Whether you’ve been a fan since their self-titled debut in 2009 or you know them as those guys who sing that song from Suicide Squad, you’ve probably heard of twenty one pilots.
In a world ruled by perfectly-preened pop, the Columbus, Ohio duo’s improbable success is often attributed to their hard-to-pigeon-hole sound. Made up of frontman Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun, twenty one pilots mixes angsty lyrics, rap-rock rhymes, synth pop and reggae-style rhythm to produce something even iTunes would be hard pressed to define. As well as the miscellaneous mix of musical styles, it’s the soul-bearing lyrics of personal turmoils and deep-rooted insecurities that make Twenty One Pilots fascinating, yet relatable.
With a self-titled debut and two studio albums under their belt, the boys have spent the last few years touring the world and building up quite the fanbase. And now, they’re making their way down under for five shows for their EMØTIØNAL RØADSHØW World Tour, starting in Brisbane tonight. In case anyone still buys CDs, they’ve also released a double edition of Blurryface and Vessel just for their Aussie and New Zealand fans while they’re on this side of the hemisphere.
We spoke to Dun about the Australian tour, plans for the new album and what gets him up and fighting every day.
Gallery: Twenty One Pilots @ The Roundhouse UNSW, 2016 / Photos: Annette Geneva
Music Feeds: You guys are touring Australia and New Zealand this month and have released a double edition of Blurryface and Vessel. In the world of online streaming, what inspired you to do this with your two studio albums?
Josh Dun: Yeah, that’s a great question. I personally still see the value in physical copies of albums and I also feel very proud of both pieces of work. So, I guess that’s sort of the extent of it. I see a lot of fans are still looking into our older stuff and it always really excites me to see people investing in an older album like Vessel because we’re still proud of it.
MF: It’s been a while since twenty one pilots toured down under, so what are you most looking forward to about coming back?
JD: What I’ll say is that Tyler and I are from Columbus, Ohio and there’s really no place that Tyler prefers to be other than Columbus, but the one place I’ve ever heard him say he would move to is Australia. I knew that was a big deal for him to say something like that and, honestly, I feel the same. There’s something really special about your country and even today, I’m sitting here in the States and I just can’t wait to be there.
It’s a beautiful country and what’s cool for us too is that everything is so spread out. So a lot of times in the States and also places like Europe, we’ll cram in a bunch of shows and every day is a show. So, we have a little less time to soak in what that environment has to offer. But in Australia, we get a little bit of extra time to enjoy it rather than knock out show after show.
MF: And what about the tour, is there anything new in the shows that Aussie fans can look forward to?
JD: Well, it’s been just over a year or so since we were last there. So, we’ve done this same tour that we’re on now for about a year so we haven’t done this version of this show in Australia yet. So, to even bring that and this set list, fans can probably look forward to some songs that we haven’t played in Australia before which will be really exciting for us. We’ve done the US twice on this tour and this is my favourite tour we’ve ever done. Our last show in the States was six days ago and I’m already ready. It’s already been too long (laughs).
MF: I think it’s safe to say your Aussie fans would agree with that. And it’s been around two years since you released Blurryface and it’s obviously been a whirlwind since then, but have you had a chance to work on any new music on the road?
JD: A little bit! It’s in the early stages right now. This past tour that we did was pretty time consuming, but Tyler and I love coming up with new stuff. So, there’s times in sound check or in the bus when we come up with different ideas and just get super amped on something.
So, we’re kind of in the initial stages right now where we’re coming up with ideas that we’re excited about and then that evolves into a song. So, as far as when that’ll be ready to go, I’m not totally sure but we’re trying as hard as we can to put something together because we love making music.
MF: Blurryface was almost like a concept album and was shaped by intimate themes like insecurity and personal issues. Have the ideas you’ve been tossing around followed the same vein or are they more influenced by the new experiences you’ve had over the last few years?
JD: Yeah, I think so. The concept behind Blurryface was really this idea of, exactly like you said, insecurity that kind of stemmed during the writing process of Blurryface and that there were more expectations from people. That became a very scary thing for us. Over time, a lot of people have been asking us if the success of this album has changed that at all and I think in some ways the answer is yes. In some ways too, I realise that I’ll wake up in the morning and deal with some of the same insecurities that I did before this album came out and before I even played in the band. So, I think we’ve just realised that this is a part of life and some of it may never go away. But with that, we have different challenges and even when you overcome something, that presents a new challenge.
I think that’s part of life and there’s something I really like about that. If there was nothing to wake up and fight for, then there would be no reason to wake up at all. So, I guess I got a little deeper than I anticipated but uh… yes, the short answer is there will definitely be some new things to write about (laughs).
MF: That’s awesome, so it sounds like it’ll still be pretty relatable for your fans which I think is much of the appeal of twenty one pilots.
JD: Well, thank you. This has gotten pretty big over the last couple of years and specifically the past year. But really, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re two kids from Columbus Ohio and I still feel like the same person as before and I know we’re going to remain intentional about writing music that we really enjoy and writing songs that do mean something. So, I think that whatever we put out in the future, at least we can know those things.
twenty one pilots kick off their Australian arena tour in Brisbane, tonight. Head here for tour dates and details.