clubs & Spades – said that he’s readying a “genre-bending” EP under the GOLDTEETH name.
Asked if he’d ever work with any of his former Monkeys bandmates again, Nicholson said he’d welcome any invitations. “Of course, if anyone was to ask. I’d love to work with anybody,” he said. “Just sharing musical ideas and getting from point A to point B is very exciting, especially when you skip to point C. I’d make music with any of them. If they rang me or texted then I definitely would.”