Twenty One Pilots is a popular band made up of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun. They have grown a large fan base, and have released five albums: Trench, Blurryface, Vessel, Regional at Best and Twenty One Pilots. Over the course of their last two albums the duo has been telling a bit of a meta story. There are cities, characters, escapes, vultures and more and to be quite frank it can be very confusing for someone who is just getting into the band. However, for fans it may be very important to know the details over the course of the next few weeks since the band has been hinting that something might be about to happen. Before we get into any theorizing about that, here’s a bit of a review, or a crash course for anyone new here.
Let’s get started by talking about the Bishops. There are nine bishops with Nico being Joseph’s bishop. Joseph has also said that Nico is a continuation of the Blurryface character from the album Blurryface. Blurryface represents all of Joseph’s darker thoughts. Nico’s full name is Nicholas Bourbaki. (Note: Nicholas Bourbaki was in real life actually an organization of mathematicians. If you are interested I would recommend doing more research and reading up on the symbolism there as well.) Now, there are nine bishops and they are commonly referred to as “the Niners”. The Bishops run the city of Dema. Dema means “silent tower”. It’s also important to note that the Bishops cannot or can barely see the color yellow. This is could have a deeper meaning and symbolize how hard it is to see the good when you are struggling or depressed. Dema is surrounded by high walls that are impossible to get over, the only way out is under the walls. It is believed that Dema represents all of Joseph’s mental health struggles (depression, anxiety, etc.). The Bishops and the walls represent what traps him in that headspace and what makes it hard to escape from those low places.
Now between Blurryface and Trench the band went quiet. Then a site popped up. It featured letters from Clancy. There are many theories as to who Clancy is, but none are confirmed. One commonly accepted theory is that Clancy is kind of the opposite of Blurryface. In other words he is all of Joseph’s good thoughts. In the letters Clancy comes to the realization that Dema is not the home he originally thought it was, instead it is a trap. He makes his escape to Trench. In an interview Joseph describes Trench saying, “The record is called Trench, and Trench is a world, this place that’s mostly made of trees and rocks and uncharted territory and wild terrain, and at the very bottom of the world is a city called Dema…When you’re travelling inside of Trench it’s similar to really being in between two places…” Within Trench there is a group of escaped residents of Dema known as the Banditos. They wear yellow and attempt to help others escape. In a music video Josh Dun was the lead bandito. The Banditos probably represent those who have helped Joseph through his struggles.
Well, that wraps up the basics of it all. There are so many more theories and pieces of symbolism throughout the lyrics, music videos, emails, and the website that it would take forever to get through it all. Since this isn’t a comprehensive guide I just couldn’t cover all of it. It’s all pretty wild, awesome and overall a moving commentary on mental health struggles and getting through those struggles. I would encourage everyone to do some research of their own and enjoy the ins and outs of this story as much as I have.
Now it’ s time to discuss the more recent developments I was talking about. During Twenty One Pilots’ concerts there is an MC of sorts named Nigel. Recently when referring to Dun, Nigel said, “your favorite drummer in the entire world…at least for the next few days,” then on July 6th he said, “your favorite drummer in the entire world…at least for the next few hours.” Then instead of throwing out a yellow drumstick like he normally does, Dun threw out a red drumstick. Could this mean that something is going to happen to Dun’s character in the Dema saga? There is a chance this could be referring to the band’s summer tour being over. I can’t help but to think that it is probably more than that though. Then a site the band has used previously, (nicoandtheniners.com) went down. It later came back up, but just as a blank yellow screen. It could be possible that we could be getting an update from Clancy soon!
In terms of what the band itself has said it sounds like they don’t have any concrete plans for their next album yet. They have said that they will continue the Dema saga after Trench ended in a cliff hanger. In an interview with Billboard Joseph 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 ‘Leave The City’ and the song itself is a kind of a 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.” In the same interview Joseph says that there is still a big character that is yet to be introduced. He also says that the writing process has begun for the next record, but that it’s hard to get too serious or far on anything because the band has been on tour. Hopefully this story continues and we get more insightful looks at the themes and representations that have been carried out thus far.
Featured Image via Rock Cult