We called up some experts to find out.
‘Who The F*** Are Arctic Monkeys?’ asked a 2006 EP of songs put out by Sheffield’s most famous export since the city single-handedly invented steel during the Industrial Revolution. The question is scrawled in blue crayon on a mirror for the record’s artwork, and the title song sees a pre-America, pre-Alexa Chung, pre-hair gel Alex Turner musing “in five years’ time will it be / who the fuck’s Arctic Monkeys?”
Twelve (12!!!) years later, I think it’s safe to say the answer to that particular question is: no. The previously-scruffy-but-now-greasy band are set to release their sixth studio album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino this week, and tickets for the accompanying tour this September sold out almost immediately - much to the annoyance of a load of self-righteous sentient flannel shirts on Twitter.
There is however, another, far more important question that has not been answered. A question which has not been asked enough of these powerful, rich and famous men. A question that we, at Noisey, believe you, the fans, deserve an answer to. What, exactly, is an Arctic Monkey? Are they real? Did they ever exist? Can monkeys survive in the Arctic? A quick Google search brings up this Daily Mail article about Macaque monkeys playing in the snow in Japan’s Jigokudani National Park, but that’s not really the Arctic and the Daily Mail isn’t really a credible source for information. With all this in mind, I decided to take the matter into my own hands, and in the name of music journalism, called up a few people who I hoped might be able to give me some more information.
London Zoo: Hello, can I help you?
Noisey: Hi yes – I'm calling from Noisey and I was wondering if you have any arctic monkeys?We do not, no.
What's the closest animal you have to one?
[Indistinct mumbling] We have a full itinerary of species we have at ZSL, it's called the Animal Inventory – if you go to ZSL.org, in the search bar type 'animal inventory', then you can go to the mammals section and then you can see the species of monkey that we have.
How many species of monkey do you have?
I don't know, check the animal inventory and they're all on there.
Okay. Are there any monkeys that would survive in the Arctic?
I don't know, I can't answer those questions. Sorry.
Noisey: Hi I'm calling from Noisey and I was looking to get some information about arctic monkeys.
Brockwell Vets: [long silence] about who?
Arctic monkeys....do you have any monkeys in your care?
Oh. Is it legal to own a monkey in the UK?
It's illegal, yes.
So there's no monkeys you could own as a pet.
What animals do you have?
None. We're a vets.
I thought you had a pet store attached.
It's just for food and toys.
Thank you for your time.
Pets at Home
Pets at Home: Pets at Home Old Kent Road, how can I help?
Noisey: Hi, I'm calling from Noisey and I was looking to get some information about arctic monkeys.
I was wondering if you know what an arctic monkey is?
It's a band innit, the Arctic Monkeys.
Yes but in the animal kingdom. Do you know if they exist?
I ain't got a clue.
Do you sell any monkeys?...Hello? Hello?
Professor of Zoology, Cambridge University
Noisey: Good morning, I wondered if I could speak to you for a couple of minutes about arctic monkeys.
Professor of Zoology: I know nothing about – well – we're not talking monkeys, what sort of creature is an arctic monkey?
I was hoping you could tell me. Do they exist?
I am not aware of any primates in the Arctic – apart from humans. I'm not the person who would know but it sounds to me as if that name is not based on any plausible animal, unless "Arctic monkey" is some very different sort of creature indeed. There are some small crustaceans that are colloquially known as something or other monkeys but I'm not aware of anything that would have an Arctic connection, no.
Would any monkeys survive in the Arctic?
I can't think of any monkey that gets very far out of the tropics, but I am no monkey expert at all.
Embassy of Argentina
Embassy of Argentina: Embajada de Argentina, buenos dias.
Noisey: Good morning, I'm doing some research into the existence of Arctic Monkeys. It seems that Antarctica does not have an embassy because the land is managed jointly by the signatories of the Antarctic Treaty, so I couldn’t call them, but according to Google the closest country to Antarctica is the southernmost point of South America which is shared by Argentina and Chile.
I can try to help you, go on.
Great! Are there monkeys in Argentina?
What about in like…Patagonia?
I really don't know the answers to these questions… can I give you an email address for the culture department?
That would be great, thank you. One more question: do you know what the national animal of Argentina is?
Let me think… I think it's a kind of puma but I'm not sure. I have to find out!
Thank you so much for your help.
Sorry I couldn't help much, you're welcome.
You can find Nilu on Twitter.