The follow-up to 2018's 'Trench' will introduce a "new character that plays a huge role in the narrative"
Twenty One Pilots have revealed they are already working on their new album.
‘The Ohio duo released fifth studio LP ‘Trench’ in October 2018, a concept album concerning the allegorical city of Dema and the nine dictatorial bishops who keep its population from escaping – as well as the rebel force of ‘banditos’ who seek to liberate them. It continued an intricate mythos first introduced in their 2015 record ‘Blurryface’.
Frontman Tyler Joseph said the band will expand the lore on the next album, which will feature a previously-unknown character.
Speaking to NME, he said: “There’s definitely an end-game. There’s a story. I think I was very specific that there’s a reason why the record ends with [the song] ‘Leave The City’ and the song itself is a kind of cliff-hanger. I mean, the whole thing was it’s setting up for what’s next and it’d be silly to not at least resolve what we’ve already started.”
“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.”
“So it’s not going to be rehashing all the same themes, but it’s gonna recall all that and introduce a new character, a new direction.”
Asked if he’d already started writing the album, the 30-year-old replied: “Oh yeah. It’s hard ‘cause we’re doing this on tour, but I actually woke up two nights ago. This doesn’t usually happen, it sounds super-dramatic, but I woke up with a melody in my head and grabbed my phone and recorded it. Then went back to bed and when I woke up fully, I remembered that I did that and I opened the voice memo to listen to it.”
“I woke up with a melody in my head two nights ago, grabbed my phone and recorded it”
– Tyler Joseph
“In my head, I was just gifted with this thing that happened in a dream and I’m so excited about it and I listen to it and was like, ‘OK, it’s not that great…But oh, OK, hold on, if I were to use that chord to start out and then OK, if that chord goes here’, so it’s really fun to be on tour and trying to be influenced to write ‘cause a lot of crazy things can happen and you never sleep well on tour.”
“I mean, our version of getting drunk or high is just being tired,” he joked.
NME recently joined Twenty One Pilots in Birmingham for the first night of the UK leg of their worldwide ‘Bandito’ tour for an in-depth interview where the band talk revealingly about some of the personal stories that fuel their genre-hopping songs.
Some tracks – such as ‘Legend’, ‘Neon Gravestones’ and ‘Smithereens’ – exist separately from the ‘Trench’ narrative, and drummer Josh Dun suggested they were toying with the notion of a stand-alone record, unconnected to any lore.
Josh explained: “Everything’s strategic, but there’s also elements of me and Tyler – who are just guys and experience life just like everybody else. There’s a couple of tracks on ‘Trench’ and even ‘Blurryface’ that doesn’t necessarily totally fit into what you would envision as this crazy narrative that you would imagine on a Netflix show or movie or something.”
“So there will always probably be elements of us that peek out as well, and maybe that would even be a whole record in between the ones explaining the narrative – maybe, maybe not.”
As it’s early days, Tyler explained that while the wider story was planned, he was not yet sure what the record will end up sounding like.
Tyler said: “Before we were making ‘Trench’, I had this idea in my head that it would be a lighter sounding and softer record, and then I wrote ‘Jumpsuit’ which ruined that, so I don’t think there would be actually any way to describe the type of songs we’ll be writing.”
The Grammy-winning pair are currently on an arena tour, which will culminate with a three-night stint at London’s The SSE Arena, Wembley, before they return to the UK to headline Reading & Leeds Festival on August bank holiday weekend (23-25 August).
Despite an impressive production that involves a burning car, pyrotechnics and body-doubles that allow a balaclava-clad Tyler to disappear and reappear mid-song in different parts of the arena, Tyler said he did not feel fazed by the size of the crowds.
He said: “I think that a lot of artists and bands that don’t have a goal in mind, you can kind of tell that they’re just blowing in the wind with what it is they’re trying to create, what they’re trying to accomplish, and there’s a lot of aspects that we’re doing on this tour that Josh and I saw in our heads way before people were showing up to shows. And that’s almost in a sense acted as its own roadmap.”
“Treating every show the same – whether we were playing in front of two or twenty people – is something that I’m glad we learned when we were a younger band because it’s still a valuable lesson today playing in front of sold-out crowds every night.”
“Now we’re thrust into this mania, we rely on this skills we realised we were sharpening. I mean, this is what we’ve been focusing on 24/7 – we don’t have any hobbies. This is it.”
Tyler also added that this run of shows is special in that it will be the first time his mother will get to see him perform in the UK. “On this tour, my mom is coming out to the UK and she’s never traveled that much at all – especially not to Europe and the UK, so she’s really excited,” he said. “She’s like: ‘What’s the UK money?’ And I was like: ‘We’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about it.’”
“But to see it all come full-circle and actually the thing that our parents were so supportive of us in blind faith, now we can reward them with ‘Hey, come and see a show in the UK’ – which is somewhere they’ve only seen in movies – feels important.”
Twenty One Pilots play throughout March:
4 – The SSE Hydro Arena – Glasgow, UK
5 – Manchester Arena – Manchester, UK
7 – The SSE Arena, Wembley – London, UK
8 – The SSE Arena, Wembley – London, UK
9 – The SSE Arena, Wembley – London, UK