Only a few hours before Twenty One Pilots take to the stage in the sold out Cockpit in Leeds, Tyler (Lead Vocals) and Josh (Drums) talk to us about touring the UK, their major label Fueled By Ramen and their music.
Twenty One Pilots are currently touring the UK and you can check out the remaining dates below.
HTS: It’s your first headline tour of the UK. How has it been so far, how have the crowd reacted to you so far?
Josh: Well we’ve been to the UK a few times, but this feels like our first legitimate time travelling around. I met Oliver Twist the other day, he’s a jerk. It’s been cool, because we’ve been here before we’ve been able to see a sort of improvement in the numbers of people coming to the shows, it’s encouraging.
HTS: What’s the difference between UK and US Fans?
Tyler: Well each city is different. We work pretty hard at studying crowd and trying to figure out how they think. It depends, if you get a festival over here its different to a headline gig. People think differently, or do different things. You’d be surprised how similar the stories are and how similar the reactions are. It’s almost like the internet has provided people an idea of what people should do at shows. I mean, you could fill that same room with the same group of people but put a different band up there, and they might do something completely different. I think the crowds aren’t so much the people; as much as the band perpetuating what it is the crowd is supposed to do. We’ve been fortunate enough to be the type of band that has a sense of consistency towards our fans, so I would say it’s pretty similar. A little less grabby maybe, grabby is bad.
HTS: Last year you performed Reading & Leeds festival and had a massive turnout, so how was that experience?
Tyler: We just, didn’t think anyone knew who we are at all. We were very young and new, we still are. I’ll never forget playing those shows. Other than working on our music, our friendship is based around watching live music on screen. I must have watched hours and hours of Reading & Leeds footage, so I’ve always dreamed about playing those festivals, but part of me kinds knew it was just a dream. It was an amazing moment for us to do that.
HTS: You’re touring up until the summer, with a US tour following this UK tour. Are there any plans to go into the studio, and record some new material as a follow up to ‘Vessel’?
Tyler: We’ve been travelling on this album for over a year now, and we’re from a local scene where you’re supposed to crank out as many songs as possible to keep people interested. And now we’re part of the bigger machine, they release a certain amount of songs and then you live on those songs for a certain amount of time. In Japan, in order to be relevant you have to crank out a new album every nine months, and that’s just how quick the turnover is. It makes sense with the way we grab things in our society, with everything being so quick now with the internet. I’m surprised we’re still on the type of timeline where we’re able to sit on an album for two years before you release another one. We’re definitely inching to work on some new music, towards the end of this year when we start wrapping our minds about what another album is going to look like, we plan on be quickly transitioning into major label album release number two, not really taking a break.
HTS: You have a very unique sound, what inspires you to write your music?
Tyler: Well you know if I was walking. I was walking around at 9 o’clock this morning just walking around the train station, it was awesome. I was walking around and looking at all these people who have different jobs. I am so blessed and so lucky to have the job that I have where we’re able to play music and still survive off of the money we make playing music, and it being enough money to call it a job. We went through a time when we had jobs and we were trying to do music, but when it comes to the song writing, it didn’t matter what job I had, I was always compelled to write music. So it really is a blessing to have a job where it is my job to write music. So what inspires me? Travelling can affect your song writing, you can sing about certain topics in different ways, and your drum beats can be different depending where you are in the world.
HTS: Originally you had two other members, did their departure have an effect on the music.
Tyler: It was just so long ago. Must have been three years ago. No, it didn’t effect anything, and I’m not just saying that, maybe the element of having more people on stage but you’d be surprised how many stages we show up to and say we wish there was more room for the two of us, it just has a lot to do with us having a lot of gear and that we like to move around a lot, and I think it has freed us up to move around, but we’re still good friends with them though.
HTS: When you were growing up in Ohio what was the music you were listening to when you were growing up?
Josh: I just listened to whatever my parents didn’t want me to listen to; I was like a rebel kid. I think the first album I bought was The Offspring. I just like punk rock music like that. I was listening to that album the other day and it’s weird to think back, my life was a lot different back then, there’s a lot of the punk rock mentalities that I really liked, I don’t really stand for any of the messages, but there’s a feeling that it gives me that I always kind of enjoyed. I think also, both of us fell in the perfect slot time wise where right before us if you asked people what they listened to, they would be like, I listen to rock music, or I like country music, but now, they’re going to say I listen to a little of everything, I guess cause its more accessible. Everything has sort of blended together a little bit. We both grew up listening to stuff that’s all over the place, not having a specific radio station, just flipping all over, maybe it’s just because our generation is a little more ADD, and it’s harder to stay on one thing so we flip flop back and forth. It’s not surprising to go through an iPod and there’s some crazy rap song, then a hard rock song, so it really is all over the place and that question is getting harder and harder to answer. Now I just go on Spotify and click on discover and it’s something different every time.
HTS: The title of the band was based on a book by James Arthur – All My Songs, and your lyrics are very poetry based. With all the chart songs about sex and relationships, what message are you trying to give out to your fans?
Tyler: That there’s more than sex and relationships… You think that we would have had enough of that, I get that it’s a big part of our life, a big part of being human, but there’s more than just that that should be talked about. We never have some sort of agenda, we never want to come across like we’re trying to force some sort of issue, or belief that we know what’s right and what’s wrong. But it’s hard for us to not want to talk about some of the tough questions. Everyone’s asked themselves those tough questions. I feel like as you get older you stop asking yourself those questions, but when you’re young and you’re trying to figure out everything about life you tend to be more willing to ignorantly ask yourself that questions. But then you find out that you don’t know the answer and that’s when a lot of kids struggle with whatever they struggle with cause they don’t have the answer to those questions, not that our music is answering those questions but at least it’s letting them know that there is someone else out there asking those questions and trying to figure them out. It’s not something you have to go through yourself.
HTS: Your two previous albums were both self-released, and now you’re with Fueled By Ramen, how does it compare to release an album through a record label compared to doing it yourself?
Josh: Well before it was like if a song was done or a record was done then it was just like put it on iTunes’ or put it on YouTube, or whatever platform it is you can get people to hear it, and with working with a record label that’s just full of people that are really talented at what they do, and as far as thinking a bit more strategically, although that was our strategy because we have no other option. But they’ve helped us to get as much out of it as we can and not only that but be able to market it better than we would be able to do. From the beginning we had a vision of what we wanted to do and they’ve come alongside us and helped. I feel like instead of coming ahead of us and pulled us along they’ve come behind us and pushed us forward.
HTS: Is there an added pressure being on a major label, or does it make it easier?
Tyler: It’s definitely an added pressure because there are people that are invested in your project and if it flops then everyone else flops. Before it was just us in between shifts putting stuff online. It’s interesting because this album we have now we’ve basically had our whole career to write it, and we were writing from a mind-set of having nothing to prove just wanting to put out whatever we wanted a song to sound like. Now moving forward everything we work on has an element that has never existed before in our song writing thought process; one, there’s a group of people out there anticipating what you’re gonna put out, so do you write something that they want, or something that we want. Then you have to think about some of the aspects of what makes a band successful in the market place these days, it’s a lot about radio and trying to cater to pop music. We could crank out the popiest music with the right formula, we can do that, but then there’s that tension of not wanting to write something so shamelessly poppy with nothing there, and nothing to connect with. So there’s all these new variables we have to think about as we’re writing; I truly pray that we can get back in a mind-set where we’re not letting these new variables affect our song writing, but I don’t think it will. Hopefully we’ll make what makes sense with us as a band, growing in a world where there are no outside variables, which doesn’t exist but if we were to create that world what kind of music would we be putting out.
Check out their remaining UK dates below:
Wed 26 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Thu 27 London Heaven