That showed pretty clearly on August 30 when twenty one pilots performed album tracks Heavydirtysoul and Lane Boy at the MTV VMAs in LA to 9.8 million people viewing at home, and a room that contained Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj. Onstage, they fit right in. Interviewed offstage, however, they seemed hopelessly perplexed by the whole shebang.
They laugh when you point that out…
“When Josh and I first talked about pursuing our dreams of becoming successful musicians, we knew fame would naturally come with that dream,” explains Tyler. “But fame was never the dream itself. In our own way, we checked ourselves and said, ‘Yes, if it comes to it, we have what it takes to deal with fame – to handle it and have our identity rooted in fame.’ Josh and I have our heads screwed on. We thought we were ready for this.”
And were you?
“I realised I’m not nearly as prepared or built to be under that microscope as I thought I was,” he sighs. “We want people to hear our music, but we don’t want to sacrifice who we are to get that.”
Do you feel like you’re in danger of doing that?
“I think about that a lot,” reveals Josh. “Every last person who follows me on Twitter follows me because of this band. I live where I live because of this band. My day revolves around what I do… But is that my identity? If this thing falls apart tomorrow and that’s my identity, then who am I? To be able to keep that perspective sometimes brings things down a couple of notches.”
This sums up life for twenty one pilots on the road right now. They don’t spend their time pooping in plush bathrooms – they spend it thinking about how they can remain the same guys who first bonded over dreams of playing music. Fortunately, there’s one place they can go to rediscover this: Columbus, Ohio – a.k.a. Home. And that just so happens to be where the tour’s heading next.
“My mom’s calling like, ‘Hey, what can I do?’ and I’m like, ‘There’s nothing to do! Columbus already sold out, just come to the show!’” beams Tyler.
First, though, the pair must attend to the second consecutive sold-out night at the Ballroom. In less than an hour, the pair are onstage bathed in blaring lights and flanked by dancing men in Hazmat suits. Oh, and Josh is on his patented ‘drum-kit island’ that floats on the hands of the front row while he’s playing it.
As you do…