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Arctic Monkeys Sheffield Arena homecoming: how band’s first studio sessions changed course of musical history

It’s hard to imagine the Arctic Monkeys’ early hits without the Sheffield accent which lent them their authenticity, but things could have been very different were it not for one man.

Alan Smyth, founder of Sheffield’s seminal 2fly studio, produced the Under the Boardwalk demo which helped propel the band to fame.

Alex Turner on stage at the TRNSMT festival in Glasgow (pic: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Alex Turner on stage at the TRNSMT festival in Glasgow (pic: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

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He met Alex Turner and Matt Helders first late in 2003 when they were recording at the studio with Reverend and The Makers’ frontman John McClure’s then band Judan Suki.

“Alex popped his head through the door and said ‘I’ve got another band if you’d like to see us’, so I did,” he said.

“I saw them at The Boardwalk and there was something obviously great about them. What struck me was how they played a mixture of their own songs and covers, and you couldn’t tell the difference in quality between them.

Alan Smyth (left) in the 2fly recording studio

Alan Smyth (left) in the 2fly recording studio

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“Their songs were well-formed right from the beginning. They were witty and catchy, and the lyrics were outstanding.”

The band did seven sessions at the studio, which was located just off Bramall Lane at the time, during which they laid down around 17 tracks.

Alan recalls having to do only minor tweaking in the studio, with the band being ‘good players but not the greatest’, as you might expect from a fresh-faced group of teenagers.

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But he did have one big influence when it came to Alex’s singing style.

“I remember him singing in an American accent on one of the songs, so I asked him ‘do you want to sound American as you’re doing or do you want to be who you are?’,” he said.

“He didn’t say anything at the time but when we started recording again he went straight to his Yorkshire roots.”

Liam Gallagher has since famously pulled Alex up on the American accent he claims the singer has adopted since moving to LA.

Who knows whether the course of musical history might have run differently had Alan not had that word in Alex’s ear at the studio all those years ago?