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Matt Helders

Posted: 3 November 2022

Founding member of Arctic Monkeys, Matt Helders, fell into playing the drums and hasn’t looked back since. Take a look into his career and how he’s become such a prolific drummer.

Read time: 4 mins


Born in Sheffield in 1986, Matt Helders and his bandmates formed the Artic Monkeys in 2002 with their mutual passion of wanting to create music. The instruments came later with Matt picking up the sticks after the band was formed.

With the fastest-selling debut album of all time in Britain, this move worked out for them,  with the band going on to  record and release seven albums, so far.

As well as touring worldwide with Arctic Monkeys, Matt has also collaborated with Iggy Pop, Josh Homme and Dean Fertita on Iggy Pop’s studio album ‘Post Pop Depression’ in 2015.

Like many other drummers, Matt regarded John Bonham as his favourite drummer of all time and studied his playing style to try to incorporate some elements into his own. But it was Buddy Rich who is responsible for convincing him that drumming was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life – Matt can even now recall the impact Buddy had on him as an impressionable young drummer and how it blew his mind when he first stumbled across footage of him performing.


Throughout his career as a drummer Matt has used a number of drum kits. Two of the most common being his Premier Series Elite drum kit in custom Union Jack finish - consisting of a 24″x 14″ bass drum, 14″x 9″ tom, 18″x 16″ floor tom, 14″x 6.5″ maple snare and a 14″x 6.5″ hammered brass Modern Classic snare.

The other being a 1971 Ludwig drum kit in black bowling ball wrap - consisting of a 22″x14″ bass drum, 13″x9″ tom, 16″x16″ floor tom, 14″x6.5″ Supraphonic LM402 snare drum.

As well as having custom wraps on his kits, Matt also occasionally adds the ‘0114’ dialing code to the front of his bass drum as an ode to the band’s hometown of Sheffield.

Matt also uses a variety of Zildjian A and K Cymbals, but he uses a relatively minimal setup. Usually a 14” Dark K Hi Hat, 20” Dark K Crash Ride and an 18” Dark K Crash cymbal.


At the time of forming Arctic Monkeys, all of the band members were rap fans and brought that influence through into their music, with Matt himself saying they enjoyed the groove and the funk elements that rap featured.

Like stumbling upon Buddy Rich, Matt can also recall seeing Queens of the Stone Age and their influence on his personal development as a drummer and can even remember thinking “I need to start hitting harder!” as soon as they finished playing.

The technique of busy bass drum patterns is something that Matt brings into most of his playing. This is brought on by his love of rap music and has become essential to the Arctic Monkeys' sound. This technique helps to add to the tension build-up when arching towards the chorus.

It can be heard in several songs, listen below to see if you can spot it in the verses.

Similar to a mini guitar riff, Matt uses hooking drum fills to help punctuate the catchiest parts of specific songs. Using this type of drumming means that not only does it add to the overall experience of the band’s music but also leads to music critics making comments such as “If you removed everything from the album except Matt Helders’ drumming, it would still be a pretty gripping listen.” (The Guardian)

Listen below to one of Matt’s most iconic drum fills.