Arctic Monkeys vocalist Alex Turner says people keep telling him that his band’s latest recording, “AM,” its fifth, just might be its fabled “California album.” While he usually quietly nods in agreement, he’s not sure he hears a West Coast sound in the flamenco-spiced “Fireside,” the vaudevillian “Snap Out of It” and the classic-Sweet-glammy “I Want It All.” Still, the working-class scrappers from Sheffield, England, not only recorded “AM” in Los Angeles, they moved there permanently to do it. And even though Turner has a slick new pompadour, a gorgeous actress girlfriend (Arielle Vandenberg) with whom he lives and a customized Yamaha motorcycle, he’s still not sure if he fits in out West.
When and why did you move to Los Angeles? A year ago last summer. Frank Lloyd Wright once said that if you tipped the world on its side, everything that’s loose would land in L.A. But it kind of came from when we made the fourth record, “Suck It and See” — we were in Sound City in Van Nuys, and we were staying in West Hollywood then. And when it came time to go, we didn’t want to leave, having been there for two months. So when it came round to making the next record, the one we’ve just done, we decided to head back to L.A. and set up camp there.
And you’d been seeing Arielle for two years. It helped to have her already there, right? Right. The boys have girls. So the rest of the band and their girls came over, too. And the decision started with us just not wanting to go after the last record. But even to go back a step further, when we came out here with Josh [Homme, from Queens of the Stone Age] the first time, we really got to know this part of the world. And that [2009 “Humbug”] session we did in the desert with him? Without doing that, I don’t think we could have made this new record four years later. That opened us up to the possibilities, just by getting so far away from where we were from.
But you’re never photographed on any Hollywood red carpet. I don’t get invited, to be honest! I just don’t think I’m on the mailing list, you know what I mean? You lived in New York first, now California. What differences do you detect? Well, the traffic’s the same as in New York. But the people are better at braking here — that’s one point I will give to California. They know how to apply the brakes better, more gently. And I like things when they’re soft.
IF YOU GO
Live 105’s Not So Silent Night
Friday, 5:30 p.m.: Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, Queens of the Stone Age, AFI, Arctic Monkeys and Capital Cities
Saturday, 6 p.m.: Arcade Fire, Phoenix, Alt-J, Lorde, Bastille and The Neighbourhood
Where: Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland
Tickets: $52.35 to $85.90