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Twenty One Pilots – Hip Hop One Day, Hardcore The Next

Written by Mike Hohnen on April 25, 2013

Though the third record from schizoid pop duo Twenty One Pilots has now had some time to find its footing in the US, Vessel has only just made its way Down Under this past month, once again creating a whole lotta buzz around the release. No-one is more excited about this than the pair themselves. Speaking on behalf of himself and cohort Tyler Joseph, drummer Josh Dun caught up with Music Feeds to voice said excitement.

The phone connection was strong, but crackly – strange in this day and age – which begged the question, “Where in the world was Dun calling from?”

“That’s a great question,” he started, “I honestly do not know. We’re travelling at the moment and playing a show in Minneapolis right now. We just got some kind of new vehicle that’s not quite a bus but much bigger than a van. It’s got bunks and couches and TVs and all that. So, yeah, driving around and playing shows and being as busy as we possibly can.”

Picturing some sort of Fear And Loathing-type set up, we thought we’d get to business before getting too tangled in the comparisons. On Friday, 12th April, Vessel officially hit shelves in Australia – a long way from their hometown – and it seems the weight of this isn’t lost on the pair.

“It’s a special thing,” says Dun. “Tyler and I were talking about it and how we truly started in our hometown of Ohio and it’s slowly been branching out and catching on since then. For the first year we really only worked on our own sound but just 5 months ago we put our record out in the States and it was a really cool experience for us to put out something nationwide. So when you think about releasing our album on the whole other side of the world, overseas, in another continent, it’s really humbling and special, but so pumped up.”

The DIY ethos of the band and the overwhelming sense of the localism of their scene would have made international releases somewhat tricky in the past. Whilst the concept isn’t impossible, it seems Twenty One Pilots are still coming to terms with the fact their songs are being sold and purchased on the other side of the planet. “It’s crazy, I never would have thought that this would be the case,” Dun added.

It doesn’t seem as though the time difference will deter Dun from checking up on the instant feedback that happens these days, explaining that for better or worse, “I want to try and see as much of the reaction as possible and see how it’s translating all over the world, because you never know. I guess this is our first time doing something like this, and even releasing something in our own country I was interested to see what people were saying about it. I would love to, as much as I can, keep on top of that.”

Something Aussie audiences are yet to experience about the band is their genre-skipping abilities, delivering a service that appeals to both punk rock fans and hip hop fans. Dun explained how this came into play. “When we first started nobody really knew what shows to put us on. We didn’t know what sort of shows we were meant to play! So for the first year we played everything, anything that was going. In our home state there’s a big presence of hardcore music so we played a lot of those shows.”

Was it intimidating? “In a way it was pretty cool because people would think, ‘Wow! This is a lot different from what we’ve been listening to all day.’ Then the next show we’ll be playing a hip hop show and the people who go to those shows enjoy seeing real instruments, real drums and a white guy rapping!” he laughed. “We really take pride in fitting into these areas and owning these stages.”

As it turns out, we may not have to wait too much longer to experience this multiple personality music. When asked about the potential of an Australian tour, Dun responded, “Yeah, I think so. There’s not any plans solidified yet, but there’s the beginning of plans to head down to Australia. We played one show in England – and we’re going back to do some more – playing at 200 capacity venue, and it was packed full of people. And I think that’s what needed to happen – a small and intimate environment. But, yeah, I can’t wait to get over there. We’ll see what happens I guess.”

Twenty One Pilots’ third studio album ‘Vessel’ is out now in Australia

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