Matt Helders reflects on buying his first drum kit and first gig with Arctic Monkeys

"If I wanted to be in the band it was drums only."

Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders has opened up on buying his first drum kit and playing his first ever show with the iconic group.

The 32-year-old explained how he first bought the kit in the summer of 2002, after receiving £1000 from a children’s bond that his grandparents had established for him.

“It was that summer that I started playing drums. I’d never played until then”, the Sheffield native told Loud and Quiet.


“I had some money that my grandparents had given me when I was born – a thousand pound from a children’s bond – so I went to the Cayman Islands for four weeks, because my brother lived there, and then bought a drum kit when I got back, which was all my money gone. Turns out it was a good investment.”

After purchasing the kit, he kept it in Alex Turner’s garage. It also proved to be his entry point into the band – who were already sorted for guitars.

Arctic Monkeys' drummer Matt Helders
Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders

“It was the only choice because the others had already got their guitars”, he explained. “If I wanted to be in the band it was drums only. So I used to keep them in Alex’s garage, and we practiced there. It meant that I could only practice whenever we all practiced. It was a slow start. I just didn’t want to be left out.”

The band’s first gig eventually came in June 2003 at The Grapes, a pub in Sheffield.


“We had four of our own songs and four covers, and we just went on and nothing went that wrong”, Helders explained.

“The covers were ‘Harmonic Generator’ by The Datsuns, ‘Hotel Yorba’ by the White Stripes, an acoustic version of ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, and ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones.”

The rest was history – with Helders holding the Arctic Monkeys’ beat to this day.

On Sunday, the group kicked off a mini-residency at London’s The O2 – which saw Miles Kane arriving on stage for a rendition of ‘505’.

The band’s remaining UK and Ireland tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and information.

The O2 Arena, London (September 12/13)
Birmingham Arena (September 15/16)
FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield (September 18/19/21)
3Arena, Dublin (September 24/25)
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle (September 27/28)

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