Exclusive: Twenty One Pilots Do Twitter HQ
Everything you’ve heard about Twenty One Pilots is true. The wildly dedicated fanbase, the vivid live shows, the backflips, the bromance… all of it. The Columbus, Ohio duo deal in what’s come to be known as schizoid pop, but getting too caught up in genres here will only spoil the fun.
When the invite to a TØP acoustic performance and Q&A at Twitter HQ cropped up in our inbox, we were swayed by more than the promise of complimentary refreshments. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, Twenty One Pilots have become a global phenomenon, and that was reason enough for us to see what they’d deliver to a handful of adoring fans and media.
When we stepped out of the elevator on the 39th floor, it felt as though we’d entered the MTV Cribs of Aussie offices. Sydney’s Twitter HQ is decked out in crisp white and gold decor with floor to ceiling windows delivering an almost 360° view of the city.
Rather than a stamp on the hand, the #OzClique were ushered through the doors and given a bright red Twenty One Pilots beanie to mark the occasion; soon enough we were staring out across what looked like a sea of Papa Smurfs, eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of the world’s most talked about duos.
Because we pride ourselves on being professionals, we stormed the food table with much the same gusto that fans swarmed the tiny makeshift stage. It wasn’t long before both Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph made their entrance, and they kindly indulged the crowd by answering a selection of questions from fans and media alike.
Twenty One Pilots Q&A
With Vessel remastering all but eight of the tracks on Regional At Best, what are the odds we may see an EP or an album with those eight tracks remastered or re-recorded in the way you did with Vessel?
Tyler Joseph: That’s a good question. I guess the short answer is I don’t know, but for me, a lot of the old stuff… When I listen back to it, the producer side of me picks it apart. Like I was just learning how to record vocals; my brother flushed the toilet and the pipe was right next to my little basement studio, so there’s actually vocals where him going to the bathroom is in the CD. A part of me thinks it’d be great to just get those sounds the way I’ve always wanted and we’ve talked about that, but at the same time it feels really good for those songs to live in a place and a time and represent who I was and what I was going through. And when I look at it in that way, I kind of like that they live there. So it could go either way.
Tyler, what’s the first song you learnt on the ukulele and Josh, what’s the first song you learnt on drums?
Joseph: The first song I learnt on the ukulele was a song called “House Of Gold”, which I wrote. If you know the song, it starts out with just the bottom string, it’s one little string, and it was literally because I didn’t know how to play it, and I just started singing to that and from there I thought, man I should learn some chords.
Josh Dun: Mine was probably “House Of Gold”… Nah, I used to just go to the music store and play the electronic drums that they had until they kicked me out because people wanted to buy them. But I’ll never forget when I always used to have headphones on and I’d play along with myself. When I learned a drum beat for the first time, I couldn’t wait to plug it into the speaker and I was just like, ‘I don’t care if anyone hears this’.
Joseph: You know how you go to the music store and you hear people playing and you’re really annoyed by it? That was Josh.
Is it hard for you to choose what songs to put into setlists for tours or shows?
Joseph: Yeah, I mean all of a sudden we have enough songs to play a show maybe three times a night so we have to get rid of some of them and not play some of them, which sucks, but putting a setlist together is one of my favourite things to do because not only are we trying to take a room of people along a journey and try to get them to a certain place, each step you take will hopefully continue to grab their attention. But also there’s a lot of logistical things that go into a setlist. Like if the mic stand is down there at that point, I should probably also do that song next so that the transition feels nice. So there’s a lot of finesse involved in putting a setlist together, which I really like doing.
I’ve heard you mention there’s three different characters on the album [Blurryface] that you write in, how did that come about and is it easier for you to write within a character?
Joseph: Yeah, but it’s never like, ‘I’m going to write as someone that I don’t know’ or write about a story that I haven’t personally interacted with, so it’s not super far removed, but one of the characters I dive into as a songwriter is . Well there’s on person who kind of looks at the world and wants to poke fun at it a little bit, I would describe a song like “Stressed Out” as one of those where I’m kind of reminiscing with my brother but also talking about some things that I don’t like about the world, whether it’s the government, student loans and stuff like that. That’s one guy. Then there’s another guy who really just kind of dives in and tries to figure things out. I don’t think anyone’s ever really interacted with that person, he’s like… in a basement somewhere. And then there’s a newer one, which actually got married recently, . Now that there’s someone out there who I care more about than myself, there’s a new feeling and that’s a different character now too. Only a few songs have come out of that character, but hopefully it’ll be more.
“We actually just handed the gift cards to the front row and our mums were up in the balcony, and we told the audience that we wouldn’t play any more music until our mums got our gift cards.”
A few years back you said that one of your favourite lyrics you’d ever written was in “Taxi Cab”. Is that still one of your favourite lyrics? And if not, what’s your new favourite?
Joseph: Man, you’re taking about my children… I really like that verse a lot. So in “Migraine”, actually the chorus “Shadows will scream that I’m alone”, for some reason I sing that, I like it a lot, but I think back to when I was taking a Spanish class in high school and my Spanish teacher was from Mexico, so she was fluent in Spanish, but there were a few English words she couldn’t say very well. She said schedule wrong, she said it “schedure”, and so I always hear myself saying “schedure” instead of “shadow”, so I always laugh every time I play it at a show.
You guys seem pretty close to your mums, what’s the greatest thing you’ve been able to do for them since your success?
Dun: I let my mum take me out for ice cream once.
Joseph: She’d been asking for 25 years… One time we gave our mums spa gift cards at a show. I don’t know if you guys heard about that, but we actually just handed the gift cards to the front row and our mums were up in the balcony, and we told the audience that we wouldn’t play any more music until our mums got our gift cards, so they actually worked together very well and passed them back to our mums.
Dun: I don’t hear the end of that. Every time my mum wants to go get her hair done or whatever, she texts me and is like, ‘Are you gonna give me another gift card?’ So maybe it was a bad idea.
We actually stopped by the venue you guys are playing tonight and there’s at least 400 people – most of which have been camped out since last night waiting for you guys. You’ve sold out 12 shows on this tour among many other achievements – did you ever envision that Twenty One Pilots would explode in the way it has?
Joseph: You have to have a cocky drummer. You’re not gonna get anywhere without one. Next question [laughs].
Dun: I think my answer to that is it’s a little bit of both. When we first met and started hanging out and talking about music and what it is that we wanted to do with music or how we personally want to use it, I think we had and we also set goals for ourselves and for ourselves as a band and so I think if this band, if we were still travelling around locally like we did when we first started, I would still love it and we’d be in an SUV driving around Ohio playing and enjoying ourselves. But I think anytime you’re creating something or doing something that you believe in, I think anybody should dream big and have big goals. With that, without you guys we wouldn’t be able to do this, so it’s not us saying we believe in ourselves, it’s that we believe that people can make something really cool happen.
Joseph: I think what’s interesting also is that back when Josh and I were first talking about what we wanted to do and we were first hanging out, you would think that if we now were to go back in time and watch that conversation, or to even be a part of that conversation as future versions of ourselves, we would say, ‘Yeah absolutely, it’ll work. We know it’ll work’. But what’s weird is that we look back at the career and the path that we’ve taken and in a way, I almost wanna tell those kids, ‘There’s no way that’s gonna work, man’ so I realise there was almost a level of ignorance that we thought it would work. We’re just really grateful and in a sense lucky to be up here because there’s a lot of really talented people trying to do the same thing and we don’t want to lose sight of that.
And now what you all came here to see: we ducked between fans’ legs to bring you a snippet of Tyler Joseph’s acoustic set, which consisted of “Lane Boy”, mega hit “Stressed Out” and fan favourite “Holding Onto You” delivered ever-so-sweetly on a ukulele. Enjoy!
Twenty One Pilots
Wed Apr 27th – The Forum, Melbourne – SOLD OUT
Sat April 30th – Groovin The Moo @ Prince of Wales Showground, Bendigo – SOLD OUT
Sun May 1st – Groovin The Moo @ Murray Sports Complex, Townsville
Tue May 3rd – The Tivoli, Brisbane – SOLD OUT
Thu May 5th – The Astor, Perth – SOLD OUT
Sat May 7th – Groovin The Moo @ Hay Park, Bunbury