February 24, 2014

Life Beyond The Stage With Twenty One Pilots

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I was asked by the internet sensation, handsome man, twitter phenom Rob Fee to write some words about where the journey of music can take you, aside from what it looks like from a stage. Not to go on and on about Rob, but the reason I started following him on social media in the first place is because of the way he utilizes social platforms. It’s often hard for me to follow other musicians online because typically it’s all the same type of stuff. “You ready Dallas? Let’s get crazy!” Send. Tweet. NO! I DONT LIVE IN DALLAS OR ANYWHERE NEAR THERE, I DON’T CARE! It’s either that or something like “gettin hammered with billy on our day off.” I guess if that’s the insight that you want us to have on your tour life, or life in general, then that’s cool for you, but don’t expect a follow from me. With that being said, I’ll be the first to admit: twitter is hard. At any stage in life, whatever your job, however amount of followers you have, it’s crazy difficult to portray yourself online with the struggle of a pull of what people want to hear from you mixed with what you actually want to say. There’s a fine balance, but I know that as someone who travels a lot, I turn to twitter and instagram the most to try and feel/stay connected with friends and family…and if not that, then at least to have some good laughs. I think maybe that’s mostly where I get my criticism from; sitting in a van or a bus for hours at a time switching back and forth between social media apps on my phone and reading about how Doug is going to the supermarket and I just don’t care. Anyway, enough on that.

I suppose I should’ve at least explained who I am before sharing my frustrations about the majority of people on the internet. My name is Josh Dun and I play drums in a band called twenty one pilots. I get to travel around and play music with my best friends (although there are only two of us in the band), and see the world and eat strange things. Since there are only two of us in the band, we try to be as energetic as possible on stage, but only with the help of whoever is in the room with us. The best way I can describe touring is something that my friend Matt Johnson from the band Matt & Kim was saying to me. You wait around for 22 hours in a day for 2 hours on stage. That’s what it’s about, the time that you have in a room full of people to share songs with them and see if they resonate with others. The exciting part is when they do resonate, and want to be a part of it with you.

When it comes to a day to day life on the road in a touring band, often the schedule can get monotonous, tiring, or frustrating. Then there are the times where you just have no idea what to do with yourself.  It’s tempting to sleep in until three o’clock, then sit around on the bus and watch movies, or sit in a dressing room sucking down some sweet nectarous wifi. But it’s in those moments that I realize, before I know it, I’m going to be 55 and my kids friends are going to ask me what traveling around the world was like. Do I really want to tell them my favorite dressing room? Or my favorite Taco Bell I sat in? Not really. I’d like to have stories from different cities, photos of different people and things, new friends all over the world, pointers or tips on what to eat/drink in different places. Every day, whether it’s snowing, raining, or the heavens are shining upon me, I walk around every city and explore and try to talk to local people about what’s cool in their city, and also what the best local coffee is.

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A lot of people, I’m sure, have the assumption that being in a band is the easiest thing in the world. Sometimes I agree, but maybe it’s just because I love it so much. From the very beginning of this journey, Tyler and I have shared in a specific vision of what we want this thing to look like, and with that comes work, time and effort into making those things exactly how we want them. Then we signed with a label. I think that’s where a lot of people think that that’s the time when the band gets to stop working. Actually it’s opposite. Since signing, we’ve been doing the work at an accelerated rate. Since we started as a DIY band, we intend to stay that way in a lot of areas. I’m still very involved with every piece of gear that’s on stage, and if something goes wrong, or if there’s a problem, I’m going to be involved in fixing it. Just yesterday my in-ear monitor pack went bad so I walked miles around Manchester, England finding the cable that I needed to remedy the problem. Then there’s working with designers for merch, discussing production ideas, coming up with new show ideas, working on new songs, meeting with people for interviews, etc. Then play music. By the time that’s over, that’s the only time I have left to call my mom.

Being in a band and traveling is both a lot of hard work and the most fun thing ever. But I think out of all of the hard things, detaching from friendships and relationships at home is the hardest. It’s interesting because there’s never a black and white conversation declaring an end of a friendship, but upon leaving for months at a time, and being back for a few days to a week at a time, those friendships naturally change/fade/disappear. So my advice to those who wish to travel/be in a band would be to only have friends that are dumb/annoying/worth leaving behind. In summary, there’s nothing in the world I would rather do than what I’m doing now. It’s my favorite thing, and when I’m not on the road hitting my drums, I’m in my room hitting my drums. My hope is for every human to feel the same way about their jobs as I do. TC Mark

Josh Dun

Josh is one half of twenty one pilots and you can keep up with him on Twitter and Instagram.

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