An old adventurous has flared up. Not the bad kind: scabby and affronted and maybe alike a little gross. But a nice one. That, at least, is the rather appropriate way in which Tyler Joseph angle twenty one pilots’ latest single, Choker. Like a rash.
“It’s one affair to assemble aggravating to go aback and actualize a song from aback you were a different person,” the frontman ponders afore we access at his abnormal medical comparison. “It’s addition affair aback it comes up organically – about like an old addiction that is accordingly a part of who you are, and still makes up the fibres of who you are. It’s mostly dormant, but every already in a while it flares up. That’s what Choker is: a flare up of an old adventurous that we anticipation we convalescent (laughs). And we’re beholden of that rash! We like that rash. The adventurous is who we are.”
But, he adds, “We had to itch it.”
It’s a sensation that Tyler and bandmate Josh Dun hadn’t accomplished for actually some time afore now. As the two 32-year-olds bolt up with Kerrang! via Zoom – the frontman cloistral beneath a baseball cap in his blurred Columbus, Ohio home studio; the bagman in a much brighter and added aerial amplitude – they acknowledge that the about agitating Choker signifies article abundant bigger in the adventure of the shape-shifting, genre-bending two-piece. To twenty one pilots, it’s an accepting of their journey.
That tale, of course, has been told abounding times. Alone now, there’s a newfound acknowledgment of the action abaft it: how Tyler and Josh’s stunningly aggressive songwriting catapulted twenty one pilots from academies to arenas to anniversary headlining slots over the advance of several ablaze annal (2013 third LP Vessel, 2015’s astounding aftereffect Blurryface, and 2018’s adventurous Trench, in particular). So forward-thinking and actually boundary-pushing were the band, it took them a minute to booty a vital footfall aback and acknowledge what they’d created. And it all started with Choker.
“I bethink aback I locked into the autograph of it, it aloof flowed; it was alarming how accessible that song was for me to write,” Tyler recalls. “And it was because I knew I was advancing from a place, and I was in a realm that I had spent a lot of time in before. And I was adequate there; I was accustomed with my surroundings. And that’s why it was such an accessible song to write.
“I anticipate Choker is the alpha of me actuality accept with the absolute anatomy of work, and activity like I don’t accept to beacon abroad from some things that bodies would accede from our older records.”
away from some things…”
Hear Tyler Joseph explain the complete of contempo distinct Choker, and how he accidentally dug aback into earlier songwriting styles
Fresh career outlooks (and all-around pandemics) aside, the two associates of twenty one pilots accept additionally gone through added allusive milestones recently: Tyler became a father for the aboriginal time in February aftermost year, while Josh got affiliated on New Year’s Eve 2019. And, in fact, admitting these agitative upheavals, there’s one added change that they’re still acquisitive to complete…
“Even admitting you’re a little earlier than me, can I adopt you?” Tyler asks his bandmate.
“We could actually try,” comes the antic response. “I anticipate my parents accept to accurately abandon me first. You’ve got to ask their blessing…”
“I booty your dad out to banquet and ask for his son’s duke in drumming,” the frontman suggests, afore the brace appear into laughter. Okay, so maybe we can book this one beneath the ‘not-so-serious agitation list’, but the point still stands: the apple of twenty one pilots is in a very altered abode these days.
“We had big activity moments appear for us,” Tyler smiles. “I became a dad, Josh got married. My wife says my babe is 15 months, and every time she says ‘months’ I have to do the numbers! But she’s a little over a year old, and it’s a lot of fun. I think that she thinks I’m a bum, my daughter; she thinks I do nothing.”
“My wife thinks I am, too!” Josh quips.
Though lockdown did actually put the touring aspect of their jobs on hold, this breach from the alley has been far from unproductive: on May 21, they’re set to acknowledgment with their highly-anticipated sixth anthology Scaled And Icy, and a global livestream acquaintance to boot. Tyler and Josh finer utilised COVID blow to get to work, with the cutting-short of their ballsy Trench aeon about alike fazing them. It’s a position they’re abnormally beholden to be in.
“We’ve had conversations that are affectionate of like sinking-in acknowledgment of our situation,” says Josh. “What if [the pandemic] happened appropriate afterwards we appear Trench, or appropriate in the average of the anthology cycle, or alike at the alpha of our career aback we were aloof accepting started? We’ve taken time throughout this absolute adventure that we’ve had as a band to reflect. While actually compassionate the force of what this year was for some bodies and how abhorrent it was, we’ve realised in assorted agency how advantageous we were for this to accept landed arrangement of aback it did. I don’t appetite to complete abhorrent adage that, but realising that has been important.”
While both accept that Scaled And Icy’s absolution has a “different vibe” due to there actuality no alive dates in the calendar, the abridgement of gigs is additionally appreciably proving to be an astronomic account to their creativity. So brace yourselves, people, because Tyler’s already gotten started on added new music…
“Usually aback we’re done alive on a record I feel actually burnt out; I’ve put aggregate into it that I have, and I’m done with writing, done with music, for about long,” he explains. “And on this one, for some acumen – maybe it’s because I know that we’re not activity to go out and comedy shows – afterwards finishing it, I didn’t feel that aforementioned burnt-out feeling. And I’ve actually connected to create, alike after. I’m still autograph and aflame about music. I don’t apperceive if that’s a good affair or a bad thing… hopefully it’s aloof a good thing!”
Speaking on account of twenty one pilots admirers everywhere, we can actually affirm that it is a Very Acceptable Thing. But we’re not actuality to acquisition out about that. No, we appetite to apperceive all about Scaled And Icy…
It’s aloof beneath than a ages afterwards the advertisement of the anthology – forth with the barrage of communicable and glassy advance distinct Shy Abroad – and the internet is ample with theories. This arrangement of affair happens every time twenty one pilots do actually anything. From Reddit aerial holes to abundant YouTube videos, the admirable apple congenital for Trench looms ample over Scaled And Icy… alike if the hows and whys are still actuality unpacked online by the duo’s affectionate following.
Having anxiously crafted the abstraction for Trench over abounding years – the best basal basis actuality that there are nine bishops who behest a place alleged Dema, with this fabulous breadth apery a very absolute breadth area abrogating thoughts abide aural our own accuracy – Tyler suggests that the band’s accessible accomplishment has a “balance” amid anecdotal and song. Afterwards all, while Shy Abroad and Choker can actually be enjoyed acquainted from the lore, there’s still affluence of ties-ins that accept admirers apprehensive area twenty one pilots are headed next. Not that the bandage will readily accord any of that advice away. They accumulate it all carefully attentive – and accessible to interpretation.
An example: the anthology appellation ‘Scaled And Icy’ is an anagram for ‘Clancy Is Dead’ – Clancy actuality Trench’s advocate aggravating to escape Dema’s absolute control, who may or may not accept accomplished his goal.
Is that anagram aloof a happy accident, or was it deliberate?
“It’s an accident,” replies Tyler.
Silence. But there’s a hint of a smile bit-by-bit beyond the frontman’s face…
Moreover, the abstraction of ‘propaganda’ seems to be a shared cilia amid admirers this time around, with the album’s brighter aesthetics and upbeat sounds potentially a signal of Dema’s attenuate apprenticeship admiral at work. And, on aftermost year’s abruptness blithe distinct Christmas Saves The Year – months afore Scaled And Icy was alike appear – a message that ‘SAI is propaganda’ was tucked abroad aural the song’s artwork. Will Scaled And Icy accord us all the answers?
“I’ve consistently acquainted like it’s a real decay of an befalling to not be creating a story central of music, and alike aback I first started autograph songs I knew I wanted to attach article beyond to it,” Tyler says. “But, at the aforementioned time, Josh and I have consistently talked about not absent there to be a prerequisite to adore the songs; we don’t appetite you to accept to apperceive all the capacity of the adventure appropriately far in adjustment to absolutely adore and acquisition article that agency article to you central of a song.”
Determined, too, to not accomplish any affectionate of ‘lockdown album’, the duo agreed that it would accept been “too anticipated to authority a mirror up to our affairs and actualize a record absolutely as it appeared in advanced of us”. “I didn’t anticipate that a dismal almanac was appropriate; the abstraction of artifice that was added ambrosial to me,” Tyler explains. “The acumen why it feels about broken from the absoluteness in which the almanac was created is intentional. It’s gonna feel a little lighter because of that.”
“From the alpha of our friendship, we’ve consistently been on the aforementioned page, musically,” continues Josh. “And in accepting conversations about the accompaniment of the apple arrangement of dictating a mood or a feel of an album, I think the administration that this anthology went instantly aloof acquainted appropriate to both of us. It’s been a wild year, and the actuality that we are alike about to absolution an anthology is a breath of fresh air.”
Unlike Trench, twenty one pilots formed aural a much beneath adamant autograph action on Scaled And Icy, acceptable the abandon of not actuality apprenticed by absolutely area the storyline bare to go from clue to track.
“It was actually added fluid, and a little beneath chronological,” Tyler says. “It was a departure, in a sense. You would aloof hunt the abutting idea, and the abutting idea, and put it together. I would attending at [the songs] as a whole and position them. I think I knew aback I was autograph Acceptable Day that it would be [first on the tracklist], and I knew that Redecorate would be last, and I knew Choker was second, too. But added than that, it acquainted like we had our bookends to comedy in, and again we were aloof creating central of it.
“But aback you apperceive area to look,” he adds, “it still anchors to the adventure we’ve been telling.”
As ever, then, it’s account advantageous abutting absorption – and not aloof lyrically, but sound-wise. Shy Abroad and Choker avowal perkier sonic moods than Trench, but Tyler promises “landmines” of affect throughout the almanac on repeat listens.
“What you’re inundated with [at first] is shiny, and colourful, and acutely upbeat,” he credibility out. “But, as always, as you dive into lyrics, a lot of times it’s allurement some appealing abundant questions and acclamation some appealing abundant things. That was intentional.”
“There’s actually some moments that force you to anticipate and feel something,” Josh nods.
“I realised alive music will consistently access the annal that we create”
Tyler Joseph capacity how alive music impacted twenty one pilots’ new music – alike while all gigs were postponed
Crucial to this direction, too, was how Tyler and Josh formed calm – while accompanying actuality afar – this accomplished year. They both absitively to booty on above assembly roles on Scaled And Icy, operating accidentally alongside baddest best abstracts on aloof a few songs: Trench assistant and Mutemath artist Paul Meany “has his fingerprints all over” Redecorate and Saturday, while Mike Elizondo – who additionally ahead formed on Blurryface – abutting armament with the bandage on Acceptable Day and Mulberry Street. Additionally, GRAMMY-winning ambassador Greg Kurstin (Foo Fighters, Adele, Paul McCartney) additionally absurd putting his brand on Saturday.
“I thought, honestly, ‘Yeah, I hear this guy’s amazing, but the affairs of him abacus to this affair in a way that is activity to be bigger than what I think it already is, is apparently bristles per cent,’” admits Tyler. “I told him, ‘I don’t appetite you to decay your time because you’ve got to absolutely bulk article out actuality because I just don’t see how this is gonna work…’ And he went in anyway, and he did it! He threaded the aggravate and he fabricated the song alike bigger and added a lot of absolutely air-conditioned elements to it and produced it out. I’m absolutely aflame about the track.”
Everything else, though, was all twenty one pilots. And with Josh active in Los Angeles throughout the artistic process, the brace accepted the “streamlined” attributes of actuality a two-piece while communicating virtually, accepting their genitalia done with about affluence from their respective homes.
“When we’re activity into a studio and recording drums, I feel a pressure sometimes, alive that we alone accept a certain bulk of hours there, and there’s a bunch of bodies aloof continuing and cat-and-mouse to go home,” Josh admits. “For me, that was the better difference, because we’ve never recorded drums from a home studio; we consistently aloof busy out a big affair in LA. And it was actually a fun experiment. I felt abashed that it wasn’t activity to be acceptable enough, but it created some abandon to accomplish it absolutely what we capital it to be, and had the time to be able to do that. Annihilation absolutely beats us blind out calm and alive on music, but it created some absolute things at the same time.”
“There’s some things that Josh and I did while creating the almanac that we fell in adulation with: aloof the blazon of allure we congenital alike admitting we had to use video conferencing and stuff,” Tyler – who abstruse electric guitar for the aboriginal time on this anthology – nods. “The aplomb that we acquired from actuality able to aftermath our own record, with there actuality assertive songs area no-one affected it but us, is article that I hope carries on to the abutting almanac as well.”
Their best hands-on activity yet additionally after-effects in yet addition brain-melting arrangement of genres, Tyler proudly anecdotic a “carefree fearlessness” to assertive moments on the LP. In fact, comparing Choker to one of Scaled And Icy’s standout advance – which we’ve got to accumulate beneath wraps for now – the frontman marvels, “For those two songs to alive on the aforementioned almanac is crazy to me! And it alone speaks to Josh and I’s maturity, and aloof the advanced anchorage of our spectrum of who we are as a band and the time that we accept beneath our belt in our career.”
This maturity, however, didn’t access in the best straightforward way…
Time. Perspective. Separation. These are all words Tyler Joseph uses to reflect on the differences amid the conception of Trench and Scaled And Icy. Unlike its predecessor, he says, SAI was accounting afterwards the charge to “compensate”. You see, afterwards Blurryface’s awe-inspiring success, there had been a abundant weight blind over twenty one pilots’ heads. Tyler hadn’t alike absolutely captivated its acceptation at first.
“There was a moment in [the aeon for] Blurryface with [mega-hits] Stressed Out and Ride, and again [Suicide Squad single] Heathens, area there were bodies who listened to our music that we didn’t recognise – and aback I say ‘recognise’, I don’t beggarly actually recognise, but aback we would collaborate with them, it’s like, ‘I don’t recognise you actuality a fan of ours,’” the frontman remembers. “And not that we animosity them for it, but I felt like with that there was a need to present Trench in a way that it about carefully alienated assertive bodies from our music.
“I don’t anticipate that while autograph Trench, I was like, ‘We’ve got an alienate ourselves from those bodies and actualize article that alone our admirers are activity to enjoy,’” he adds. “But, attractive back, I can see how that may accept been a motivation, and was the adversary to the accomplished conception action – which is not a bad thing. I think that with accepting article to advance against, that abrasion can actualize article great. And I’m still very, actual beholden of it.”
There are affluence of examples throughout history of artists alienated with colossal success who accept accomplished some anatomy of a pivot to a different administration – from Nirvana to Pearl Jam. In fact, Tyler approved – and clearly bootless – not to do that himself…
“Looking back, it still happened,” he laughs. “That’s how able that affect is, aback all of a sudden, on a global, massive scale, bodies are belief in on whether or not they anticipate you’re good. That can absolutely appulse you in agency that you don’t alike realise, until you look back.”
“At the aforementioned time, though,” Josh reasons, “there was a feeling of a little bit of rebellion, of the adequation aspect that we capital to advance abroad from, but aggravating to additionally accumulate in apperception that we’ve had some of our favourite bands aloof go and fully, actually change their complete or their appearance afterwards a big record, and that can be annoying, and it can be arresting as a fan! We actually didn’t appetite to angular too far in that direction.”
“Discovering a band that you abatement in adulation with is one of the best appropriate things. It’s boxy to carbon that antecedent activity of discovery”
Listen to Josh Dun acknowledge his hopes for Scaled And Icy, and how admirers adeptness accept it
Scaled And Icy, then, seems to avowal the absolute equilibrium: it finds twenty one pilots compassionate their place, themselves, and anniversary added added cohesively than ever before.
“I’ll aloof watch Tyler sit bottomward at a piano, and he gravitates against arena article that is accessible to accept to, and sounds great,” Josh cool of his bandmate’s process. “But I think he additionally [forces himself] to bandy in, like, a darker, accessory ambit in there; that affection to asperous things up a little bit, or breach the edges. And I’ve consistently enjoyed that, and I’ve consistently absolutely acquainted like that’s necessary. I think we’ve both aggregate some of those alienated animosity of aloof not absent to be predicted in some ways, but [still] befitting the candor of what we’ve consistently been about and how we consistently appetite to access music stylistically.”
“And to piggyback off that,” continues Tyler, “a lot of added songwriters appear in with article that is actual odd, weird, affectionate of unrefined, and aloof gnarly, and again they accept to do things to it to trim the fat and flash it up. Me as a songwriter, I come in over actuality area the abstraction is actual straightforward; it’s actual agleam already, with about aught birthmark to it. And again I like to do things to again accord it that character, and accord it a few flaws and that individuality. Josh watches that action – area I try to accompany it aback to the centre – and he’s consistently saying, ‘Don’t breach it up too much. Don’t ruin this too abundant now.’ Because I’m consistently abashed about bringing article to the table that’s too simple. We’ve got a great dance, and our allure has been great. And I’ve abstruse not to be abashed of that actuality who I am as a songwriter, and Josh has helped me realise that.”
Enjoying the present, aflame for the future, and – crucially – beholden of the past. Tyler and Josh are in a great atom appropriate now, and it all stems aback to that disgusting angel of Choker actuality the band’s beholden “rash”.
“I adulation the old actuality now added than ever,” Tyler smiles. “I’ve consistently beheld it as a timestamp of who I was, and what we were doing, and area we were in our career and the types of shows we were playing. I look aback on old songs, and I guess I’ve accomplished abundant to alone see the acceptable in it, and not alone see the bad in it. And with that newfound adeptness will appear the adeptness to address songs that still accept that sentiment.
“I’m so at peace.”
Scaled And Icy is due out on May 21 via Fueled By Ramen. twenty one pilots will be assuming a global livestream accident on the aforementioned day as the album release.
Click the button beneath to download your print-at-home Kerrang! cover, smartphone wallpapers and more.
How To Write Songs Like Twenty One Pilots – How To Write Songs Like Twenty One Pilots
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