Has it really been six years since Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not was first blaring from our speakers? Judging from this interview, it seems that neither we nor the Monkeys can believe it.
For better or worse, this band hasn’t made too much of an effort to change with the times — a controversial move that, love them or hate them, makes them all the more a force to be reckoned with. Recently released single “R U Mine?” apes the spiky guitar rock of their glory days (yes, they’ve been around long enough to actually have those) while flirting with the darker, grungier elements seen in Humbug.
We at Thought Catalog sit down with drummer Matt Helders, who amusingly answers our questions from a hotel bed. While boring the hell out of him, we find that Helders and his band are as wonderfully uncompromising as they were when they first stormed into the alternative music scene (and our lives).
Thought Catalog: How’s California?
Matt Helders: Pretty good. Can’t complain.
TC: What’s it like to be touring with The Black Keys? You remixed “Thickfreakness” a couple of years back on one of your solo records, but now you’re touring with them.
MH: Yeah, I’m excited about that.
TC: Have you had a chance to hang out with Patrick and Dan yet?
MH: Briefly. We saw them in Nashville when we played there last year. I met them briefly a couple of times. But I haven’t spent much time with them. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been a big fan of The Black Keys for years.
TC: Were you nervous meeting them?
MH: No. Not really.
TC: Are you by yourself today?
MH: I am. I’m at a hotel.
TC: What state are you in?
MH: California. Did you mean a mental state?
TC: That works, too. What mental state are you in?
MH: I’m in a good state.
TC: Empire state of mind, then.
MH: [Laughs] Yeah.
TC: So you guys have new haircuts?
MH: I suppose so.
TC: Reinventing your image for the 10-year-anniversary?
MH: It wasn’t really a conscious decision for us all to do it together. But I like it. Makes sense.
TC: I like it too. Looks good.
TC: I just got done watching ‘R U Mine?’ So you were the designated driver?
MH: Yeah. I was. Just what you need in a video like that. A safe driver. Well… I wont’ say ‘safe,’ but you know.
TC: Have you seen the movie Drive?
MH: Yeah. That’s what I felt like.
TC: Did you imagine that you were Ryan Gosling as you drove the car?
MH: Whenever I drive, since seeing that film, I pretend I’m Ryan Gosling. I drive and I look around, mysteriously.
TC: Do you still talk to P. Diddy?
MH: Yeah, I do text him. The other day, actually. The film he produced won an Oscar. So I spoke to him briefly. I haven’t seen him for about a year, but I stay in touch.
TC: What did he say?
MH: We were talking about where we might be playing. I said, ‘Madison Square Garden.’ We might be playing there. You never know.
TC: Do you ever play pranks on people?
MH: Well, maybe I should. Let me think… nothing big. What kind of pranks are you talking about?
TC: I don’t know. Say, on interviewers asking musicians boring questions?
MH: That was a prank. [Laughs]
TC: Good one. So what do you do for fun? Besides riding your motorbike?
MH: I used to be into boxing until I broke my arm.
TC: This happened recently?
TC: That’s a shame.
TC: Changing subjects… I couldn’t help but notice that nearly every Latino youth I meet is an enormous Arctic Monkeys fan.
MH: [Laughs] Yeah, there’s a big Latino fanbase.
TC: What do you think happened there?
MH: No idea. I don’t know what it is that clicked with them. It’s a good observation you made there.
TC: You just turned 26. What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t with the band?
MH: I suppose it would be something creative. I would want something where I could wake up anytime.
TC: It’s afternoon over here in Chicago. What time did you wake up today?
MH: Um… [Laughs]
TC: Are you still in bed?
MH: Yeah. Haven’t had breakfast yet. Still in bed.