Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders and Richard Hawley deliver Sheffield talk

Pair talk Monkeys demos, ice cream and adverts

Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders and Richard Hawley took part in a panel discussion about their home city Sheffield at Sheffield Hallam University last night (March 2).

The topics of discussion included the city’s bid to be 2013 Capital Of Culture, music licensing and Arctic Monkeys‘ early forays into the online music world.

Hawley was on typically charismatic form, regaling the near-capacity crowd with a number of anecdotes and delivering forthright views about his city of birth and musical career.

Asked about Sheffield‘s bid to be 2013’s Capital of Culture, Hawley declared: “Personally, I don’t think it’d do us any good. We just get on with doing what we do. No need for accolades, thank you very much.”

During the interval the advert for Häagen-Dazs ice cream, featuring Hawley‘s song ‘Open Up Your Door’, was shown to the audience. When proceedings resumed the singer spoke of his decision to license his music to the company.

“I’ve been asked loads over the years [for his music to be used on adverts],” he said, “but I have issues with the whole corporate thing. But when I found out I’d get two years worth of free ice cream, our lass said, ‘You’re doing it!’. I stopped it after a year, though, as I didn’t want her to have to be airlifted out of the house!”

He joked that, due to the length of the material on recent album ‘Truelove’s Gutter’, the advert was also a good way for him to get his new songs heard.

Häagen-Dazs is the only fucking thing I could get played on!” he said. “The radio, these days, is being used against us – it’s music to wash the cars to. No spiritual depth. It’s creative fascism, the kids these days are being told they should only write songs that are two-and-a-half minutes. I’m from the John Peel generation, so my response was to say ‘Fuck off’ and think, ‘I’ll make a single that’s ten minutes long’.”

Helders, wearing a smart suit and still sporting a mop of curly hair, remained relatively quiet throughout, though recalled how his band had had no role in getting his band’s original demos – recorded at 2Fly Studios in Sheffield – online back in 2003.

“We didn’t even know how to do it, it was a friend of ours [who put their songs online],” he explained. “It was only when we started seeing people in the crowd that we didn’t recognise that we started thinking, ‘That internet’s a good tool!'”

The talk’s other panelists included artist Pete McKee, broadcaster/playwright Rony Robinson and songwriter/producer Elliott Kennedy – who explained that Bryan Adams, Celine Dion and The Spice Girls have all visited his Sheffield studio over the years.

Money raised from entry fees to the talk (over £3,000) will be used to help preserve the Minerva Frieze – a Godfrey Sykes art piece made in 1984 which is currently on display at the university.