• Fri. Dec 9th, 2022


Music is life

Why does Matt Helders have ‘0114’ on his drum kit?


Nov 25, 2022

If you’ve had the pleasure of witnessing Arctic Monkeys perform live, or perhaps you’ve watched recordings of their sets online, you might have noticed that Matt Helders’ drumkit is frequently adorned with black tape reading ‘0114’. 

The band, which formed in 2002, frequently honour their hometown within their music, and Helders’ use of ‘0114’ is another example of this. The numbers represent Sheffield’s dialling code, a city where the four members of Arctic Monkeys grew up and began making music. More specifically, the band – comprised of frontman Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O’Malley and Helders – grew up in the northern suburb of High Green. 

The band’s first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, became the fastest-selling debut record in UK chart history. It had a quintessentially British sound, frequently discussing youth culture and nightlife, referencing locations such as High Green, Hunter’s Bar and Rotherham (“You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham”). The album encapsulated the sound of bored British teenagers preoccupied with drinking, clubbing and romance, driven by post-punk, garage rock and indie influences. 

Since then, they have occasionally referenced Sheffield within their music, such as in 2011’s ‘All My Own Stunts’, which ends with Helders screeching, “I’m from High Green, I’m from High Green!” However, since the band has gained more recognition worldwide, they have steered away from referencing Sheffield-specific locations within their new music. Instead, during the AM tour, Helders paid tribute to their roots by adorning his drumkit with ‘0114’. 

Yet that’s not all Helders has written on his instrument. Previously, he has chosen the phrases ‘Agile Beast’, ‘The Funk Might Fracture Your Nose’, ‘Missing’ and simply ‘Arctic Monkeys’. The hand-assembled DIY look of Helder’s phrases harks back to the band’s early days when they were just teenagers. The band played their first gig on June 13th, 2003, at The Grapes Pub in Sheffield, which Turner stated was “just to get to the end of the night and pull the bird that I fancied that I’d got to come down.” 

Arctic Monkeys have come a long way since then, now boasting seven studio albums, a handful of EPs and two live albums. The band will embark on a massive tour next year, including three nights at London’s Emirates Stadium, which have all sold out. Yet when the band formed, Helders only took on the role of drummer because “that was the only thing left. When we started the band, none of us played anything. We just put it together. They all had guitars, and I bought a drum kit after a bit.”

Since the band’s formation, Helders has had a successful career as a drummer, both with and without his bandmates, recording drums for Iggy Pop’s album Post Pop Depression and Lady Gaga’s Joanne in 2016. 

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