Twenty One Pilots – An Open Letter

Teengirl dragged me to a gig where she described the band as “a screamo, ukulele playing, rapping, emo, piano playing, dance band” I thought this is a band that needs to pick a genre!

And so it was with no expectations I went along to see this gig in a tiny nightclub in Brighton filled with teenage girls and the odd very drunk thirty-something man – a few of whom got carried out of the audience by the bouncers while the teenagers all behaved themselves!

After my experience standing on the balcony of The Haunt looking down on the moving sea of bouncing girls I was moved to write an open letter to the two men of Twenty One Pilots.

Here it is:

Dear Tyler and Josh

As a mum in my early 40s with a life full of kids I don’t give over any of my time to listening to new music and new bands.  So I had never heard of you and despite teengirl trying desperately to get me to listen to you and repeatedly telling me I’d love you, I am saddened to say I resisted and so you were entirely new to me when I saw you on stage in your balaclava masks that Monday night.

To be honest with you I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a band who rap.  So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for not being stereotypical misogynistic, show off swag fuckery, violence inciting rappers.

I also appreciate that you don’t sing meaningless songs of great love or lost love or boppy pop shit with lyrics that make no sense or are overly sexually explicit for the age group listening to them.

With fame comes great responsibility: your songs could just be something to dance to or they could be the one thing that allows our teenagers to feel heard, listened to and understood.  I am grateful to you for taking that responsibility seriously by writing poems (and I do believe them to be poetry) that can change a teenager’s intention, open their heads and their hearts.  Too many in the public eye don’t take their responsibility seriously and far too many abuse the power given to them by the public (yes Mr Politician I am talking about you).

Tyler and Josh from Twenty One Pilots in Brighton

Twenty One Pilots

All we all want is to be heard and to be acknowledged, be that as adults, toddlers or teenagers and I thank you for writing lyrics and music that does just that.

I thank you for starting the conversation with our teenagers about self-harm and suicide, for opening your ears and your eyes so you can open theirs and mine.

Thank you for acknowledging that these very real and very strong emotions exist in their hearts and take over their brains.  As a mum, I appreciate your fear for our teenagers and I am grateful to you for telling them you understand.

Because sometimes just the understanding from an adult is all it can take to save a young person from the pit of hell.  Far too often we as parents and responsible adults push their fears to the side, don’t allow them to express them, tell them they’re not real, not to dwell on them, to just get over them.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots sings out his emotions

Tyler putting his pain out there for all to see

As a parent I wonder if we do this because we are afraid that if we poke the monster, pull back the layers of this raw anguish we’ll make it worse for them?  And so they never get given the tools to deal with the pain of simply growing up in a society that says it’s not ok to feel when all they can do is feel as they look inside only to find themselves wanting.

And then when our children hurt themselves intentionally we rail against the world, god, the internet searching for someone to blame instead of visiting some introspection into our lives.

Thank you for writing raw, honest and authentic lyrics and music that really, truly speaks to teenagers: lyrics that let them know its ok to be different, to be curious, to wonder what if, to question the status quo, to ask how it might be changed for the better.

Teenagedom is the beginning of all things self: an egocentric rollercoaster of self-awareness, independence and pushing the boundaries.  And being a teenager means inspecting yourself far too often when the self-awareness monster rears his ugly head, feeling alone under the microscope of peers inside the institution we call school.

And so they pull down a mask and become a façade to fit in – something you, Tyler and Josh, obviously understand and are not afraid to admit.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler pulls down his mask

I cannot thank you enough for being authentic, honest and real.  You, Tyler, are a poet.  I hear haunting spectres of Sylvia Plath and Stevie Smith in your words.  When I was a teen their words were my saviours: they showed me I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t weird and that to question death and love in the same sentence was absolutely normal.  I take my hat off to you for your intelligent metaphorical rhymes that speak volumes to my daughter and other teenagers.

I love that you put intense, honest and empathetic lyrics to a bouncy happy beat – a beautiful metaphor of teenagerdom.  I feel your pain as I dance along.  And I understand teengirl just that little bit more when she tells me her favourite Twenty One Pilots song – her favourites change with her moods.  Just as I love that you break the music rules, don’t fit into a box and can’t be labelled.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots standing on his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Bathed in the light

Teengirl gets that you get her.  She bounces to your beats and shouts along to your lyrics in thecool way only a teenager can.  And I know that your words have gone a long way to helping her heal and understand.

Over my many years loving music there have been only a few musicians with whom I have become obsessed, even fewer who have touched me and spoken directly to me.  In that short list you’ll find Janis Joplin, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and BrightEyes.  And now, Twenty One Pilots have joined that list because I am already quite obsessed with your rhythms and your rhymes.

Thank you for respecting the responsibility of fame.  Please don’t let the industry change you.

I can only begin to imagine how proud your mums are of both of you.

With lots of love and thanks,


PS What is a Pantaloon?

Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler and Josh

Twenty One Pilots – Tyler and Josh

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig


About mumtoteens

mum to two teens and a toddler - not a easy mix tbh. The oldest is 18, the middlest is 13 and the baby is 2 and we live a life full of love and chaos. View all posts by mumtoteens

11 responses to “Twenty One Pilots – An Open Letter

  • sarahmo3w

    What a brilliant post. They sound like an incredible band. Thanks very much for linking this up with the Britmums teen and tween round-up. I love it so much I’m going to feature it in the April edition.


    • mumtoteens

      Thank you for your kind words Sarah, they are an incredible band. If you can get a hold of their new album Vessel have a listen, you won’t regret it. I look forward to seeing my blog in your teen and tween round up!! Thanks again.


  • Bell Smith

    They really are an amazing band! They’re actually coming to my state and I’m hoping to go, but I don’t know how to convince my parents! I feel like they’ll immediately judge TOP as a bad influence and won’t let me go, or if they hear the music they’ll think I’m depressed. (It’s happened before). I’m 13 and they don’t think I’m the right age to go to a concert and I’m not sure how to convince them… Usually I’d just let this kind of thing pass, but I love this band too much to let an opportunity like this go!!! Even if they did let me go, one of them would want to come. I know it’s bratty to complain about this, but when they looked up another band I liked, they dubbed it as “satanic”. I know that they want the best for me, but I want to be open with them about this. I know that this page is for moms, but I could really use your help. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
    A seriously stressed out Bell


    • mumtoteens

      Hi Bell
      Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply.

      I can understand your frustration at your parents but as a parent to a teenage girl I know they love you and want the best for you.

      But I also know that’s not what you want to hear, you want me to tell you how to get your parents to let you go see Twenty
      One Pilots.

      Firstly, at your age you won’t be allowed to go see them without an adult so you will have to have at least one of your parents go with you.

      How do you persuade them to do that? I’m not exactly sure as we sound very different kinda parents. All I can suggest is to show them my blog post (please warn them it has swearing in it!) and talk to them about why you like the band, what they mean to you and explain, calmly and clearly, what makes them different to other bands, why the words of their songs mean so much to you.

      And try to understand things from you parents point of view: they love you, they want the best for you. They were teenagers once and they probably broke the rules, did things they shouldn’t have, things they probably regret now. They want to protect you from that, from making mistakes or poor choices you’ll regret.

      I’m not saying that’s the right way or the wrong way, but it’s their way and you have to be able to understand them in order to get them to understand you, if that makes sense?

      Good luck, Bell, I hope you manage to persuade your parents. Twenty One Pilots are an incredible band who speak to the hearts and souls of people of all ages. I think your parents may appreciate if they would just listen to their words.

      Take care xxxxx


      • Bell

        Dear mumtoteens,
        Thank you so much for replying to my comment! Tickets are sold out in our area but if TOP comes back around here again I’ll be sure to use your tips to try and get my parents to let me go to the concert. For now, I’ll just try to save up money I guess :D.
        Thanks for the help!


  • Jennie Bean

    I just came upon this & I couldn’t have said it better. I was questioning if it was, in fact, me that was going through a second childhood. I am a mother of four (a 19 year old son, two daughters 14 & 12, and a 2 year old), and I discovered 21 Pilots through my two teenaged daughters. And I have to say that I love them! I grew up with bands like The Cure, Bauhaus and Skinny Puppy (to name a few). As I grew older & my taste changes so did the music that I listen to. Now I can say that along with Interpol, Jeff Buckley, Esthero & Amanda Palmer…that 21 Pilots is now part of that list. I told my daughters that I have NEVER heard any band that mixes so many genres of music, and does it so well. Josh & Tyler ooze pure talent. And I love that my daughters have found a band that touches them & that they can relate to on a deep level. Tyler & Josh please keep doing what you do – you are amazing! And you even have a two year old fan that loves you!

    Liked by 1 person

  • magicalbirth

    Thank you. My daughter loves this band and I haven’t really paid attention. I sort of didn’t want to encroach on ‘her’ thing, but she’s having some problems right now and I wanted to see what people had written about them, I was worried they could be making her feel worse. Your post has made me reconsider. If you have any teen/toddler love to spare, could do with some, we’re having a hard time at the mo! Hope I get o go see the band someday soon with my daughter too


    • mumtoteens

      Hi Magicalbirth
      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and also to comment.
      I wouldn’t say that listening to Twenty One pilots will make her problems worse, in fact, it might make her feel as if there’s someone out there who gets her and who gets her problems. Twenty One Pilots singer Tyler wrote some of his songs when he was just 17 and in all his songs he addresses the issues and problems faced by teenagers today. I think that’s one of the attractions for teenagers, cos when you’re a teen you feel like no-one understands you or gets what you’re going through but this band write from their hearts and share themselves with their listeners.
      I think you should have a listen to them, start with Vessel before you got to Blurryface, you might even find they speak to you too!
      If you’ve read any of my other blog posts you’ll see my teens have had some really rough times over the past few years, so I feel your pain right now. Here’s a virtual {{{hug}}} for you and {{{hug}}} one for your daughter.
      The teenage years are a bit of a rollercoaster, think the terrible two’s but taller and with even more attitude. You have a few good months, followed by a few bad ones and so on. But so long as you’re there for each other, are honest with each other and try your best to understand their pain you’ll all get through it. You might all be a bit changed when you get out the other side, but you’ll have survived.
      Hard times are never good while they’re happening to you but if once you’re through them and look back you can often see how they’ve changed your life for the better. I often tell friends that in five years time they’ll look back and be glad those changes were forced upon them.
      I hope that’s the case for you and your daughter.
      Please take care of each other and take care of you for her.
      Mumtoteens xx

      Liked by 1 person

  • Krystal

    Hey I know this is a really old article but I wanted to know what parents thought of twenty one pilots so I scrolled through pages of Google searches and I found this and it made me really happy to see a mom who understands their music and doesn’t just focus on the fact that they say the word “suicide” but that they are sharing a message of hope |-/


    • mumtoteens

      Hi Krystal
      Thanks for reading my blog post and thank you for your kind words.

      We all love Twenty One Pilots in our house and their lyrics have helped each of us through our tough times individually and as a family. As you so rightly say they’re so much more than their mention of suicide.

      But suicide does need to be talked about more and with more honesty By everyone because it happens, not because of a lyric in a song but because of the pain that person feels inside.

      Take care, Krystal. Thank you talking to me xxxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: