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A Quietus Interview

Arctic Monkeys' Matt Helders Interview On Boozers, Bruisers and Bullseye
Kev Kharas , September 16th, 2008 23:45

Monkey man and tub thumper Matt Helders is releasing a Late Night Tales Compilation and rumour has it he's opening a pub as well, so it seemed like the right time to have a chat with him, says Kev Kharas.

You may've read recently that Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders is opening a pub. He isn't. He's opened a clothes shop above a pub that a few of his mates bought. He is, however, just about to release a compilation in tandem with the Late Night Tales series, gathering together 20 of his favourite tracks for post-pub listening. So, with resolve revived and rather prone to idle conjecture and the head-spinning scent of stale ale, The Quietus trotted along to an Islington boozehole to prod Helders into pondering the 'what ifs' and 'maybes', in the process laying out the blueprints for one man's perfect public house.

What would you call your pub?

I've got a name for a pub actually it's a good one… I don't know if I wanna give it away. I'll just copyright it. I want to call a pub The Cautious Horse. That'd be a great name for a pub.

Because you can't lead it to water?

Exactly yeah. The Cautious Horse. I might use that for something else so be aware. But you'll know it's me. The Cautious Horse.

Where would you open it?

I don't know where as in location, but I'd want it to be underground, so it didn't look like a pub really. It'd just be a door with The Cautious Horse and you'd go downstairs… you'd probably have to know about it I'd say.

What sort of people would you like to know about it?

I don't wanna exclude anyone, so I'd just leave 'em to it and hope people would behave themselves.

So no VIP area?

No, no just anyone can come. Might have special evenings, but y'know…

What sort of special evenings?

Just like 'Make Your Own Cocktail' evening. And you can come and er – not like a workshop – just like an honesty bar with loads of things and you mix your own drinks.

Isn't there the danger of people saying, 'Oh, this cocktail has three shots of gin, two of whisky, one of vodka…'

I reckon there'll be a supervisor there. Someone to be like 'Stop that'.

How would you deal with rowdies?

Actually I don't know. 'Cause having people on the door you can't have that, 'cause it'll just look like a man stood out front in front of a door if you want the underground approach. I'd probably just have people there all the time, like me mates, so they don't look like they're gonna stop anyone from doing anything, but if it does kick off then they're there, y'know. Like undercover almost, undercover security.

Not with bomber jackets and mobile phone headsets? Just a kind of hired crew?

Just like a protection racket, yeah.

Would you pay well?

Aye, I'd be a generous employer. I'd look after 'em.

What sort of music policy would you have?

Um, well… this'll be inspired by the bar my mates are opening but I'd have a free jukebox – I'm gonna copy that, 'cause I'd've done the same – and they're having a thing wi' everyone sat down for er… like, they're having one where you can listen to a full album. So you put like cinema listenings and you have one album on at 8 o'clock and then another one at 9 o'clock, like an event that you come to. That'd be a good thing to come to.


Maybe a music quiz, one night. Y'see it's not gonna be big enough to have a band on.

It's just gonna be a kind of little hovel…

Yeah, smaller than this (gestures out toward the upstairs of The Old Queen's Head). Maybe a couple of DJs.

The Stooges - among Matt's Late Night guests

So what records would you have on the opening night?

I reckon Laurence from Domino he could DJ there. He's got loads of 7"s. He's real. Organic. He'd be a resident in fact. A weekly night.

What sort of ID policy would you have?

Yeah, see I don't know. Because obviously when I was 16 and getting turned away it was the worst thing ever, especially if your mates get in. Well again, there's not gonna be anyone on doors so once they've got in they've just got to kind of hide a bit. I'd be welcoming fake moustaches though. If that happened, I'd just be like 'Oh, I can't say no, you've made an effort'. So if someone was obviously underage but they've tried…

Would that extend to fake glasses?

Yeah, go for a disguise. That might be a requirement actually.

Did you ever try the moustache approach when you were younger?

Nah, I ever did the moustache, no. I'd just talk to the bouncer for ages and get friendly and become their friend. Then they'd let you in.

That never seemed to work very often.

It did for us at this one place, where we got to know him. And we knew stuff about him – not like…


No, but we told him we were in a band and he told us what guitar he had and stuff. So the next time we went we had all this like ammunition… 'Oh, it's you with the Fender Strat and like…' and told him everything about his own band and was like, 'Oh god, yeah in you go lads'.

I can't imagine a bouncer playing guitar. Sensitive souls.

Yeah, I know I think it was a bass actually.

Roots Manuva - eight pints of bitter

What age did you start trying to get in pubs yourself?

I remember successfully getting in on me 17th birthday, but I'd been before that so it must've been 16. This was like a club when I was at college. But there were one where you could always get in where they just didn't care and there were one that you wanted to go to, so you had to have the other one as back up. So you'd be like 'we'll try for this club and if not we'll go back to the other where we'll definitely get in, or we're all going home anyway'.

It were worse at gigs. I remember when I was 16 and we went to watch The Libertines and I didn't know it were an over 18s gig and he just went 'How old are ya?' and I went '16' and he said 'This is an over-18s gig'. I went 'Oh, shit'. (laughs) I didn't get in, but everyone else went in, apart from this one other lad.

So were you mates with Alex and that when you were…

Yeah, they all went and got in.

And they left you.

Yeah. Though I suppose technically I left them because I walked home.

A martyr.

Yeah, I was that yeah. I was a bit upset actually, but I got over it. I think I listened for a bit outside actually. (pause) Heartbreaking that, innit? (laughter)

I suppose that is yeah.

I'm getting upset about it now.

Sorry man.

It's alright.

So back to the pub, would you have some kind of dress code?

Back to the disguise thing, I'd say there would definitely be a discount for disguise – that'd be a good name an' all, wouldn't it? That'd be a good night, 'Discount for Disguise'. (blows out cheeks) All these ideas, this might actually have to happen. All these ideas yeah. I don't think there'd be a… I wouldn't want to be turning people away because of what they're wearing. It's happened to me…

Usually those bars aren't worth getting into anyway…

Yeah, exactly. But that's the thing, you don't want that to be thought of this place, 'People there never let you in'. You'll end up wi' no-one being there. I'll go bankrupt. And it'd turn into a Wetherspoons or a Costa Coffee.

That's not very good is it?

That's what I mean, before you know it… you've got to get a business plan. So no, no dress code I don't think.

How about lock ins?

Yeah, definitely yeah. It'll be easier to do 'cause it's underground n' all. Sound-proofed. So yeah, that's a cool idea.

Minnie Riperton - a perfect angel, until she's had sambuca

Bar snacks or Gastropub?

Yeah, I'm big on that. A bit of food in a pub. I'd probably have er… (long pause) Like an English equivalent of tapas. Probably with mini pork pies. A bit like a buffet actually, with vol-au-vents and stuff like that. But it'd be good quality stuff, not just farm foods or anything like that. No frozen boxes of stuff…

Would you have any bar games or anything like that?

I think like… Twister.


(laughter) Yeah, but that'd be a permanent thing painted on the floor so you didn't have to get it out every time. Spinner on't wall. Twister… dominos, keep a bit of tradition in there n'all. I'd start off with them two and see how they go on. I wouldn't have a bandit or an arcade I don't think. Maybe Deal or No Deal. A touch-screen one, I like that.

Do you play that a lot?

Yeah, I like that one. I never get on the thing though, on the winning bit. It's too fast, I can't read fast enough. I get to the end of the question and then I think about answering it and time's up. Noel's telling me I've ran out of time…


I know, do y'know what I mean? I like the darts one, the Bullseye one's alright. That's good.

So what advice would you give to someone so that they would know when they've had too much to drink?

That might be where the secret security come in. They'd just be like 'Come with me a minute' and take 'em outside and just pretend it never happened. 'Cause then they wouldn't be embarrassed and I don't want to embarrass anyone. Unless they are being an idiot. Then I'd tell everyone y'know 'Oh look at this one he's had too much'. Make them wear the disguise. And yeah, just public embarrassment really.

Shall we leave it at public embarrassment?

Yeah, that's a good point to leave it at. Some good points were raised there actually.

Matt Helder's Late Night Tales compilation is out on October 13. More details here.