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British indie-pop Arctic Monkeys set up in LA's Hollywood Hills

From Left to Right: Jamie Cook, Alex Turner, Nick O’Malley and Matt Helders
From Left to Right: Jamie Cook, Alex Turner, Nick O’Malley and Matt Helders
Zackery Michael

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It began more than ten years ago when Alex Turner was just 17-years-old, when he and a bunch of his high school friends were playing their instruments at home. Then, they got their first gig at The Grapes, a pub in Sheffield, England.

"I could honestly say getting to the end of that first show was as far as like the ambition went at that stage," Alex Turner, the band's lead singer, says.

Acne on their faces, shy and sort of dorky-looking teens, they stepped up to play and took England by surprise. 

"I think that was the first time that I’d ever been on a stage and something did change at that time,  and it was like actually this is what I'm going to do, what I'd like to do."

And they became one of the most successful musical acts in the UK - with one of the fastest-selling albums in the country’s history. But, while there’s a decent chance that you’ve heard their name, you might not be very familiar with their work.

They exploded onto the scene here in the U.S., but after their debut, few of their songs caught on. Slowly over the past 10 years, they’ve been chipping away, building an audience - and now it’s at the point where people camp out overnight in downtown Los Angeles, just to get good spots in general admission.

Anna Marie Marin has been standing outside Staples Center since  7:30 the night before the show. "I wanted to be first,” she says.

But she wasn't the first.

“Unfortunately you take a bathroom break, you step out and people just crowd in front of the line,” she said.

Fans were lined up around the building to hear songs off the band's latest album - "AM."

With this album, the band has finally broken into the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart, and that’s why Alex Turner is sitting back stage in a closet sized room, waiting to play to 18,000 screaming fans.

He’s a bit different now than when he started down this path. The acne’s gone. The dorky look’s been replaced by slicked back hair. He’s got a leather jacket on and a cigarette in his mouth, and now he’s living in L.A.

“The first time I came here it totally freaked me out," says Turner. "I just remember getting out of the car from the airport on Sunset —right in the shit — and feeling like you're right in this movie or something and being, like, perturbed by my surroundings."

He said that moving here was a natural transition for a band too big for their home country — and that while they played all of the biggest venues there, here, they still have to compete for space.

“We were playing theaters and smaller places again and it was like that thing of having something to prove," says Turner.

The band's been recording records in L.A. for a while. But it was only after their last album, "Suck it and See," that they decided to set up shop in the Hollywood Hills.

“There's the thing, that age-old idea that you're a lot more sort of anonymous in a town like this," Turner says.

Who knows how much longer that anonymity’s going to last.

“Their audience has grown to heights that I don’t think even they expected in the U.S. with this last album," says Molly Bergen, a contributing music writer at "L.A. Weekly." "But I think that this is really their moment to shine. And playing at Staples is a really big monument to their success."

“Alex Turner’s one of the best songwriters in music," Bergen says. "He’s got that right combination of just dangerous enough for girls to turn their heads and just safe enough for their parents to let them go to his show.”

We’ll have wait and see if listeners in their adoptive country start to like them as much as they do back in Sheffield.