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Twenty One Pilots Talk Embracing the Light on New Album — And How Their Next LP Might Slip Back Into Darkness

That’s a good question. For me, sonically, it probably would have fit. But something I’ve learned kind of recently… when I would listen to older songs of mine, I used to feel awkward. “I wish I could have done that differently… I would have recorded that differently…” But then recently, what I realized is the way for me to naturally get over that reaction is I realized, “That song is a perfect representation of who I was at that moment.” So the idea of trying to nitpick things that have already been is such a waste of time. You can be proud that it is a timestamp of who you were.

Which is all to say that sonically it may have fit the record, but it meant more to me as a timestamp of something that was in between records, something quick on its feet. What I’m proud of that song for is the ability, when the pandemic really started to take, to show the agility Josh and I have on a creative level: we can write, record and release a song quickly.

You’ve also said you already have a second record in the works — what can you tell me about that and are the new songs of a piece with this album?

I’ve always got ideas rolling, whether it’s voice memos on my phone or fully fleshed out ideas in the studio. There’s no feeling like releasing new music to fans that are anticipating it. Some of them aren’t going to like it, some are, and that’s exciting, to know that that will be changing — the landscape of who a Twenty One Pilots fan is slightly moving. And that’s scary, but also very exciting, and I love this feeling. I’m very sensitive to critique, but also very inspired. S

o instead of being thrust into this bear of an album cycle, with a ton of touring and a ton of other things taking up my time, energy and creativity, the idea of taking the excitement of releasing a record and being able to quickly move it into writing a next record is really exciting for me. I can’t say it’s fully fleshed-out and I know what direction I’m going to go, but I can say that I’m really excited about capitalizing on the energy of releasing a record and moving right into writing another one. That energy used to go into making an awesome tour and putting a lot of that energy into a good show for people.

The livestream felt a bit Broadway at parts — laced, of course, with the dark Dema story undercurrent from Trench for the old school fans. This seems like such a forward-facing pop record for you and you talked bout the inevitability of losing and gaining fans. Do you feel like this is your moment to blow up as big as you’ve ever been? And are you at all worried that some fans might resist and cut bait?

That’s certainly not the intention. There’s certain formats to songs that could make it on the radio and could not, and as a songwriter I know when I’m writing a song that might be able to make it on radio and could not and one that could not ever be on radio because of its length and structure and format. The other thing I’ve learned, though, is as soon as your intention is to try and write something more commercial you’ve already failed. If your intention is to write something commercial it’s not going to work.

The idea of trying to gain more fans… I’ve seen countless bands try to reinvent themselves in a way that custom-tailors to what’s going on in the current musical culture and that just never goes well. So I’m just going to keep trying to better myself and us as a band and me as a songwriter and inevitably people people will stop liking the direction we go, but I just can’t stay put and keep writing the same record. I think that would be almost more of a disservice to our fans.

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