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Turnstile Love Connection: From Baltimore Underground Legends To Global Ambassadors Of Hardcore

15 February 2023 | 2:54 pm | Parry Tritsiniotis

In the middle of their Australian tour, we speak to Turnstile about the creative ethos of the band, translating across different audiences, creativity and its relationship with a heavy touring schedule and their rapid live show.

(Image via Jimmy Fontaine)

In 2021, Baltimore based hardcore band Turnstile released their third studio record GLOW ON. Since then, the band has gone from dominating the global underground circuit of hardcore to becoming one of the worlds most exciting outfits. 

They broke the ceiling of hardcore without compromising the genre, with now millions indulging in the genre’s clear ethos of community, love and fearlessness when doing so. 

GLOW ON is an ambitious body of work that is as loud as it is inviting. With it, they play with unique textures, classic hardcore tropes, blending them together with a level of euphoria, found in power pop. The sonics combine perfectly with the album's emotional layers, creating the perfect melting pot for a universally adored, rock album. It's no surprise the world, no matter the music you adore is indulging in the record. 

The band enlisted Mike Elizondo, known as Dr Dre's prodigy to co-produce the record alongside lead singer, Brendon Yates. Some of his production credits include the likes of Eminem and Fiona Apple. They also collaborated on the record with Blood Orange for two tracks. The first of these was also the album's lead single, ALIEN LOVE CALL. With the track, Turnstile dig deep into the sonic territory of their collaborator. A spaced out, wavy R&B jam, featuring big emotional vocal performances, and a spoken word outro by Dev Hynes. On the albums closer, they return the creative exchange, with  Hynes entering the hardcore world of Turnstile, a sound he hasn't touched or been involved with since his band, Test Icicles.

GLOW ON’s opener MYSTERY begins with ambient, arpeggiated synths, before erupting in a nostalgia driven, aggressive yet highly accessible cut. As the track enters its final third, its emotional depth significantly increases. The guitar solo screams a nostalgic energy of celebration. Whether finishing a final year of school, reflecting on an epic holiday, or coming home after an incredible party, MYSTERY bottles up these heavy emotions into a mere 2 minutes and 35 seconds.

The record is littered with the classic Turnstile formula. Short, sharp adrenaline rush tracks. From lock down double sided anthem, HUMANOID / SHAKE IT UP, to the rapid, at your throat T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION), to the syncopated almost reggae style rhythm of DON'T PLAY, every track on the record serves a specific purpose.

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The record is dreamy, it's punky, it's hardcore. Its reverb heavy production combined with catchy hooks and a clear emotive presence make this thing extremely infectious. At the same time, despite these features and the calming presentation of the artwork, the record still hits in all the right places, serving their new and original fans alike.

Since its release the band have toured right across the globe in their biggest shows to date, alongside artists including Slowthai and JPEGMAFIA, which acts as a testament to their versatility, but also their ability to wow audiences despite genre. GLOW ON was created with rhythm in mind sonically, with brute honesty and genuine passion emotionally.

Following a nomination at the Grammys and appearances at Laneway Festival, the band this week have performed headline shows in Melbourne and Sydney accompanied by SPEED. On the eve of their first Sydney show, we chat to the band about the ethos of TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION, translating across different audiences, how creativity shifts on a relentless tour schedule and their rapid live show. 

You can grab the final tickets left to their remaining shows in Sydney and Brisbane HERE.

Thankyou for putting on SPEED to support your shows across Australia. They mean the world to us here. 

Franz Lyons: Those are the bros.

Pat McRory: They are like our cousins. 

Franz: We’ve been kicking it with them since RELENTLESS.

Why do you think that GLOW ON translated so widely across so many different markets and people right across the world? Why does a TURNSTILE make sense next to a JPEGMAFIA or Mall Grab?

Pat: It’s what I search for in other music to. I want to see something that is genuine with passion and comes from a place of excitement. Those are the pillars of everything we do. It’s impossible for us to do it another way. The main thing of a lot of Turnstile is evoking emotion and feeling. A lot of that involves movement. 

A lot of songs begin as a rhythm instead of a riff or melody. Inherently, when you hear rhythm that catches you you’re going to tap a toe or bob a head. A lot of our music stems from the things that are primal in people, with rhythm specifically. 

On that note, how important is discomfort in pushing boundaries musically and live? How does being alongside these artists and beyond outside your world effect your creativity internally?

Daniel Fang: Internally is a really good word there because it is so much about internal boundary pushing. That creates individual expression. There are boundaries that exist externally that are perceived that you want to break but I don’t think it really matters if you have a limiter on what you are willing to explore within yourself. Once you are free within yourself you can then really tap into what you truly love. It changes the structures of what you might feel is attractive or cool that you absorb passively through life. 

That’s definitely our goal, to find it is what we love and turnover every single rock until we get there and try our best to actively release any impulse that comes to the surface and never try to be inhibited, whether active or passive. The world does a lot to make people inhibited in a way that is safe, rather than expansive. I don’t think any true expressive music is created when you are prioritising feeling safe with boundaries.

You’ve toured non-stop since GLOW ON was released. How does being on the tour on this scale for the first time impact your creativity? Is it super inspiring or does it act as a shift of focus away from making new music?

Franz: Playing a lot changes where the creativity can come from. Creativity is what happens on stage. We’ve been playing the songs off the record and older songs for a long period of time and if you’re listening it’s not the record, it’s not the recording and that is my favourite part. Other creative things, that need to be realised more like songs or videos all start as seeds in this wild, shoot from the hip lifestyle. As far of being on the move, that is where you garner all your in real time inspiration. 

Every day you get to play is another opportunity to try something different. You’re afforded to make parts of songs do a little squiggle when they’re straight lines on the album. You can try melodies and harmonies that you wouldn’t normally do if you were trying to create a realised piece of something. 

For example, being inspired by a new song means that today when we do a soundcheck I'm going to try something new. I hear all the band members do the same thing with a guitar lick here, or an extra note here and that’s just real life experience. 

Speaking of on stage, I’m selfishly most excited to hear you play Alien Love Call. How beautiful is performing that song on stage, stripping it all back in amidst mosh worthy hardcore music?

Pat: It’s definitely a highlight. It’s also this weird, eye of the storm vibe. From the point where we start until you get to that song, it’s chaos. It’s fast, it’s loud, it’s heavy. You get there and we are all like, gasping for air and dripping sweat. It’s the one time where your brain starts to have a piece of clarity. In that moment you’re able to close your eyes, look around or breathe or take note of something. It’s such a slow song that you absorb a lot in those moments and not just energy from just literally calming. It’s a moment where the crowd is in the same space as you again. That space is a calm space and it is the most vulnerable moment of the entire night. It’s super shared. 

I also say it every night, it’s also the test of cardio. If we come out the other end of Alien Love Call that means our cardio is so good. We can recalculate in those three minutes then come right back. 

Franz: Amen bro. 

At the venue you’re playing in Sydney there are barriers in a thatre rooms. Now that your shows are scaling up, how have you found it maintaining the essence of a true hardcore show in large venues and at festivals? How do you ensure that it’s not too mindblowing for the casual fan while also servicing the hardcore heads?

Brendan Yates: It feels like everytime we play a show it's very much the same but different. You look for the opportunity to connect in different ways. At a festival or big room, it’s not the same as the basement show or smaller club. Ultimately the goal is always the same, you adjust accordingly and make an effort to make it feel the same, given whatever circumstances we are playing in. We find excitement in shifting back and forth between the really intimate shows and the bigger shows, with an audience that might not have had the opportunity to see you in an intimate space. Our preferred experience as a band is the intimate, non-barrier experience but we always work to make the best experience wherever we are at.

My favourite lyric from all of your songs comes from the ultimate Turnstile anthem TLC. It closes with, I Want To Thank you, For Letting Me See Myself. What does the ethos, Turnstile Love Connection mean to you?

Brendan: That song encapsulates the last few years especially. It’s in some ways flipping perspectives on the feelings of darkness, loneliness and desire to feel contempt. When you flip the script, it forces you to look around you and change perspectives and realising that the real beauty in people that are around you and the community that you have. Accepting feeling both of those things at the same time has been a big thing for this last couple of years for us as a band. That’s why TLC has really connected to me personally. The beauty of music is that it connects to everyone in a different way.


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