They are from Sheffield, UK, in northern England. They built a following through online file sharing and distribution of their demo tapes. This led to record company interest, but the band resisted singing a contract. Finally, in 2005 they signed to the independent label Domino Records and released their first single, "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Alex Turner told The BBC about the founding of the group: "It was 2002, we all got guitars for Christmas and started playing in my garage that summer, rehearsed there and in a warehouse for a bit for about a year."
Their first album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not became the fastest selling debut album ever in the UK when it was released in 2006. About a month later, it was released in the US and opened at #24 on the album chart, one of the best debuts ever by a band on an independent record label. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
In September of 2006, Arctic Monkeys made the Guiness Book of World records. They were given the award for Fastest Selling UK Debut Album for Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. They beat out Definitely, Maybe by Oasis selling 363,735 copies in its first week and 113,000 on its first day.
Arctic Monkeys was the first band in the history of the awards to win ShockWaves NME Award for both categories, Best New Band and Best British Band at the same night in 2006.
All four members of the band were devoted fans of Hip-Hop when then were younger. For some members, like Alex Turner and Matt Heders, things changed when they heard certain bands. For Alex, it was The Strokes and The Libertines and for Matt, it was seeing Queens of the Stone Age at a local music festival.
In the early days of the band, they refused to sign a record contract with any label. Labels and scouts wanted the band to change their songs, but the band refused. The went so far as to refuse scouts guaranteed entry into their gigs. When they finally signed with Domino because of the "do it yourself" attitude of founder, Lawrence Bell, who ran the label from his own house.
Speaking about the origins of the band, vocalist Alex Turner said, "It was 2002, we all got guitars for Christmas and started playing in my garage that summer, rehearsed there and in a warehouse for a bit for about a year."
The band was criticized by the head of the National Health Service in Scotland because the cover of their first album depicted Chris McClure, a friend of the band, smoking a cigarette. The actual picture on the CD was of an ashtray, as well. The Scottish NHS saw this as "reinforcing the idea that smoking is OK."
All four band members grew up together in High Green, a northern suburb of Sheffield. They've known each other since they were all seven years old.