This is an interview I did with Matt Helders, the drummer from the Arctic Monkeys, on November 10th, 2005.
- Do you like to dance? I noticed that many of your songs have the word “dance” in their lyrics.
Matt Helders: I’m not the best dancer in the world but it’s always fun… it’s always good to dance when you are drunk.
- Would you like to be considered a “dance band”?
M.H.: I don’t think we are strictly a dance band, but we definitely got dance elements… I suppose that’s what makes the big difference.
- I heard a live version from “Curtains Close” which ends with “The Rockafeller Skank”. Is it how it’s going to be on the album?
M.H.: No, we dropped that one… we only played it in about two gigs… I think the recording is from our first gig ever. We were playing it and Jamie’s (Cook, guitar) sister thought it sounded a bit like The Rockafeller Skank so we decided to end it this way.
- I found it interesting because we usually have people like Fatboy Slim and various deejays sampling from bands and this time it was the other way around.
M.H.: Yeah, it’s an interesting observation. I don’t know if we’re going to do more of this, but it’s obviously an interesting idea…
- You chose something that doesn’t exist as a name. How do you feel about it now?
M.H.: Band names are obviously important, but I don’t think they matter as much as people think… After a while you stop thinking of their meaning… When you see a poster advertising the Arctic Monkeys, you say, “ah, let’s go ’cause they have a good gig”… You know, nobody thinks about the meaning of the name Beatles now…
- Funny that you mention the Beatles… You are going to play your first German gig tonight and they were about your age when they were playing in Hamburg.
M.H.: Yeah, we are very excited about tonight!
- What was your goal when you were forming the band?
M.H.: Just to do a gig! We practiced for about a year ’cause we wanted to be good before we appear in front of an audience.
- How long have you known each other?
M.H.: We grew up together but we started playing in 2002.
- Your influences? Would you like to mention a couple of names?
M.H.: Well, for me as a drummer I’d say John Bonham from Led Zeppelin and from the modern day people, Chris Dangerous from the Hives.
- I noticed some references in your lyrics such as the Police song “Roxanne”, the film “Karate Kid”, in your single you mention very accurately the way people danced in 1984, a year in which you weren’t even born I suppose…
M.H.: Yes, that’s right… we watch t.v., movies from that time… Having older friends helps, as well.
- Do your parents have a large record collection?
M.H.: No, not particularly. Alex’s (Turner, voice and guitar) father is a big jazz fan, though.
- I assume you follow what’s been happening in France during the last days. Do young people in Sheffield have similar problems?
M.H.: I don’t think so… Sheffield is a very small place, nothing like Paris… We have problems with girls and things like that. Personally, my life has been very easy so far.
- There are a couple of famous musicians who come from Sheffield: Joe Cocker, Human League…
M.H.: Jarvis Cocker as well!
- So “Cocker” seems to be a popular name there! Are you planning on being bigger than all of them?
M.H.: (laughs) No, no competition really. There are many more bands that started before we did, we used to open for them but they didn’t become famous…
- But you’ve been to number one now. How much did your life change since then?
M.H.: Not a lot, surprisingly! Everybody thinks that we are rich but, no… The day we went to No. 1 was a bit special, maybe the day after as well, but we still see the same people as if we had only gone to No. 10!
- I saw in your schedule that you are going to be playing in Japan in a couple of days. Are you planning on conquering the world?
M.H.: I’m more interested in making an album that you can put on ten years later and still like it, like the two first albums from Oasis were for me.