Musician Profile: Twenty-One Pilots

By Sian Last

Rap AND ukulele refrains.  What more do I have to say about Twenty-One Pilots? You can now have your cake and eat it too with the two piece band out of Columbus, Ohio. This group seems to fit into the new wave of musicians and bands combining rap and indie-rock vocals, heavy electronic sound, and soft melodies.  The band’s heavy beats create fun music that you can’t help swaying to at least a little bit when you listen to them. However, lyrics for songs like “Car Radio” lead the listener to question things like our discomfort with silence today.  In fact, lead singer Tyler Joseph describes the band’s plan in the artist statement on their website as ”mak[ing] people think.” This is a very pure and simple philosophy – isn’t that refreshing to hear?  Clearly, this is a band whose music can be playing in the background as you dance around your room in your underwear, or lay on your bed and contemplate the meaning of life.

The sense of moral imperative that is expressed in their songs is also expressed in the band’s name, which is taken from Arthur Miller’s World War II play, “All My Sons,” which tells the story of a business man who compromises his morals for economic profit, causing the death of 21 airplane pilots.

Their 2013 album, Vessel, shows a range of topics, from the darkness of “Ode to Sleep” (about insomnia), to the cheery and sweet brightness of “House of Gold” (about building a house for your mom).  It is this range that has allowed the band to tour with such acts as Neon Trees, Walk the Moon, and Grouplove. The album is, more or less, a rerelease of their 2011 effort, Regional At Best,  now under the Fueled by Ramen record label.  The record has already received a considerable amount of play and success in Japan, while the band continues to maintain a strong following in America’s heartland.  Now on tour to promote Vessel, the band will be playing at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club on May 6.

With continued success, it will be interesting to see how the band’s clearly varied influences continue to affect the genre of music they create.  The band may make more rap-rock, indie-rock, or rock-infused synthpop, but as long as the lyrics stay, so will their listeners.

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