May 13, 2020 by Harriet Kaplan

The place, Columbus, Ohio, the year 2020… the band… Twenty One Pilots. So far the calendar is a reminder that this has already been a moment in time that we will never forget. Luckily there’s a band that’s standing out. They just might be the new Kings of cool! They’re best known for their mix of electronica, emo, hip-hop and balladry. Mix that all up with a distinctive stage show and a signature sound… BOOM! Legends have blown up right before our eyes.

As for this band, in addition to the critical acclaim they’ve rightfully received, they’ve developed a loyal, rabid and passionate fan-base. Their fans are known for their fervent stage diving at their intense, energetic shows that somehow incorporate elements of kabuki and themes of bondage | S&M. The duo features a dynamic front-man in Tyler Joseph and uber-cool drummer in Joseph Dun.

Ask any music critic this… when you have a band that incorporates various genre’s into their music, they become very difficult to categorize. If you get it wrong, trust me, the fan-controlled music police will let you know. Twenty One Pilots takes the signature sound one step further. They blend angst-ridden lyrics targeted at young people searching for answers, meaning community or solace. What’s been described as Macklemore-accented rhythms, piano-pop similar to Ben Folds, reggae stylings that channel the sound of 311 and a hard-rock vibe; you get an electrifying sonic journey. The band has literally brought in fans from all genres, age group and socio-economic backgrounds and races. It’s 2020, we have to mention the races.
Bottom line, artists like Johnny Cash and David Bowie; bands like The Clash, Sex Pistols and The Specials have been known and praised for speaking their mind. Needless to say, Twenty One Pilots has earned the respect of their fans and critics for doing just that. Then again, anyone can do that. What makes them special is they do this while putting out kick-ass music. That’s what sets them apart from the pack.


I begin to assemble what weapons I can find. Cause sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill your mind.” 
So what’s the skinny on the duo’s onstage persona? Ask anyone who attends their shows… it’s a very simple formula. Joseph is a versatile musician onstage playing bass, piano, and ukulele. While Dun is like the Energizer Bunny playing drums with accompanying pre-recorded backing tracks, the combination is mesmerizing
The other question people often ask is what’s the deal with the name?It’s a good question, and it’s a story within itself. The short of it is Twenty One Pilots was derived from the 1947 Arthur Miller play “All My Sons.” In that story a World War II airplane-parts supplier learns his products are faulty and sends them out anyway, leading to the deaths of 21 pilots. Joseph has said in other interviews the story’s themes of moral dilemma, between choosing the easy and the right decision resonated with him and inspired the band name.
Joseph discovered a lesson in reading the story. Every decision made will have great or dire consequences and within the context of band and how it would apply taking the longer and hard route and keeping at it dong whatever is necessary to make it happen. Obviously the long range/game approach has paid through lineup changes and styles  when the band begun in 2009.

The band grew in strength developing a sizable grassroots following across Ohio and the Midwest. The constant touring propelled them even further by smart use of interactive social media.

Here’s a Good Look at their website

In addition to their smart and unique use of social media, their brand of music videos launched them into another dimension. A lietral dimension of sight, sound and mind. Rod Serling would have been proud. Their videos broadened their audience increasing their brand visibility and caught the attention of major labels.
In 2012, the band signed to Atlantic subsidiary Fueled by Ramen. In 2012, they went on a short tour with Neon Trees and Walk The Moon. They released the Three Songs EP and their debut album, Vessel was released in January 2013. That release featured platinum singles “Holding On to You,” “House Of Gold,” and “Car Radio.” They continued to tour, now with the likes of Fall Out Boy as an opening act in their Save Rock and Roll Arena Tour, along with Panic at The Disco. 

As the music Fates would have it, the proverbial torch of coolness was lit. The band went on a run that gave them the Midas touch, although for TOP… everything was not gold, it looked more like platinum.
In 2014, TOP played a number of music festivals and other other events around the U.S., such as Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Boston Calling and Firefly. The band’s first headlining tour, the Quiet Is Violent World Tour, which starred in September and ended in November. Their mainstream breakthrough occurred with their chart-topping fourth album, 2015’s Blurryface.

The Burryface tour spanned the U.S., Australia, Asia, and Europe. The LP was certified multi-platinum and became one of the year’s best-selling albums in the world. “Stressed Out” was the GRAMMY-winning single and it’s follow-up hit song “Ride” quickly became a fan favorite, and the radio play it got was insane. 

“Stressed Out” reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 2016, with “Ride” following at number five that summer. The guys embarked on a second tour for the Blurryface album, The Emotional Roadshow World Tour, coveting the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia.

That same year, “Heathens,” their GRAMMY-nominated song appeared on the  soundtrack for the DC Comics film, SUICIDE SQUAD. “Heathens” played over the closing credits of the movie. It was third alternative rock song that topped charts for the duo. The very popular single went to number two on the Hot 100 making Twenty One Pilots only the third rock band to have two concurrent Top Ten singles.
At the end of the 2016, the duo collaborated with tour-mates MUTEMATH for the TOPxMM EP, which featured what’s been described as  re-imaginings of “Heathens” and four Blurryface tracks. After their last show in 2016, Twenty One Pilots after their last show they would be “going dark” to focus in new music.

Joesph said the intent was to “focus on lyrical content of the music, and bring back to “authenticity, lyrics, delivery, and fearlessness of songwriting” similar to that of the self-titled album. In the spring of 2018, their song “Hometown,” received a Gold certification from RIAA, making Blurryface the first full-length album to have every track achieve at least gold status.

TOP also released its fifth studio album in the fall of 2018, Trench. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts. All 14 tracks from the album charted in the Top 25 of the Hot Rock Songs chart, where five tracks were in the top 10… simple unreal numbers by any measurement.

In the fall of 2018, TOP played their first live show in a year, “ Complete Diversion in Braxton’s O2 Academy in London. Trench was viewed by critics as advancing the narrative of Blurryface continuing the struggle with personal demons, battling fresh enemies that came about from their newfound fame and fortune. This effort is less carefree or pop friendly. Instead it’s dark and intense, a gift to fans per say which offers up a theory-packed, multi-media puzzle occupied by symbolic entities from the Blurryface album.

Trench may take a few listens to really get and register but it delivers on the depth and weight Blurryface is considered to have hinted at: “Levitate,” Neon Gravestones,” Bandito,” and “Leave The City.” In the fall of 2018, TOP played its first live show in over a year, titled A Complete Diversion, at Brixton’s O2 Academy in London. Toward the fall, the band embarked on the worldwide Bandito tour covering the U.S., Oceania and Europe. This tour was notable for leaping, back-flipping, vertical crowd-surfacing, suspended bridge walking and scaffolding. In the Summer of 2019, TOP headlined a number of music festivals.
This past spring, the duo released a new single, “Level of Concern.” The lyrics in the song refer to anxiety created by the COVID-19.

The accompanying video was filmed in Joseph and Dun’s homes due to the lockdown due to the U.S. State and local government response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Joseph directed a portion of the song’s proceeds to Crew Nation, a charity for live music crews who cannot be paid during the international quarantine.
The single is considered as a “testament to Joseph and Dun’s ability to write, record, produce, mix and master a song and shoot the video within a matter of a few days.” The project got the duo to work again and strategize. The duo’s single hit number one on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart so this also helped create momentum to start working on the often talked about new album they planned on working on.

TOP are writing this record now but have no set release date as of yet, but are committed as much to having it drop sooner than later. Joseph was recently interviewed saying he appreciated fans getting on their computers and playing acoustic bedroom versions of Trench and or past TOP material to him. But, it’s clear Joesph has moved on. He said he’s working on a new idea and excited about that. He went on to say that TOP wants to talk to their listeners through a new record.
This should be exciting news for Twenty One Pilots fans. It may sound shrouded in mystery, but that makes it even more intriguing. It makes you only guess in anticipation on what the guys are going to do next. 


Peace will win and fear will lose