TYLER JOSEPH TAKES US INSIDE HIS HEAD(ACHE) ON ONE OF TØP’S MOST BELOVED ANTHEMS or a man whose deeply personal lyrics have sent twenty one pilots from Ohio basements to the world’s biggest stages, Tyler Joseph likes to play his cards close to his chest.
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Fscholarship in favour of writing music, it wasn’t long before Tyler found the courage in music to address his demons. And after building a modest fanbase and expanding it outside of the band’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio, he sensed the relationship twenty one pilots had with their fans was a two-way street.
“We came to know each other through this music,” Tyler told K!. “And I realised they were asking those questions, too. They weren’t afraid to ask, and when they asked and didn’t have the answer, they didn’t know how to cope without having the answer! I realised creating art, writing a song, painting… it helps get over not having the answer. It gives you a sense of purpose.”
This purpose meant Tyler found the confidence to pen lyrics such as ‘Am I the only one I know / Waging my wars behind my face and above my throat?’ on Migraine, one of the standout tracks on 2013’s breakthrough album, Vessel – a record Tyler remains curiously guarded on in interviews.
“No, I didn’t really have a migraine when I wrote the song,” Tyler dryly revealed on the bonus edition of the album. “I’ve had a migraine before – actually, I’ve only had one, and it was awful. The headache in the song represents an issue. If you think about what a headache is, the hurting isn’t the issue – the hurting in your head is your body telling you that there’s something else wrong that needs to be fixed. Your body’s not getting what it needs, so it ultimately sets of an alarm saying, ‘There’s something wrong.’ Your
“YOUR BODY GETS YOUR ATTENTION THROUGH PAIN” TYLER JOSEPH
body gets your attention through pain. If you take that example of how your body works and think about how your psyche works, that’s ultimately what I was trying to express: there’s something wrong.” And though it’s Tyler’s voice that sings lyrics such
‘Sundays are my suicide days’ and ‘I am not as fine as I seem’ in the track, this intense pain and self-doubt is something that drummer Josh Dun feels equally.
Like Tyler, though, the sticksman found consolation in the Skeletøn Clique. “I turn to the people who have made us a huge part of their life and I realise how thankful I am for those people. Honestly, it’s a wonder for people who invest in us and spend time with us and this music – whether it’s at a show or alone in their room in the dark.”
With any luck, the power of twenty one pilots’ fanbase will continue to empower Tyler and Josh in battling their pain – both real and metaphorical – and encourage both band members to address topics important to them, regardless of outside influences.
“A lot of adults write off the whole depression and suicide thing, like, ‘Don’t let your head get the best of you, it’s immature,’” Tyler admitted. “But no matter what people’s intentions are behind expressing that they struggle with that, it’s a very real thing and should be taken seriously.”