Twenty One Pilots performed at Bonnaroo Festival over the weekend, marking the start of the ‘Blurryface’ world tour. With a summer of festivals ahead of them before a homecoming parade of headline shows across the US and Europe, including a show at London’s O2 Brixton Academy next February, they’re constantly moving forward.
“We were really heavily focused on what the songs will look like live,” says Tyler Joseph of the record. “I’m really excited for everyone to be on the same page as us.”
“I remember the first time we sat down with our booking agent we said, ‘Put us on the road and never take us off,’ and they’ve taken that very seriously,” laughs Josh Dun.
“We love talking about the past, it’s one of our favourite things to do on tour,” starts Tyler. “‘Do you remember when we set up our own gear?’ ’Do you remember when we played in front of nobody?’ We’re lucky we didn’t have to trudge through the crap and mud that a lot of bands have to, for as long as they’ve had to. We did it for a couple of years and were able to get out the other side but I’m so glad we made that journey. We’ve always been able to look back and appreciate where we’ve come from,” he reasons.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the way Josh and I have approached live shows from the beginning,” continues Tyler. “It’s so impactful when there’s thousands of people in a room all moving to a band leading them in how crazy they’re allowed to be,” he explains before a pause. ”But it’s almost just as impactful for there to be five people in a room and the band being just as energetic, so we’ve always just let it all out.”
“It’s definitely draining,” Tyler admits. “We try to exhaust whatever we have physically every night. Not only do the people there deserve it but we really use that moment to just shake everything out. I’d much rather be singing about these personal moment, where I’m working through something, than some of the content that’s out there that doesn’t have any meaning. I think it would be much more draining to sing a song you didn’t care about every night than sing a song that means a lot to you.”
“Festivals are our favourite event of all time,” declares Tyler. “We get to be competitive,” Josh adds with a smile. “There’s certain skills that some bands don’t try and learn and one of them is reading the room. ‘Who knows who we are?’ Seriously. Ask yourself that question. Don’t assume everyone knows who you are or what songs you’re playing. Maybe they haven’t heard of you and they’ve just found themselves there. You have to start from the ground and work your way up and hopefully, by the end of the set, you’ve got everyone with you. I feel like one day I want to write a book on how not to put on a set. We’ve learnt a lot about what we don’t want to do at festivals. They’ve become our favourite time to learn and to get better,” Tyler says before adding “and to outperform everyone else.”
“But then we transition into our headline thing which is a whole different experience for us. They’re both just so much fun. For us, it all comes together and makes sense when you experience it live. I’d just tell people, if you could ever get down to a show, that’s where we’d want you to be. Face to face.”
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett / Upset