Arctic Monkeys reveal meaning behind lyrics on The Car album

24 October 2022, 10:30 | Updated: 20 March 2023, 13:27

Arctic Monkeys: Where is Rawborough Snooker Club?

Radio X

By Radio X

Alex Turner has been telling Radio X how tales of snooker halls and The Lego Napoleon Movie have weaved their way into Monkeys folklore.

Arctic Monkeys dropped their seventh studio album The Car last week (Friday 21st October) and it's safe to say that the record has prompted passionte debate on social media.

Who is Mr Schwartz? Where exactly is the Rawborough Snooker Club?

Following the many discussions about where the album cover photo was shot, plus the make of car that's left in that lonely parking space, Radio X has asked Alex Turner about some of the inspirations behind the lyrics on The Car - and he's given us some extraordinary explanations.

Here's what Alex told John Kennedy when he took Radio X through the album Track By Track.

Listen back to Arctic Monkeys' Track By Track of The Car with John Kennedy on Global Player

Arctic Monkeys sat down with John Kennedy for a full Track by Track interview - you can listen now!
Arctic Monkeys sat down with John Kennedy for a full Track by Track interview - you can listen now! Picture: Stefano Broli

Is Rawborough Snooker Club a real place?

The song Hello You includes the line: "Why not rewind to Rawborough Snooker Club?" Where can one find such an establishment? Well, it's not a real venue... but it's not a place that Alex Turner has made up.

"It's not my fictionalisation," he explains. "There's a film, set in a place and that's the name. I guess we've taken the name of the place and put two things together. It's called Tread Softly Stranger. It's right old. It's something that none of us have watched!

"There's connection with my granddad to that film, he ended up getting some work when that film was shooting, close to where he was living. He was driving lorries. I think I've mentioned it in another song."

Tread Softly Stranger is a 1958 crime drama filmed in Rotherham and starring Britain's own blonde bombshell Diana Dors and George "Inspector Wexford" Baker.

Tread softly stranger (1958) - Johnny Mansell returns to Rawborough

Who is Mr Schwartz?

"Mr. Schwartz is staying strong for the crew, wardrobe's lint-rolling your velveteen suit."

The ninth song on the new album The Car, Mr Schwartz is nothing to do with the American poet Delmore Schwartz, who died in 1966 or the British band Brinsley Schwarz, named after their founder and lead guitarist and featuring musician and songwriter Nick Lowe.

As Alex Turner and Matt Helders explained to John Kennedy, the original sessions for the album started soon after the Tranquility Base tour had ended. When the band reconvened at La Frette studios in Paris with producer James Ford, their concept was quite different to The Car.

“There was an idea that we had when we were on tour, of this kind of record that we were trying to make," said Turner. "By the time we got to the studio, that wasn’t there anymore. We hadn’t got to the next place yet.”

He added: "There was another song we had before, in that La Frette session, which was the first time [Mr Schwartz] cropped up. This is almost a sequel."

What is dubbin?

Mr Schwartz also mentions dubbin, an old fashioned product for polishing and softening leather, which is a pretty colloquial reference, as Alex admitted: "I hope that's not too distracting. I hope it doesn't snap anyone out of the moment."

"Sonically it rolls of your tongue," added Matt Helders, helpfully.

Brinsley Schwarz in 1974 with Nick Lowe far left and Brinsley Schwartz himself third from left
Brinsley Schwarz in 1974 with Nick Lowe far left and Brinsley Schwartz himself third from left. Picture: Gijsbert Hanekroot / Alamy Stock Photo

Where did the idea for a Lego Napoleon movie come from?

The song Hello You begins with the line: "Lego Napoleon movie, written in noble gas-filled glass tubes".

"Well, there's Lego Star Wars and Lego Batman..." says Alex Turner. "I was imagining those guys taking the Napoleon script that Stanley Kubrick never made. I think it was maybe something like that - they gave it to the Lego guys."

The story relates to a project that the famous director was planning to make after the epic 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. Unfortunately, the film was cancelled and Kubrick went on to make another masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange.

While Alex Turner's mention of the makers of The Lego Movie (2014) picking up the idea is a whimsical thought, the line has more to do with The Car's musing on the actual creative process of songwriting itself. Turner thinks that he wouldn't have included such fanciful lyrics in the past.

He explains: "I suppose in the past you would have left out anything that felt like it was on the outskirts of being about the creative process... and probably wasn't welcome in the lyrics of the song. I guess there's a reference to having ideas in that moment."

Arctic Monkeys - The Car: Track By Track

Listen back to Arctic Monkeys' Track By Track of The Car with John Kennedy on Global Player

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