Twenty One Pilots became the third rock act to have two singles simultaneously chart in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, joining the Beatles and Elvis Presley, in addition to becoming the third duo to accomplish this feat, after Outkast in 2003 and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ten years later.
Joseph began playing music after finding an old keyboard in his closet, a Christmas gift from his mother, and started mimicking radio melodies. In 2007, Joseph recorded a solo album, No Phun Intended, in his parent's basement. Thomas contributed guitar to several songs on the album, and collaborated on the track "Trees", which would later become a signature Twenty One Pilots song.
Twenty One Pilots (stylized in all lowercase or as twenty øne piløts) is an American musical duo from Columbus, Ohio. The band was formed in 2009 by lead vocalist Tyler Joseph along with Nick Thomas and Chris Salih, both of whom left in 2011. Since their departure, the line-up has consisted of Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. The duo is best known for the singles "Stressed Out", "Ride", and "Heathens". The group received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards for "Stressed Out". The band independently released two albums, Twenty One Pilots (2009) and Regional at Best (2011), before being signed by record label Fueled by Ramen in 2012. Their label debut, Vessel, was released in 2013 and became the second album in history on which every track received at least a gold certification, making Twenty One Pilots the first band in the history of music to see every song on two albums earn gold or platinum awards.
While attending Ohio State University, Joseph met Texas-born future bandmate Chris Salih at a party. Noting the songwriter's talent and creative energy, Salih consulted Joseph about starting a band. Impressed by the recording studio Salih had built in his house, Joseph agreed to play music together and began sharing his ideas for new music. Just before their first performance, Joseph invited Thomas to join the unnamed band as a bassist. In 2009, the group moved into a house of their own, where their first album was conceptualized and recorded in the basement.
Now going by the name Twenty One Pilots, the group released their debut, self-titled album, Twenty One Pilots, on December 29, 2009, and began touring Ohio. Their initial marketing was grassroots; Joseph's mother would stand outside of Ohio State University giving away tickets to his shows. During this time, the band participated in "Battle of the Band" contests at The Alrosa Villa and The Basement, important Columbus music venues.
In 2010, the band posted two tracks to their SoundCloud account, a cover of "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri and a remixed interpretation of "Con te partirò (Time to Say Goodbye)" by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. The latter track would become the first song local drummer Josh Dun heard from the group.
Joseph, Dun, and Salih participated in musical efforts of a Columbus, Ohio, church Five14. They contributed to four of fourteen tracks for their album Clear, with Travis Whittaker and the gospel band "New Albany Music." In 2011, Joseph appeared in a three-part video called "The (moderately inspiring tale of the) Longboard Rodeo Tango", and sang "O come, O come, Emmanuel" in another video, Christmas With the Stars.
Salih left on May 8, 2011 to focus on work, and Thomas left the next month on June 3, 2011 to focus on schooling, both posting farewell notes on the band's official Facebook page. Before departing the project, Salih invited Guitar Center co-worker and friend of the group Josh Dun (former touring drummer for House of Heroes), to take his place in the band. Impressed by the band's potential and Joseph's creative vision, Dun abandoned plans to pursue drumming in Nashville and joined the project only a few weeks before Thomas left the group.
With a new lineup consisting of only Joseph and Dun, Twenty One Pilots self-released their second album, Regional at Best, on July 8, 2011. The album was accompanied by a free CD release show on the grounds of New Albany High School. While Salih and Thomas were involved with the conceptualization of the album, neither they nor Dun claim to have had much involvement with its production, which was handled nearly exclusively by Joseph. The album features Joseph's brother Zack on the track "Kitchen Sink" and Joseph's college acquaintance Jocef on the track "Be Concerned".
In November 2011, after months of cultivating a fan base in the Columbus area via social media interaction and constant touring, the band played a sold-out concert at Columbus' Newport Music Hall. This notable accomplishment for an unsigned local group caught the attention of several record labels interested in seeing if the band's appeal could stretch outside of Ohio. That same year, the duo put out two free songs via their email newsletter: the original version of "House of Gold" and "Two".
Tyler Joseph successfully negotiated to maintain ownership of the preceding self-titled album, which remains available digitally. However, as part of a signing agreement in 2012 with record label Fueled by Ramen, rights to Regional at Best were transferred to the label, meaning that Regional at Best was discontinued and removed from digital markets. Regional at Best tracks "Slowtown", "Anathema", "Ruby", "Be Concerned", and "Clear" have since been made commercially unavailable, and physical copies of the album are now rare and highly sought after.
In April 2012, the band announced their signing to Atlantic Records subsidiary Fueled by Ramen, the label responsible for the commercial success of popular alternative artists like Panic! at the Disco and Paramore, during a sold-out show at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion. On July 17, 2012, they released their debut Fueled by Ramen recording, an EP entitled Three Songs. The next month, the band embarked on a short tour with Neon Trees and Walk the Moon.
On November 12, 2012, the official music video for "Holding on to You", directed by Jordan Bahat, was released on YouTube. On January 7 and April 19, 2013, the band released music videos for "Guns for Hands" and "Car Radio", respectively, both directed by Mark Eshleman of Reel Bear Media.
Twenty One Pilots' third album, Vessel, was released January 8, 2013; it would reach No. 21 on the Billboard 200, No. 9 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. The band's first charting single, "Holding on to You", reached No. 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.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Joseph described Regional at Best as a "glorified mixtape" and confirmed that songs from that project would reappear on their major label debut studio album. Ultimately, five tracks from Regional at Best – "Guns for Hands", "Holding on to You", "Ode to Sleep", "Car Radio", and "Trees" – were re-recorded and released for their third album. "Lovely" was also re-recorded and released as a single in Japan on April 17, 2013. "Glowing Eyes", "Kitchen Sink", and "Forest" appeared unchanged as bonus tracks on the UK version of Vessel.
In May 2013, Twenty One Pilots were announced to join Fall Out Boy as opening acts on their Save Rock and Roll Arena Tour, along with Panic! at the Disco, also serving as opening acts.
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 onto YouTube.
In 2014, Twenty One Pilots played a number of music festivals and other events around the United States, such as Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Boston Calling, and Firefly. Requests from many of these cities were incorporated into the band's first headlining tour, the Quiet Is Violent World Tour, which began in September 2014 and ended in November of the same year.
On March 17, 2014, Twenty One Pilots performed a set at the MTVU Woodie Awards during SXSW. On April 13, Twenty One Pilots performed "Car Radio" at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards. On April 28, the band performed "Car Radio" on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
On December 31, 2014, the band released a music video for the song "Ode to Sleep". Composed of footage captured by band creative director Mark Eshleman from three concerts over the preceding three years, the video depicted the band's rapid growth from their origins as a small local band to a nationally popular alternative act, an upward trend that would continue into the next album cycle.
On March 16, 2015, the band announced that a new album, Blurryface, was to be released on May 19. They released the first single, "Fairly Local", on March 17. Their second single of the album, "Tear in My Heart", and its music video were released on April 5, 2015. On April 28, "Stressed Out", the third single from the album, was released along with a music video. "Stressed Out" became the group's highest selling single, peaking at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on both Alternative Songs and Hot Rock Songs charts, while also surpassing one billion views on YouTube.
The band began the Blurryface Tour on May 11, 2015, in Glasgow, Scotland. The tour spanned the United States, Australia, Asia, and Europe. The U.S. leg began September 8, 2015 and featured Echosmith and Finish Ticket as openers. Twenty One Pilots performed "Stressed Out" on Late Night with Seth Meyers on September 14, 2015. The band announced a London show in February 2016, and later announced a run of UK dates, with a second London date added. The band Transviolet served as openers. This run of UK dates ended the initial Blurryface Tour.
Blurryface was released two days early on May 17, 2015 and sold 134,000 copies in the first week in the U.S. which made it the band's first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. On May 22, 2016, Blurryface won in the category of "Top Rock Album" at the Billboard Music Awards, while the band won the category of "Top Rock Artist".
Soon after, the band announced a second tour for the Blurryface album, the Emotional Roadshow World Tour, which started in Cincinnati on May 31, 2016. The tour covered the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Australia. Chef'Special and Mutemath opened for the American leg. Irish singer Bry joined the tour for its European leg.
On June 16, 2016, the band released the song "Heathens" as the first single from the Suicide Squad soundtrack, earlier than the expected release date of June 24, after the song leaked onto the internet on June 15. A music video for the song was released on June 21, 2016. "Heathens" plays during the ending credits of the film.
In September 2016, the band contributed a cover of the piano ballad "Cancer" by My Chemical Romance to the tribute album Rock Sound Presents: The Black Parade. An animated lyric video followed the release of the song.
Twenty One Pilots featured as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on October 8, 2016, performing orchestra-accompanied versions of "Heathens" and "Ride" in what Rolling Stone called their "most high profile performance yet". The band later performed a medley of "Heathens" and "Stressed Out" on the American Music Awards of 2016, where they also accepted their first awards on American television for Favorite Pop/Rock Duo and Favorite Alternative Rock Artist. On November 25, 2016, the band released a limited-edition live vinyl album documenting two performances at Fox Oakland Theatre, on the duo's 2015 Blurryface Tour under the name Blurryface Live.
In an interview with Alternative Press in November 2016, Twenty One Pilots stated that after their last show, they will be "going dark" to focus on new music. Joseph stated that he would like to focus on lyrical content of the music, and bring the music back to the "authenticity, lyrics, delivery, and fearlessness of songwriting" similar to that of the self-titled album. The band's last activity came in July 2017 in the form of posts on social media depicting an eye closing over lyrics from several of their songs.
The band's fandom has been dubbed as the "Skeleton Clique" or just the Clique, in reference to the band's use of skeleton iconography in many performances, graphics, and music videos. The Skeleton Clique are represented in the band's official iconography by logos of a skull and alien head atop lines resembling keys. In November 2016, during the Blurryface World Tour, the Wood Green tube station in London was decorated in Clique-related artwork, spanning over one-hundred advertising panels. During the 2017 Tour De Columbus, Twenty One Pilots hosted a public art show, dubbed "Artøpia", exclusively for Clique-related artwork at the Nationwide Arena in the United States.
On February 12, 2017, Twenty One Pilots won a Grammy Award for "Stressed Out" in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category. The band stripped to their underwear before taking the stage, with Joseph claiming in their acceptance speech that this was a fulfillment of a promise the duo had made each other in their early days as a local Columbus band.
On March 27, 2017, the band began selling tickets for Tour De Columbus, a five-date hometown tour taking place in June 2017. The duo performed at several small venues they first played as a local band including The Basement, Newport Music Hall, and Express Live!, before ending their tour cycle with arena shows at Nationwide Arena and Value City Arena.
In 2018, a new logo was unveiled for Trench's release. An extra slash on each side was added to the previous logo. The color scheme was changed to yellow for the shapes with a solid black background, thus coordinating with the color scheme for the album's cover art. Joseph explained that, "If you were to look at those two logos that we had done in the past, and put it together, it would create a logo that is two upward slashes and two sideways slashes. It's kind of a continuation of what we've been working on." He further explained that the extra slashes represent "the feeling of being surrounded by something that's protecting you... I knew I wanted that logo to have those extra layers of protection".
In March 2018, their song "Hometown" received a gold certification from the RIAA, making Blurryface the first full-length album to have every track achieve at least gold certification.
In April 2018, a cryptic message was uncovered on the band's web store, which revealed a website. Fans began using clues and found other sections of this site, hinting at the possibility of the band's return. There were multiple images uploaded to the website, including letters from a character named "Clancy". In July 2018, Twenty One Pilots broke their year-long silence, first sending a cryptic email to fans and later posting a video to all social media platforms and updating their logo and branding. Tyler Joseph made his first media appearance in over a year for an interview with Zane Lowe of Beats 1 from his home studio in Columbus, Ohio, in which he spoke about the band's year long hiatus, creating the new album, and battling against personal demons and insecurities.
On July 11, 2018, the band released two new songs, "Jumpsuit" and "Nico and the Niners", as well as the music video for "Jumpsuit". They also made the announcement of their fifth studio album, Trench, scheduled to be released on October 5, 2018, and a new world tour, titled "The Bandito Tour", starting October 16. Later, on July 26, 2018, the music video for "Nico and the Niners" was released. The song "Levitate" was subsequently released as the album's third single via Zane Lowe's Beats 1 show as the day's "World Record". The music video was also released, concluding the trilogy series.
On August 20, 2018, at the MTV VMAs, a ten second long snippet of the song "My Blood" was played at the end of a commercial promoting the album. On August 27, 2018, the band made "My Blood" available on streaming services as the album's fourth official single. Twenty One Pilots released their fifth album, Trench, on October 5, 2018. On the same day, they released the music video for their single "My Blood" on their YouTube channel. Trench debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts. All 14 tracks from the album charted in the top 25 of the Hot Rock Songs chart, where five tracks were in the top 10.
On September 12, 2018, Twenty One Pilots played their first live show in over a year, titled A Complete Diversion, at O2 Brixton Academy in London. They performed the four released songs from Trench, as well as some songs from their previous albums, to promote the album and the upcoming The Bandito Tour. Twenty One Pilots performed their single "Jumpsuit" at the 2018 American Music Awards on October 9, at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. On November 1, the band performed stripped-down versions of "My Blood" and "Ride", as well as covered Damien Rice's "9 Crimes", in BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge. BBC Radio 1 visited the band in their hometown and filmed the session at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio, for the kickoff of the Live Lounge Month, a month-long series of performances from different artists.
The duo's fifth studio album, Trench, was released on October 5, 2018. Their sixth studio album, Scaled and Icy, is set to be released on May 21, 2021.
On June 19, 2019, a re-imagined version of "Chlorine", titled "Chlorine (19.4326° N, 99.1332° W)", was released. It is the first song to be released from the Løcatiøn Sessiøns. Other songs in the series will include "Ride", "Smithereens", "My Blood" and "Cut My Lip". In 2019, Nationwide Boulevard in Columbus, Ohio was temporarily renamed to Twenty One Pilots Boulevard to celebrate two hometown shows at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, where the band also opened up a pop-up shop named "Ned's Bayou".
On January 22, 2019, the music video for "Chlorine" was uploaded to YouTube upon the song's release as a single and was directed by Mark C. Eshleman of Reel Bear Media, featuring an alien-like creature named "Ned". The band headlined a number of festivals in the summer of 2019, including Reading and Leeds and Lollapalooza.
On March 4, 2019, five months after the release of their third studio album Trench, the band confirmed that they were working on their next studio album. About the possible theme, frontman Tyler Joseph said, "there's a character that hasn't been talked about on any record yet that plays a huge role in the narrative that obviously will need to be talked about and it's probably where we're going next". On April 9, 2020, the duo released the song "Level of Concern", which marked the first musical output by the duo since the release of Trench.
On March 4, 2019, the band revealed to NME that they were already starting the writing process for their sixth studio album, mentioning a character that has not appeared in any Twenty One Pilots-related material yet.
On July 16, 2019, the song "The Hype" was sent to US alternative radio as the sixth single from the album Trench.
On April 9, 2020, the band released a new single "Level of Concern". The song's lyrics reference the anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic, and its accompanying music video was filmed in Joseph and Dun's homes while they were under lockdown due to the pandemic. Joseph directed a portion of the song's proceeds to Crew Nation, a charity for live music crews who cannot be paid during the international quarantine.
In November 2020, Josh Dun revealed that they were still working "remotely" on the album, with both members being in different locations during the time. He describes the recording process, "we both have our own studios, which is really nice, so he comes up with a lot of stuff at his studio, sends it over to me, and then I come up with some stuff here at my studio and then send it back". They began teasing the era in January 2021. The album was first teased on April 6, 2021 through dmaorg.info — a website the band uses to share background stories and lore — via a poster including the text "New Album and Livestream Experience". The album was officially announced by the band a day later. The lead single "Shy Away" was released the same day, along with a music video.
On December 8, 2020, the band released a new single, "Christmas Saves the Year", following a Twitch stream by Tyler Joseph.
The duo's sixth studio album, Scaled and Icy, is set to be released on May 21, 2021. The album's name is an anagram, which spells out "Clancy is dead".