Twenty One Pilots

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Twenty One Pilots
Twenty One Pilots Live at the LC - Columbus, OH.png
Twenty One Pilots performing in Columbus, Ohio
Background information
Origin Columbus, Ohio, United States
Genres Indie pop, alternative rock, indietronica, rap rock, experimental rock
Years active 2009-present
Labels Fueled by Ramen
Members Tyler Joseph
Josh Dun
Past members Nick Thomas
Chris Salih

Twenty One Pilots (stylized twenty | one | pilots) is an American musical duo from Columbus, Ohio. The band was formed in 2009 and consists of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun.[1] They 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.[2] They released their studio debut, Vessel, with Fueled by Ramen in 2013.[3]


2009-2011: Formation and Twenty One Pilots[edit]

The band was formed in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio by college friends, Tyler Joseph, Nick Thomas, and Chris Salih.[2][4] Joseph came up with the band's name while studying All My Sons by Arthur Miller, a play about a man who must decide what is best for his family after causing the death of twenty one pilots during World War II because he knowingly sent them faulty parts for the good of his business. Joseph explains that this story of moral dilemma was the inspiration for the name of the band.[5] On December 29, 2009, they released their debut, self-titled album and began touring Ohio.

In 2010, the band released two officially unreleased tracks to their SoundCloud account. One, an original song titled, "Time to Say Goodbye",[6] and another cover of "Jar of Hearts"[7] by Christina Perri. Though they were originally available for free download, the option has since been removed.

In mid 2011, Thomas and Salih sequentially left due to busy schedules. Both posted farewell notes on the band's official Facebook page.[8][9] Joseph was then joined by Josh Dun,[4] former live drummer of House of Heroes.[10]

2011-2012: Regional at Best and Fueled By Ramen record deal[edit]

Their second self-release, Regional at Best, was released July 8, 2011 with the new lineup consisting of only Joseph and Dun. The album was accompanied by a free CD release show on the grounds of New Albany High School. In November 2011, they played a sold out show at Columbus' Newport Music Hall attracting the attention of a dozen record labels. [11] Although many labels fought over the band, it was ultimately decided that they would sign to the Atlantic Records subsidiary label Fueled by Ramen.

During the same year, the duo also gave fans two free, otherwise unreleased, songs via their email newsletter: the original version of "House of Gold" and a single entitled "Two."

On February 11, 2012, the band released a music video on YouTube for an unreleased song called "Goner".[12] Besides the video, the song is still entirely and officially, unreleased.

2012-present: Vessel, Television debut and fourth album[edit]

In April 2012, at a sold out show at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, they announced their signing to Atlantic Records subsidiary label Fueled by Ramen.[4] On July 17, 2012, they released their debut Fueled by Ramen recording in the form of a three song EP, entitled Three Songs. In August 2012, they embarked on a short tour with Neon Trees and Walk the Moon.[11] They worked with Greg Wells, producer of Adele and Katy Perry, on their first full-length album on the record label Fueled by Ramen, Vessel.[13] It was released January 8, 2013 and reached No. 58 on the Billboard 200, No. 42 on the Digital Albums chart, No. 17 on the Internet Albums chart, No. 15 on the Rock Albums Chart and No. 10 on the Alternative Albums Chart.

Lead singer Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots in a concert in "Gebäude 9", Cologne, on February 12, 2014.

The group currently has their first radio hit in America, "Holding on to You", which has reached 11 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart; additionally, the singles "Guns for Hands" and "Lovely" reached No. 21 and No. 67, respectively, on the Japan Hot 100.

On November 12, 2012, the official music video for "Holding on to You" was released on YouTube.[14] Sequentially in 2013, music videos for "Guns for Hands" and "Car Radio" were uploaded on January 7 and April 19.[15][16]

In May 2013, Fall Out Boy announced that Twenty One Pilots will be touring as opening acts on the Save Rock and Roll Arena Tour the following Fall.[17]

On August 8, 2013, Twenty One Pilots performed "House of Gold" on Conan in their late night debut. On October 2, the music video for the song was uploaded to YouTube.[18]

On December 24, Christmas Eve, Tyler Joseph participated and sang "O come, O come, Emmanuel" at Five14 Church's Christmas With the Stars in New Albany, Ohio. The official video of the performance was uploaded to YouTube on February 14, 2014.[19] He also performed a magic segment with David McCreary for the show.[20]

On December 31, New Years Eve, the music video for Twenty One Pilots' song, "Truce", was uploaded via YouTube.[21]

Also in December, the official music video for "Migraine" was uploaded via Vimeo.[22]

On March 17, the band performed a set at the mtvU Woodie Awards during SXSW.[23]

On April 13, Twenty One Pilots performed "Car Radio" at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards.[24]

On April 28, Twenty One Pilots performed "Car Radio" on Late Night with Seth Meyers.[25][not in citation given]

2014: Breakthrough and Quiet Is Violent World Tour[edit]

As the new year began, the band started to break into the mainstream,[citation needed] proven to be in demand at music festivals and other events all around the country, such as Lollapalooza,[26]Bonnaroo,[27] and Firefly[28] As a result, they took the show requests from different cities and blended them into the Quiet Is Violent World Tour, scheduled to begin in September 2014.[29] On April 15, 2014, Joseph and Dun uploaded a cover of "Mad World" by Tears For Fears via YouTube.[30] Following its release, the song began to appear as a staple in live performances by the group.[31]

On June 25, Tyler Joseph tweeted a picture saying they were currently working on new music.[32]

Starting on June 27, Twenty One Pilots sequentially posted three promotional videos for their upcoming Quiet Is Violent World Tour via YouTube.[33][34][35]

Band members[edit]

  • Nick Thomas - bass guitar, keyboards (2009–2011)
  • Chris Salih - drums (2009–2011)

Musical style and influence[edit]

Twenty One Pilots bring a mix of piano (sometimes an electronic keyboard or a keytar), synthesizer, drums (also mixed with electronic drums some parts), vocals, and occasionally ukulele. Their songs are poetry-based (written by Tyler),[36] and when his poetry is too long he stated that he needs to start rapping to fit the lyrics in.[37]

People typically have trouble affiliating the band to a specific genre to describe them, since they bridge so many.[38] However, many fans (and themselves to a degree) have labeled them "Schizophrenic pop" (also known as Schizoid pop), a technically unofficial subgenre of pop.[5]

Although many of their songs contain allusions to Christian theology and have messages (even if implied) about God, and all members of the band (past and present) are Christians, Twenty One Pilots is not considered a Christian band.[4][39]

Twenty One Pilots official band logo.

In regards to their logo, Tyler Joseph stated in an interview that:

" It means Twenty One Pilots, the logo does. Why it means Twenty One Pilots, is it really goes along with one of our songs called “Kitchen Sink.” The whole concept of that song is that I feel that humans are always struggling all the time when it comes to purpose, trying to figure out their purpose is, what purpose even is, what’s the point, justifying your own existence. A lot of kids and people my age struggle with “what’s the point,” and with the logo, what it really means is it’s an encouragement. When someone asks me what the logo means to me, the logo means something to me because I made it mean something to me. That’s the point. The point is that I created something that only I understand and whether or not I decide to disclose the meaning of it, that’s the beginning of purpose for me. The meaning of purpose for me, is by creating something, if it be by writing lyrics, painting a picture, by expressing yourself through art if it’s photography or music or theater, or whatever it is. It doesn’t have to be artistic, but if you create something and only you know the meaning of it, that’s the beginning of purpose for you. When you’re in the room by yourself trying to decide whether to stay alive, you can tell yourself “I should probably stay alive because I’m the only one who knows the meaning of that thing,” so the logo is an encouragement for people to create. That’s what it means."

—Tyler Joseph explaining the band's logo.[40]

According to the band, their 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.[5]



A list of Twenty One Pilots' awards and nominations.

Year Recipient Award Result
2013 "Holding On To You" MTV Video Music Award – Artist to Watch[41] Nominated
Twenty One Pilots MTV Europe Music Awards - Best Push Act[42] Nominated
2014 Twenty One Pilots AP Music Awards – Best Live Band[43] Nominated
"Vessel" AP Music Awards – Album of the Year[44] Nominated
Twenty One Pilots AP Music Awards – Breakthrough Band[45] Nominated
Josh Dun AP Music Awards – Best Drummer[46] Nominated


  1. ^ "iTunes Music Twenty One Pilots". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Twenty One Pilots Biography Billboard". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ Review of Vessel, Allmusic
  4. ^ a b c d "With debut album set for release, Columbus duo Twenty One Pilots poised to break out". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "About twenty one pilots". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Time to Say Goodbye" on SoundCloud
  7. ^ "Jar of Hearts" cover on SoundCloud
  8. ^ "Nick Thomas' Farewell Letter". Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Chris Salih's Farewell Letter". Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Interview: Twenty One Pilots, part 1". Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Review twenty one pilots Regional at Best". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  12. ^ "twenty one pilots: Goner". YouTube. February 11, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Twenty One Pilots - Music, Biography, Credits and Discography: AllMusic". Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  14. ^ "twenty one pilots: Holding on to You". YouTube. November 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ "twenty one pilots: Guns For Hands". YouTube. January 7, 2013. 
  16. ^ "twenty one pilots: Car Radio". YouTube. April 19, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Twenty One Pilots added to Fall Out Boy arena tour". Alternative Press. May 13, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  18. ^ "twenty one pilots: House of Gold". YouTube. October 2, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Tyler Joseph performs "O come, O come, Emmanuel" at Five14 Church, OH on Christmas Eve". YouTube. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Magic with David McCreary and Tyler Joseph". YouTube. Retrieved June 18, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Twenty One Pilots: Truce". YouTube. December 31, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Twenty One Pilots: Migraine". Vimeo. June 18, 2014. 
  23. ^ "twenty one pilots Perform 'Guns For Hands' At mtvU Woodie Awards". Fueled by Ramen. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  24. ^ "twenty one pilots live at the MTV Movie Awards 2014". MTV. April 13, 2014. 
  25. ^ "watch_twenty_one_pilots_perform_car_radio_on_late_night_with_seth_meyers". Alternative Press. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  26. ^ "Twenty One Pilots". Lollapalooza. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Twenty One Pilots". Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Firefly Music Festival". Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Tour". Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Twenty One Pilots: Mad World (Cover)". YouTube. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  31. ^ Greenwald, David (April 12, 2014). "twenty one pilots Covered ‘Mad World,’ And We’re Not Mad At All". MTV. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Twenty One Pilots: New Music". Twitter. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  33. ^ "This Fall - 01 The Clique". YouTube. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  34. ^ "This Fall - 02 Climb". YouTube. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  35. ^ "This Fall - 03 Together". YouTube. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  36. ^ Interview: twenty one pilots; The National Student, April 9, 2013
  37. ^ Twenty One Pilots – More Than ‘Regional at Best’; Cornerstone, February 20, 2012
  38. ^ Interview: Twenty One Pilots; WOUB, March 14, 2012
  39. ^ "Twenty One Pilots: Masters of the Culture of Encounter". Word of Fire. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014. "Twenty One Pilots is not a Christian band, but Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn are both believers." 
  40. ^ Twenty One Pilots (7 March 2012)[1] Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  41. ^ MTV artist to watch: TWENTY ONE PILOTS with FIVE KNIVES and KALEIDO at the Crofoot Ballroom; The Croofoot, October 5, 2013
  42. ^ MTV - Best Push - Vote; MTV
  43. ^ [2]; AP
  44. ^ [3]; AP
  45. ^ [4]; AP
  46. ^ [5]; AP

External links[edit]