The humble aim of most musicians is to at least make their audience want to move.
Twenty One Pilots’ unique brand of what’s been broadly dubbed “indietronica” certainly achieves this as they swing seamlessly from hip hop to indie pop and every genre in between, often within the same song, but for drummer, Josh Dun, there’s a larger goal.
“I think through music … we want to get people to think. We want to get people to go to that place in their minds that’s a little bit scary sometimes, and at least start to think about or find purpose in some way, for life.
That’s what we do every day and I think it’s cool to encourage other people to do the same.”
It’s not a surprising attitude given the introspective and thoughtful nature of frontman, Tyler Joseph’s lyrics, and a very noble aim that fits with the duo’s ‘fans first’ mentality.
“[Our show] is really inviting a group of people … to join us and kind of experience something emotionally cathartic … together and leave feeling like we were all part of an experience.
I think any band should approach [a] show as something that you want people to never forget.”
Dun and Joseph were also smart about their career’s progression. Rather than following other young bands into a debt by booking overly ambitious tours, the boys chose to start by concentrating on their home state of Ohio.
“We would pack our gear in whatever vehicle we had and take it down to the local clubs or music venues and play shows so that we didn’t have to spend money on hotels or gas, and then [we] kind of slowly branched out more as we were able to make more and more money.”
Slowly word got out of their energetic and visceral live shows, and soon they caught the eye of Warner subsidiary, Fueled By Ramen (Jimmy Eat World, Paramore), with whom the band released last year’s Vessel.
It was a totally different experience to the two basement-recorded and self-released records Twenty One Pilots had put out before their signing.
“We don’t really even look at [our first two records] as albums, the way that we approached those is, we’ve kind of always called them sort of glorified mixtapes. We just [needed] something that kind of gave people a good idea of who are and what our potential is.
[For Vessel] it was cool to feel like ‘ok, now we’re in a position where we can really tweak these things and get them exactly where we want them’, rather than trying to give people a broad overall idea of what it should sound like.”
One year after its release, Vessel is still bringing fans to shows, but the itch to get back into the studio for album two has already started.
“We’ve been working on [new songs] and getting ready to take [them] into a studio and make that come to life. As of right now it’s still in the process of writing and coming up with ideas.
We want to continue to have a little bit of people not knowing what’s going to happen from song to song, and continue to try out different genres … I think that’s part of something we’ve done since the beginning that people have been drawn to.’
The sophomore album will have to wait though, as Twenty One Pilots are currently supporting Paramore on their Australian and New Zealand tour.
“We’ve played a couple shows with [Paramore] in the past and I’m really excited because we’ve developed a really cool friendship with them, and they’re such great people, they’re a great band.
And Australia’s beautiful! This is my first time here and just this morning we were saying ‘I could stay here for a long time’. It’s a beautiful place.”