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SPEAK EASY Helders: `I think so far we've gone along the lines of having a lot of fun'
SPEAK EASY Helders: `I think so far we've gone along the lines of having a lot of fun'

Matt Helders, drummer of Arctic Monkeys talks about fame, celebrity and the new album

It is the nature of fame that while some naturally gravitate towards it, others seem almost to have it thrust upon them. Despite all the stories of manufactured hype surrounding the Arctic Monkeys, the four lads from Sheffield seem still rooted in the latter category. If a telephonic press conference with Matt Helders (the band's drummer) is anything to go by, the Monkeys seem not to fully believe just how much of a dent they've made on the international rock music scene. The band has certainly come a long way with their 2006 debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not becoming the fastest selling album in British music history. On the flip side, however, the band has received a lot of flak for the kind of media circus that partly helped make the fairytale ascent possible. Through it all, however, says Helders, the guiding principle for the band has been to treat both sides of that debate with something of disdain. "I think so far we've gone along the lines of having a lot of fun, and not taking everything too seriously."So it is, he explains, that with the second album (Favourite Worst Nightmare, set to release in April), a conscious attempt has been towards normalcy. "We could have easily fallen into the celebrity lifestyle. Because we've stayed away from it all, we're still writing an album about similar subjects as before."While content remains much the same on Favourite Worst Nightmare, however, the album will showcase a lot of more the band's musicianship rather than being as lyrics-driven as the first album, promises Helders. "It's just that we've gotten better at playing the instruments, we've advanced musically and I suppose we can afford to try more exciting things. I think it's more a musical focus this time.I think this time there's a lot more interesting sounds and interesting parts in the music." Starting off as an independent band, and suddenly finding themselves bang in the mainstream, the Monkeys are still trying to find that balance between mainstream appeal and the original core quality that made them underground favourites in the place. A particularly important task for the band, since it is widely acknowledged that the Monkeys' success came primarily from an incredibly vocal fan base that grew organically on the Internet. "A lot of the fans we knew when we were first starting out, we still know them. You recognise people from the early days even now when they come to the shows and I wouldn't want anyone of them to think we've turned our backs on them. But again, there's nothing you can really do to try and appeal just to them, give them special treatment or anything, at a certain point it gets out of your hands." And it is this jump from normalcy to fame and success, and the kind of changes it has brought into their lives that still strikes the Monkeys as odd, says Helders. The idea that fans might take to the guitar because of their music, still sounds strange to the foursome. "It is good when we meet people who say they started playing guitars because of us, but it is always a bit strange to have that impact on someone since they're our age or maybe even older. To think that we influenced their lives is a bit strange," he explains. "But it is an honour that they thought of us influential."

RAKESH MEHAR

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