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About Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots put out two self-released albums, Twenty One Pilots in 2009 and Regional at Best in 2011, before being signed by Fueled by Ramen in 2012. Their label debut, Vessel, was released in 2013. The duo achieved breakthrough success with their fourth album, Blurryface (2015), which produced the successful singles “Stressed Out” and “Ride”. In addition, the single “Heathens”, recorded for the soundtrack of the film Suicide Squad, made the group the first alternative artist to have two concurrent top ten singles in the United States. The duo’s fifth studio album, Trench, was released on October 5, 2018. They have won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
The band’s musical style has been described as alternative hip hop, electropop, indie pop, pop rock, rap rock, alternative rock, reggae, rock, synth-pop, pop, electronica, electronic rock, emo rap, indie rock, pop-rap, hip hop, psychedelic, and indietronica. Ultimately, it is difficult to categorize the band using a single genre only, since they bridge so many of them. This has been attributed partly to the fact that both Joseph and Dun are self-taught musicians, meaning that while producing their work they broke many musical conventions that they were not aware of, including staying confined to a single genre of music.
Instrumentally, Twenty One Pilots bring a mix of piano (sometimes an electronic keyboard or a keytar), synthesizers, drums (sometimes mixed with electronic drums), vocals, organs, bass, and occasionally the ukulele, guitar and trumpet. Lyrically, their songs are written by Joseph, who incorporates both sung and rapped lyrics. Music journalist Carl Wilson has noted that Joseph’s rapping is often compared to that of Macklemore, yet he wrote “but among the ranks of post-Eminem white rappers, I find Joseph more probing, sardonic, and expressive.” Joseph has stated that he had never intended to become a rapper, but that when attempting to fit poetry which he had written with music, he found that rapping elements of it was the only way for it to fit within the song.
According to the band, Twenty One Pilots’ purpose for making music is “to make people think”, as well as encourage them to find joy in what they come to believe in life. Joseph came up with the band’s name while studying All My Sons by Arthur Miller, a play about a man whose decision, sending out faulty airplane parts for the good of his business and family, has caused the death of twenty-one pilots during World War II. Joseph explains that the story’s themes of moral dilemma and choosing between the easy and the right decision inspired the name and formation of the band. “Bicycle Thief” and “Chill Coat” were among some of the rejected band names.