The Beatles, Elvis Presley...and Twenty One Pilots. Just let that sink in for a moment. With “Heathens” ensconced at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Ride” nipping at its heels at No. 5, the Ohio alternative rockers join the long-reigning sovereigns of popular music as the only rock acts to ever have two singles in the top five concurrently. And with the two tunes holding down the top spots on the Pop Songs (“Ride”) and Alternative Songs (“Heathens”) charts at the same time, Twenty One Pilots becomes the first member of an even more exclusive fraternity. Before hitting the lottery with the twin singles, no one in the history of popular music had ever topped the charts simultaneously with two different songs.
No matter how you slice it, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are on a pretty tasty roll. Along with the two massive hits and a best-selling album (Blurryface), the alternative duo won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video on Aug. 28 for “Ride” and continues to play to sold-out audiences across the globe on their Emotional Roadshow Tour. With the year they’re having, don’t be surprised if Disneyland names an attraction after the rockers…something along the lines of Mr. Pilots’ Wild Ride.
Lead vocalist and keyboardist Joseph founded Twenty One Pilots in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio along with former members Nick Thomas and Chris Salih, both of whom left in 2011. But it wasn’t until Joseph teamed with frenetic drummer Josh Dun after Thomas and Salih left, that the Pilots took off. The new lineup teamed up for the Pilots’ second release, Regional at Best (2011), caught the attention of salivating record labels and the rest, they say, is history.
Pilots followed up with the platinum-selling Vessel (2013) and their multi-platinum, chart topping fourth album, Blurryface (2015) which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S. to date. Blurryface was named the Top Rock Album at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, garnering the band the Top Rock Artist award.
Concertgoers may struggle to describe Twenty One Pilots’ music – this concertgoer certainly does. Think “barely controlled chaos” or better yet, “schizophrenic pop.” Whatever you call it, music fans needn’t worry about falling asleep at one of the frenzied gigs. Just listen to the Pilots’ “Ode to Sleep” – “I'll stay awake, 'Cause the dark's not taking prisoners tonight.” The twosome brings a mix – and we do mean mix – of piano (along with an electronic keyboard or a keytar), synthesizer, drums (at times mixed with electronic drums), percussion, vocals and the random ukulele.
Twenty One Pilots' music may be difficult to describe. But you can bet the farm that a year from now, we’ll be describing the duo as Grammy winners.