Almost a year to the day after Twenty One Pilots released their sixth studio album, Scaled and Glazedfans will be able to enjoy the Twenty One Pilots Cinema Experience in theatres.
The band’s acclaimed, Grammy-winning concert is a callback to their live show that kicked off the release. Broadcast from an arena in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio, it was presented as a one-off concert and watched by fans from over 200 countries.
This widescreen version features an extended cut of the show with remastered audio and video and over 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage. It screens for one night only on Thursday, May 19, 2022, with a handful of encore screenings in select locations on Sunday, May 22, 2022.
I caught up with drummer Josh Dun to talk about the road to Twenty One Pilots Cinema Experiencethe experience comes full circle and whether or not he himself will be in the audience on the big night.
Simon Thompson: You had a great start to the week with a Billboard Music Awards win days before it hit theaters. Was this moment a coincidence?
Josh Dun: It was totally coincidental, but it’s cool and feels like a nice build up to that cinematic experience. Quite by chance, but it still worked well.
Thompson: And it will be in theaters almost a year to the day that the Chipped and glazed album has been freed. Was it always the intention when the album came out to have those 12 months apart or a serendipity for you again?
Dun: It also happened organically. The original livestream we did happened as a hand-in-hand event with the release of the album. As soon as the livestream has taken place, you can go buy the album. We didn’t know what we’d do with the livestream after that, but there was definitely the beginning of the plans and conversations about what made sense, and it was like, ‘Okay, let’s keep it for now and let’s think about the next steps.’ Over time, it started to make sense, and we were like, “Let’s show this to people again in a really fun, cool, and unique way.” We’ve put so much time and work into making this live stream, and I think the whole circle of this thing as well. The livestream was born because of the pandemic, which meant we couldn’t shoot. The way it was originally played and broadcast was with people basically sitting at home alone, or maybe calling friends and watching it together that way. Now it’s back where everyone can grab a friend or family members or a group of people and go together and relive this thing with other people. It’s one of those cool moments where reliving that experience, surrounded by people, will be completely different but really cool.
Thompson: I was very surprised at the effort that went into creating that in the arena. A lot of bands did that kind of stuff, but the staging was stripped down. Twenty One Pilots pulled out all the stops and efficiently put on a high production stadium show. Who had the idea to go so far?
Dun: It’s a good observation. Livestreams have been around since before the pandemic, so people have often asked us if we’ll ever do it. Our answer has always been no because the way we do our show requires people, and we intentionally did it that way. That hasn’t changed since we were playing in bars and clubs. We always involved the audience as much as possible, so the idea of doing something without an audience seemed impossible. It’s like we’re doing a show without the other band members. Then the pandemic came and, even at first, we started to see bands and artists doing live streams. Being completely transparent, it was a little disappointing for both of us. It was like, ‘It’s cool, there’s kind of a hype, we have the countdown on the screen, and then the show starts, and after two songs, you know exactly what the rest is .’ We had a lot of conversations, it was a topic on the table, and we looked at each other and had a conversation because we felt like we couldn’t do an authentic version of a Twenty One Pilots show that we would be proud of. . When we decided to try and tackle something, we knew we had to rework everything from scratch and reimagine what the performance would be like, and in a way, we took advantage of the fact that it didn’t. there were no crowds there. We rented the Columbus arena. We had five or six different set pieces to go from and back to, and it took up the entire floor of the arena. We usually couldn’t do something like that with a crowd, and we added a few other things like backing vocals and band members and a few dancers. It was something where we had to start from scratch.
Thompson: Was it the reaction from the fans afterwards that it was a good decision? Was that where the confirmation and validation came from?
Dun: I think so. Having an audience at our shows has been so ingrained into what our band is and how we present ourselves that I felt a bit embarrassed to play something without an audience that was going to come out with an audience. Even on the day of the live broadcast, I was like, ‘I hope people like it, I hope it goes well and it’s interesting, and people stay engaged in the performance throughout. long.” I thought seeing positive reinforcement and encouragement from people afterwards was validation, especially since it was quite expensive to do. We have invested a lot of money and a lot of time in it. It took about eight months to get ready to get on Zoom, which makes it difficult because you can’t bring people into a room to have logistical conversations. We had people across the country hop on Zoom and have conversations about what things would look and feel like so far before the actual event.
Thompson: Have people ever approached you about doing a concert film, a documentary or even something theatrical with your work?
Dun: It was never really a conversation we had before. We released our album, Trenchthat we followed with blurred face, and these albums have stories that go all the way. We also purposely made these albums and songs self-contained, so if you don’t know anything about the band’s history or lore, you can listen to the songs and enjoy them. There’s also an underlying narrative happening, and more specifically, when Trench came out, a lot of people said, ‘Hey, you should do a movie or a Netflix
Thompson: Has this experience changed how you feel about doing something cinematic or for the stage? Green Day is just one example of a band that took their work and brought it to life with great success. What about scores? Both Danny Elfman and Trent Reznor have had great success in this area.
Dun: Personally, I feel like you unlock things in your mind as you go through life. Tony Hawk was the first guy to do the 900 on a skateboard. No one had ever really done it before, and once he did it unlocked the ability for other people to do it. Now, that’s a relatively common thing for people to do, and sometimes it takes a mental unblock where it’s just like, ‘Oh, we’re able to do something like that.’ There’s currently no conversation about moving forward in the direction of film or television, but if we ever wanted to take on something like that, I think we could.
Thompson: When you did the livestream, you couldn’t see how the audience felt about it and reacted to it. With its projection in theaters, you have the opportunity to be in that room, with the audience, to watch them watching you, so will you sneak into one of the projections and see what it was like from the other side ?
Dun: I will, yeah. A few weeks ago, my mother said to me: ‘Are you going to go to one of them?’ I was like, ‘No, probably not.’ There were a few thoughts I immediately had, and one of them was that I would buy a ticket for my own movie experience and be the only one in the theater. I absolutely did not want to find myself in this situation. It was my first thought. I’d rather stay home and, in my mind, pretend that everything is fine, that all the theaters are packed and everyone is throwing popcorn and having a good time. As we get closer to the date, I would look back with regret if I didn’t show up to the movies and enjoy it with everyone. As I mentioned, I see this as a full circle, where we can now be surrounded by people. With music and movies, I think they are a stamp in time. I listen to high school albums, and they take me back to that time, and it will evoke feelings or emotions that I had at that time. To relive this livestream, I think it will take me back to the middle of the pandemic when a lot was dark and uncertain, and there wasn’t necessarily light at the end of the tunnel. Going and sitting in a theater, hopefully surrounded by other people, and reliving that moment with a new perspective would be a fun and exciting thing. I think I’ll have to go and enjoy it too.
Thompson: Which city will you honor with your presence? Do you know it yet? Are you just going to pick one at random?
Dun: It will be Columbus, Ohio. I think this will be the most convenient for me.
Thompson: Ticket sales for the screenings in Columbus, Ohio are going to explode, Josh.
Dun: (laughs) Well, I hope so, because I don’t want to be the only one in this.
You will find the latest ticketing and information about participating cinemas worldwide here.