By John Benson
Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun has a hard time describing the amalgamative sound his Columbus-based band has become known for over the past few years.
“I still don’t know how to answer the question about our sound,” said Dun, calling from Los Angeles. “Early on, we played such a vast array of different venues and artists: the hard-core scene, heavier rock and grungiest hip-hop basement shows.
“I remember every single one of those feeling that somehow it worked, and how that really didn’t make sense to me because I was always kind of used to sticking to one sort of genre.”
Pop, rock and rap are all tags accurately describing Twenty One Pilots, which was formed in 2009 and features Dun as well as Tyler Joseph (vocals, keyboards, synth). After incessantly touring the Midwest, the duo two years later landed on the indie map with the release of debut album, “Regional at Best.”
Next came 2013’s “Vessel” and its singles “House of Gold” and “Car Radio.” Twenty One Pilots quickly gained status as a buzz band, having been nominated for MTV’s “Artist To Watch Award” and named as “100 Bands You Need To Know in 2013” by Alternative Press.
The outfit’s fanbase grew steadily when Palladia aired “Live from the LC concert,” which was filmed at their hometown venue the LC Pavilion. From there, the group hit the road last fall for dozens of shows with more than 40,000 tickets sold.
This year the band’s star continues to rise with memorable performances of “Car Radio” on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” at the 2014 “MTV Movie Awards” and at the Alternative Press Music Awards in Cleveland.
In fact, it’s the latter date that in some ways acted as the band’s stand-out moment when Joseph epitomized the adventurous spirit of the summer evening while simultaneously wowing concert and television audiences by climbing the concert stage rigging to dangerous heights.
“It’s interesting; Tyler and I have been friends for a long time,” Dun said. “I remember one of the first things we did when we started hanging out was to walk around Columbus and climb on top of supermarkets or different buildings. So I don’t fear for him; I know he has the ability.”
That said, you won’t find Dun following his singer up a truss. In fact, he said watching a recent video of Tyler, who had a GoPro camera attached to a harness during one of his concert-climbing exercises, left him with vertigolike symptoms of sweating palms and feeling anxious.
However, not to be outdone by his bandmate, Dun has his own extreme concert moment.
“Yeah, we put together a little smaller version of my drum kit attached to a board that can go out into the crowd and people can hold up while I play drums,” Dun said. “It’s been really cool. I’ve never seen it done before. I think people are excited to be a part of something and not just stand there and watch. It’s a really fun moment.”
Invariably, his crowd surfing drum kit is safer than climbing up a truss 40 feet above a stage.
Dun laughed, “That’s right. I feel no real danger 6 feet above the ground.”