MTV Artist To Watch: twenty | one | pilots

Meet MTV's Artist To Watch, Twenty One Pilots.

Meet twenty | one | pilots: masters of the piano-back flip.

We have so many questions for Columbus’ twenty | one | pilots. First, why the breaks in their name? Why all the masks? If they had to classify themselves as a single genre, what would it be? These are the first of many questions that surface regarding the multifaceted, multi-genred duo — between drummer Josh Dun and lead singer Tyler Joseph, the pair manage to create a sound that is neither here, nor there, not rock and not pop, DEFINITELY kinda hip-hop, but also twenty | one tries at everything else on the spectrum. Feeling confused yet? Not to worry — TOP’s quirky brand of pop-meets-hip-hop-meets-rock-meets-hardcore may sound complex, but it only takes one live viewing to know that all those loose ends are immediately tightened up once TOP hit the stage.

Read more about twenty | one | pilots after the jump.

Old friends from high school, the guys got their start by self-releasing two full-length albums and built a major Midwest following with a subsequent deluge of energetic shows (the guys have been known to backflip off pianos mid-show, and that certainly doesn’t hurt visibility). Now signed to Fueled By Ramen (also home to Paramore!), TOP have since released a Three Songs EP and now a third full-length album, Vessel.

Produced by Greg Wells (who also worked with Adele), Vessel features punchy, hard-hitting, melodic ditties like “Holding On To You” and “Guns For Hands” (which you can download here!), tracks that channel Matt & Kim‘s cheer-punk attitude, the Beastie Boys‘ shouting hip-hop vocals, and Eminem‘s fast-talking nasal bark. You can even hear a little Ben Folds Five in TOP’s piano-infused beats (before the vocals kick in, obvs), while Vessel‘s “Migraine” kicks off with a vocoded ELO vibe.

Now one of MTV’s Artists To Watch for 2013, the rock-rap-tronica duo (See? We tried to classify them) recently performed at MTV’s “Artist To Watch” showcase, where they rolled out a teeming set of pop-core anthems, onstage gymnastics, ‘90s R&B covers, and Blue Man-esque side-by-side drumming.

In addition to preparing to become the biggest band in the world, twenty | one | pilots are currently touring the U.S. through February — catch them before they hit Japan and South Korea in March! There might even be some backflips in it for you.

+ Watch twenty | one | pilots perform “Car Radio” and “Guns For Hands” live at NYC’s Highline Ballroom, and check out more of MTV’s 2013 Artists To Watch.

Photo credit: Fueled By Ramen