It was an odd move for Arctic Monkeys bandleader Alex Turner — the Sheffield native’s relocation from Britain to New York’s tony Williamsburg, where he resided for a year with then-gal pal Alexa Chung. “I actually really enjoyed my time there, and it was pretty exotic for me,” he says. While there he even wrote “Suck It and See,” the group’s fourth and most melodic album. But times change. In rapid-fire succession, he: broke up with Chung and returned to London, composed the folksy soundtrack to U.K. indie flick “Submarine,” started dating model-actress Arielle Vandenberg, cut his long hair into a pompadour, and began collecting and riding classic motorcycles. The rejuvenated Monkeys open for the Black Keys this weekend.
Starting with some early B-sides, your voice has gradually matured into a vintage crooner style now, right? Yeah. I think somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted to be a real singer, and it didn’t occur to me until after a couple of albums. It wasn’t until I did this record with my friend Miles Kane as the Last Shadow Puppets, where we got really into Scott Walker, which made me really want to sing, you know? But on some of our new B-sides, like “Evil Twin,” I think I’m less croony, and they hark back to earlier Monkeys tunes, in just the pace of words coming out of my mouth.
How did your new “teddy boy” look happen? It’s funny — we always seem to meander and wind up having an image, accidentally. But Matt (Helders, drums) got his hair shaved on the sides like Joe Strummer, then James (Cook, guitar) got this World War II fighter pilot look, so I thought, “Well, what can I do to keep up with these two guys? I’m the singer — I need to raise the bar!” So in Austin last year, I went into a barbershop and said, “I know it’s going to take more than a trim to make me look like Elvis, but do your best.”
Will the next Monkeys effort be a breakup album? I don’t know. I’m not even writing that much at all now. And I guess you just try and decide how much personal stuff you want to put in there, and what you want to leave out. But yeah, it’s definitely hard not to write about that.
After your work with Richard Ayoade on “Submarine,” have you caught the acting bug? I don’t know if I’ve got it in me, to be honest. So I’m just going to stick to doing — not what I know, necessarily — but what I’m still trying to figure out. Music.
Opening for the Black Keys
Where: Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.livenation.com