For those who don’t know me it is probably weird for me to say Josh Dun is my friend. But, tis true. At one point in my life I was a youth pastor and Josh was the drummer in the worship band. I don’t remember how we hit off so easily but we did. He was always kind and gracious, especially to students. That makeup of kindness in his fame is a reflection of who he is.
Josh has been a supporter of my mission of justice by way of coffee from day one. Maybe someday we can write a post together about that. You can check out his thoughts on The Roosevelt Coffeehouse here.
Fun private show at the shop in 2016?
This past year I ranked Twenty One Pilots album Scaled and Icy number three for 2021. It truly was an odd pick in regards to my own personal tastes. It is not my favorite TOP album. Because of my history with their music, that will always be Regional At Best. But, as I shared in my review of S&I, I found this album to be pitch perfect pop music. When I reached out to Josh I was looking for his perspective on the changes reflected on this album including adding band members and being a musician in a pandemic.
Tell me how you feel about this record as compared to others. What excites you and what do you see differently?
I feel that this record truly embodies who we are, as musicians and as a band. This record is fully twenty one pilots. Historically, we have walked into a studio with the songs 80-90% finished and utilized a producer to bring it all together at the end; this time around, we really didn’t rely on that very much. We worked together in a pretty isolated way in our home studios to do this one, a lot of that being because of logistics with the pandemic. That was both liberating creatively and presented its own challenges. I really love this record and I loved the process of making it and of course every song takes a different shape on stage as well.
What led to adding members to the band?
This idea is actually something we have had conversations about for quite some time now. I’ve played in bands with 3 or 4 other people before, but this is Tyler’s first band experience. He’s never really known what it’s like to perform music with a group entity dynamic on stage, so this has been a nice scratch for that itch. Being a two-person band can actually present its own difficulties logistically on stage and with some new sounds and instruments on this album it actually felt like a good time to experiment and implement some other bodies/instruments live. It’s really added a nice energy and chemistry to the stage that we haven’t really experienced before.
How has it felt performing in the new conditions of the pandemic?
We just completed what we called “The Takeover Tour” where we played in a number of cities throughout the US for a week at a time. Starting in a small club and working our way up to the arena. It was a blast to do but also terrifying the whole way through because we realized that at any moment, any one of us or our crucial crew members could get hit with covid and shut down/postpone the entire thing. Somehow we made it all the way through but we were holding our breath the whole time. It really felt amazing to be back in a room with people, knowing that we’ve all been craving this moment for so long. I’ve always absolutely loved playing music live, and never really took it for granted, but realized with this especially that sometimes inevitably you can go through whatever moment you’re in and not cherish the beautiful things about it. This tour really put that into perspective for me. Made me be in every single moment with gratitude for what was happening right then and there. That perspective really carries through to everyday life for me as well. I feel particularly grateful for music, health, mobility, love, family, coffee 😉 and so on
When you and Tyler collaborate on songwriting who is most likely to text the other with inspiration in the middle of night?
Middle of the night? That’s Tyler’s time to shine. And I love those conversations. Most of our creative conversations usually are late at night for some reason. Don’t know why that is but there’s something about the night that leads to creativity.
Most recent book you read that you would recommend?
To be honest I’m not sure if I’ve even read a book since high school. I would like to change that. I always think about reading a book, and then I never do. I accidentally listened to 25 minutes of an audio book with my wife in the car a couple weeks ago if that counts. She was listening to “blink”. I thought she meant blink 182 but it was a book by Malcom Gladwell instead so she kinda tricked me into the whole book thing. If I ever need to learn something it’s usually on YouTube. That’s actually how I learned how to play the drums. Watched hours and hours of drumming on YouTube and then tried to imitate and put my own personality into it. Drummer World was another great resource that I used. I clicked on a random drummer and then would just study them, find the things about their playing that I loved, and would implement a version of that into my style of drumming.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take ten albums, name two off the top of your head you will be taking.
Narrow Stairs by Death Cab For Cutie would absolutely go with me.
Self titled album by blink 182 would go with me too. The other day I was just remembering when I was in high school if I felt anxious or nervous or upset about something, or have to drive to a job interview or *gasp* a date with a girl or something, I would put on that album and it would put me in some kind of euphoric mindset where I felt like I could conquer anything. Something about the attitude of that album could transform a state of mind. I really felt the power of what music could do to you around that time in my life. It happened with a lot of bands/albums, but that was the kick-starter for me.
What do you love about being married to Debby you never saw coming?
Being absolute best friends. I always tried to envision what marriage would look like from when I was a kid, and it never really looked quite like this. When I was young I felt like my parents were just so grown up. Debby and I are just kids. We live in an adult house and decorate it like kids and do kid stuff in it. We couldn’t sleep the other night so we just hung out in the kitchen and jumped around and ate snacks. I bet my parents did that stuff too probably but I never saw it and never knew this is what marriage could be like. She’s also an amazing cook, which I never knew until we got married somehow. So that was a great surprise upon entering marriage.
As a friend I am biased here, but one of the beauties of Twenty One Pilots is your lack of ego. Fans feel connected to you because you see them as family. Elaborate on that from your perspective.
Thanks for saying that. I too think we are the absolute best at being non-ego driven. We’re amazing at it (joke obviously). I guess I don’t really know. I don’t think about that all that much. Tyler and I both grew up right here in Columbus, and also have a lot of friends who are amazing musicians/artists/poets/humans, and feel like we’ve really worked hard and created something we’re very proud of, but also in no way feel like we’re superior humans to anyone. We’re people, just like everyone else. Also understanding that if the people who have been on this journey with us and bought or streamed our album or played our songs on their radio stations or come to our shows or interview us haven’t done those things or been around with us, we wouldn’t be where we are. It’s a team effort.
Any last words?
I’m thankful to be in a band as a career. It’s my favorite thing in the world. As I just said before, I’m grateful for a lot of things right now, but especially grateful for people who have stuck around this thing for a while. Who have shared our music with a friend or family member and gotten them into this as well. I’m grateful for my friends who have shown me some of my favorite artists that I still listen to today and so when people tell their friends about my band it’s a big deal to me.