Ten years ago, Arctic Monkeys were enjoying instant indie stardom at the top of the UK charts, Tony Blair had just been elected prime minister for a third term – and art schoolers Matt and Kim were just getting acquainted following a "fuck-at-first-sight" encounter in New York.
“So the story goes," remembers Matt, "that [Kim] spotted me strolling across campus, turned to her friend and said: 'I'm going to fuck the brains out of that guy'. And I duly obliged."
Love - as well, of course, as a musical partnership - has bloomed since that first meeting and, five albums later, the long haul has been worth it. With their new single receiving unprecedented coverage and a support slot alongside Fall Out Boy on the pop rockers’ latest UK tour, I settle down on the blower with Matt to chat about the changing perceptions of the band, both at home and abroad, as well as the success of their latest album, ‘New Glow’.
"We're very proud of our fifth record," says Matt, sounding surprisingly chipper following a month on the road. "We've managed to reach our largest audience yet and it's definitely had the most radio plays of all our albums in the States. We took chances on this record and thankfully people have come along with us."
Watch the video for 'Hey Now' below
With the established fan base still very much on side, and greater exposure in their home country to boot, it's surprising Matt and Kim remain a relatively unknown quantity here in the UK.
Over the course of the last decade, the band’s music has featured on various adverts, television programmes and video games, with their sound evolving from hand claps and endearing DIY indie to something altogether heartier and chart-friendly.
But it's Matt and Kim’s under the radar appeal that has afforded them such creative freedom so far, enabling them to dodge the inevitable expectation of what they should sound like – and the pressure that goes along with it.
Aptly titled new album, New Glow, is a case in point - with the fresh, lyrical content and new musical direction emblematic of the music’s glowing impact on their relationship. The hip hop drum bangs louder than before, with cheeky tracks like ‘Hoodie On’, ‘Get It’ and the Super Mario-esque, ‘Make A Mess’, ensuring the record still sticks close to the band's ethos.
“We just want to make music that makes people happy,” says Matt. "I wouldn't say we've completely changed our sound on the latest record – though it has been a forward evolution and I think our fans can hear and appreciate that."
Watch the video for 'World Is Ending' below
One of the major changes fans of the band can hear on the new album will be in the references to the pair’s off-stage relationship. A decade on from that first encounter, their romance has remained very much off-limits when it comes to lyrical content.
But with latest single and lead track, ‘Hey Now’, featuring personal lyrics, “If I died I’d die right by your side", it represents something of an evolutionary marriage between the pair’s off-stage romance and on-stage creative endeavours. “It's weird because we've never written about our relationship in that way or put ourselves out there as a couple before like we have on this record,” reveals Matt.
“We spend every minute living, travelling and working together but, seriously, at the same time, the significance wasn’t there, our relationship didn’t really play into what we do. Until this album, we weren't like Sonny and Cher singing 'I Got You, Babe'. It wasn’t a subject we felt the need to write about.
“But we decided, 'Hey, fuck it, our relationship does matter', and Hey Now is a celebration of that. It's a celebration of the impact Kim had on me that first time and how I continue to be inspired by her now. Hopefully people can relate to that."
Matt admits the band find lyrics less natural to come by, and often the toughest part of the creative process. He recognises that he thinks "in beats, melody and composition" as opposed to musicians more lyrically-driven, saying, "It's the energy of the song that will dictate the lyrics more often than not."
From being brought up on the "simplified and obtainable" pop punk of Green Day in his older brother’s fledgling band, to supporting the likes of Blink-182 and My Chemical Romance since as part of Matt and Kim, a support slot alongside Fall Out Boy doesn’t seem to be an instantly recognisable home for the band’s now hip hop-infused sound.
But with such an eclectic mix of new music playing through the tour bus speakers, including the "crazy and energetic" Flosstradamus, the band’s openness to new sounds should ensure an organic evolution for at least another ten years – even if you haven't quite heard of them yet.
Matt and Kim will be playing a handful of UK dates in April of next year. See full dates below, and buy tickets here.
April 1 Glasgow, King Tuts
April 2 Dublin, Button Factory
April 4 Manchester, Academy 3
April 6 Birmingham, Academy 2
April 7 Bristol, Fleece
April 8 London, Scala
April 9 Paris, La Moroquinerie