When the Arctic Monkeys transcended form the snotty Sheffield quartet of indie dreams to become national treasures, they did so with an album that perfectly encapsulated that most British of things — a drunken Friday night in the centre of town. Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not changed the face of British culture overnight.
For those of us afflicted with small-town upbringings, their arrival wasn’t only a stark reminder of the bullshit that britpop had become but also that, despite living within the confines of small-town ignorance, there was still a band who could lift you out of the mire and transport. Even if it was to another smallish town.
Most of what made the band such a searing contrast to everything else around them was Alex Truner’s witty lyricism. The indie bands of the day were more than equipped with their poetic lyrics but there was an authenticity about Turner that commanded attention. Still, even that’s not enough to sustain a career like the Arctic Monkeys have had. They needed something else to build on. That something was drummer Matt Helders.
Helders is the unsung hero of the band. Though, perhaps rightly, the majority of the credit for the band’s sound lands at the feet of Turner, Helders contribution to the band’s unique sound — especially in their sala days — cannot be denied. If you needed proof of Helders’ phenomenal impact on their debut record then you need only look at the LP’s opener ‘The View From The Afternoon.’
Matt Helders announces one of the most beloved records of recent times with a now-notorious drum fill. Buoyed by the song’s video, which saw the band take a cinematic spin around Helders’ patterns, this became the only song to air-drum to. A powerful indication of what was to come, it showed that Helders was equipped more than most when it came to implementing a searing sound. There’s no better way to enjoy that sound than by isolated Helders’ drum track and pressing play.
Within the isolated drum track, we get an up-close and personal look at the drummer’s style and, perhaps most notably, how he underpinned everything that made the Arctic Monkeys such a huge success. Turner’s lyrics may have taken the plaudits but without Helders’ foundational heavy-hitting drum style, they would never have been able to fire out as rapidly as they did.
From the very first notes, we are left in no doubt who the star of the show is on this track. Helders sets out his stall early on and never relents, allowing the song’s narrative to peak and fall around his fills. It’s certainly one of the greatest drum performances in modern rock and arguably one of Helders’ finest moments in the studio. However, for this isolated track, we’re looking back at a blistering live performance.