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Matt Helders' 7 favourite drummers of all time


Matt Helders is the beating heart of the Arctic Monkeys and one of the truly great modern drummers. Set on the trajectory towards becoming drumming royalty, the Sheffield native has been relentless battering his kit since the band broke through in 2005.

Drummers are often the most underappreciated member of a band, and even Helders’ crucial role in Arctic Monkeys is often criminally overlooked. While the drummers he cited as his favourites over the years include legends of the instrument, Helders also has found time to celebrate those he doesn’t believe get the fair amount of recognition they deserve.

In 2013, he spoke to Music Radar about his favoured drumming albums and detailed what he looks for in a percussionist. “For me, it’s not all about the flashy stuff and hearing some guy show off his chops. I’d rather listen to a drummer who knows how to play to the song,” Helders explained.

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He added: “At first, I was really impressed with drummers doing thousands of fills and all the crazy technical stuff. But as I learned how to play, I began to realize that there’s more to drumming than just being the centre of attention and going off; you have to be musical, as well.”

For him, the late John Bonham of Led Zeppelin fame is the greatest of all time, which the drumming world is largely in agreement on. “I’d have to say that John Bonham is my favourite drummer of all time,” the Arctic Monkeys drummer commented.

Speaking about Led Zeppelin II specifically, Helders added: “He’s somebody that I always come back to. The reason why I picked this record purely comes down to a fill he does at the end of the ‘Moby Dick’ solo — before the band comes back in. It gives me chills, and that’s no exaggeration. I can hardly even express what it does to me. It’s perfect, absolutely perfect.”

Helders is in awe of drumming techniques exhibited in hip-hop, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he played on a P Diddy record in the past. “Questlove has always been a favourite of mine,” he noted in the same interview. “I’ve revisited this record a lot of times. At first, I was a bit curious and surprised that he would want to sound so mechanical, like a human drum machine or something, but then I was really impressed that he could actually do such a thing.”

Back into rock and roll territory, Helders is an avid fan of Dave Grohl’s drumming with Nirvana album Nevermind and Queens of the Stone Age record Songs For The Deaf, both making his list of favourite drumming albums. Talking about the latter, Helders said: “It’s hard to beat Dave Grohl, isn’t it? He played on this record, and as usual, he’s just incredible. The relationship that he has with Josh (Homme) is pretty important – they’ve done a lot of things together and know how to play off each other well. I mean, I know a lot of it is Josh – from working with him myself, I know that it’s his ideas – but Dave interprets the stuff and does his thing.”

A more unfamiliar name which makes his list is Chris Dangerous from The Hives, who Helders credits with “why my drum kit is set up the way it is.” He added: “It’s weird to look up to a modern drummer like that, but I was really young and he impressed me – I wanted my drums to look like his.”

See the full list of Helders’ favourite drummers below.

Matt Helders’ favourite drummers

  • John Bonham
  • Questlove
  • Mitch Mitchell
  • Dave Grohl
  • Chris Dangerous
  • Carmine Appice
  • Bill Ward

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