Smashing together the sound of metal and the philosophy of hardcore punk, Turnstile is cool without even trying. Since 2010, their chaotic, adrenaline-inducing energy has captivated the restless spirits of their fans. Turnstile lives in a world with no rules, and their music will make you wish you lived there, too.
The group is comprised of Brendan Yates, Franz Lyons, Daniel Fang, Brady Ebert, and Pat McCrory. Their live performances are blistering, yet perplexingly intimate; that is because seeing Turnstile take the stage means you will see fans right up there with them. Between mosh pits, stage diving, and even sharing their instruments with the crowd, the bond that connects Turnstile to their audience is heavy-duty.
The boys of the band took the time to sit down with us and discuss their origins, skate videos, and their favorite moments after a decade of Turnstile.
Q&A With Turnstile
EB: You guys are about to head overseas to Germany in March. What are you looking forward to the most about touring abroad?
Brendan Yates: Last time we went to Europe, we just played some festivals and stuff. This time, we’re playing shows with all bands that we are either old-time friends with, or newly friends with. It’s a cool trip with a lot of different people, all bands sounding different. But everyone’s a homie, so it will be fun traveling together.
EB: With your most recent collab with Mall Grab, you’ve taken your punk-metal sound to new territories with lots of house and techno influence. How did your relationship start and eventually lead to the release of Share A View?
Pat McCrory: That was a relationship that stemmed from admiring each other from afar. We messaged online before, and we grew our relationship through the internet. We decided, after sharing interests, that we wanted to make something together, both being fans of each other. It was cool to partner up and work on something collaborative, going back and forth trying to make something cool. There was a cool connection that was there, and it was cool to build upon that.
EB: Outside of collaboration, how would you describe the sound of Turnstile in your own words?
Franz Lyons: Whatever it wants to be. Whatever it wants to be with a little glitter on top.
EB: Between your skate punk influences in your sound, collaborating with Mall Grab, and working with the BAKER team in the “Bomb / I Don’t Wanna Be Blind” music video, you guys are clearly into that scene. How has skateboarding influenced Turnstile as a whole?
FL: I think all of us that avidly follow skateboarding still did from when we were younger. A lot of music that I never would have known or heard was from skate videos.
FL: Also, skateboarding, in general, is kind of like the music you make. You can do whatever you want, however you want. Like, you don’t have to do tricks, you just go fast down the hill or ollie up the curb and get the same fulfillment as someone grinding down a giant handrail. You can pick up your board and do whatever you want. Just like you can grab your guitar and do whatever you want, or grab your microphone and do whatever you want. It is complete freedom of expression however you want to put it on the table.
BY: As a child, picking up a skateboard, the first thing that was mainstream that involved skateboarding was Tony Hawk video games. The soundtrack in those early games was pretty influential in what you pick up. That stems into skate videos, too. We just kind of record everything around it because it is all part of the same circle.
FL: Our band started by taking it piece by piece. One day, he asked Dan, he asked Brady, they had patience with me, we found Pat, and all of the pieces started stacking on top of each other just right.
EB: It’s been a decade since the beginning of Turnstile. Take us back: how did you guys get your start in 2010?
BY: Franz and I were touring with the band Trapped Under Ice that I played drums in. He had never really played bass before. But, basically, our guitar player Brady and I had just assembled the team. I asked Franz to play bass in it and he picked up our friend’s bass and started trying to figure it out. In the next year or two, we played a few shows and would get together and jam and make music here and there. Once we got the opportunity to start playing more, we would just get together more and more. It all started from making a few songs, assembling a team, and going from there.
EB: How have the past 10 years been? Any highlights over the span of the decade?
PM: I think for me, one of the bigger highlights was to play these shows in super far off places. The first time that I toured with Turnstile was when we went to Australia, and that was a day of flying across the globe. You’re like, “Aw, man, this would be a cool vacation.” But then, you see that the shows are really great and you find friends so far across the world from you, and you’re just there to play music. But, at the same time, you’re at the beach every day, having so much fun in an entirely different part of the globe. Europe was a big shock, but when we got that far, and we could still have fun together, that was a highlight for me for sure.
FL: Straight up. I think my favorite part is, honestly, just riding around with all five of the people in our band. No matter where we go — if we go that far away or play in Chicago — I still have the same amount of fun when I get in the van or plug my instrument in. I just get to play these songs and just execute them however I feel because they trust me to do whatever. Every time we get to play is a sick highlight, whether I play worse than the night before or not, just speaking on me. No matter what happens, it’s always great. Because we’ve always got each other, it’s sick.
BY: I think a highlight for me is the task that comes every time we make new music. It is this constant outlet you have to put your life at that time into some sort of product, or project. Every time we get together to make new music and unlock the things that we’re feeling at the time, that is always evolving. That’s the best part for me, I think.
EB: Speaking of roots, do you remember the first time you picked up a pack of Ernie Ball Slinkys?
FL: I remember. I remember it exactly. It was maybe my third or second year of practicing the guitar before Turnstile really started going to learn how to play shows. Jared, that plays bass in Trapped Under Ice, taught me how to restring his guitar, because I didn’t know how to restring a bass yet. He taught me exactly how to do it and I remember because I still play the exact strings to this day. The purple .110 bass strings. I never even knew what the gauges were until later on in life. All I knew was that purple bass strings were the bass strings to get. I always knew what the purple bass strings were and I always knew that they were what I learned to restring a guitar with. They tune a little lower. I never understood why he played the big strings, I just knew that he always did. Then I realized it was because the bigger strings tune a little lower and keep the tension. When I picked up the strings for him, when he was teaching me how to do it, I thought, “This has to be the regular strings that people play.”
EB: While we’re on the subject of gear, what gear can’t you live without on tour? What’s your current setup?
PM: I can’t live without a noise suppressor. I can’t live without a pair of pliers… which normally end up… not in my hands, somehow.
Franz and Brendan laugh.
PM: What else do I need?
FL: I don’t know, keep it to yourself.
PM: Yeah, that’s for me.
FL: Just strings!
BY: I can’t live without guitar strings.
PM: Strings and some wire cutters and I’m good, man.
FL: I might need a cable, ‘cause I break ‘em. But strings, for sure.
PM: You need an extra strap on ya’.
BY: An extra strap-on, yeah.
EB: Franz, tell us about your Ernie Ball Music Man basses.
FL: I’ve got a couple of Stingrays. But, the very first one I got is the one: the mustang red Sabre. It is honestly the heaviest guitar I own, but it’s my favorite one. The neck never dips.
EB: What can fans expect from Turnstile in 2020? Anything big coming up, more new music?
PM: I think the future is always a mystery, but I think that we are constantly trying to work on new things. Whether it is new music or new shows we can put together in different ways and stuff. I think there’s a lot in store in both those fields.
BY: The Turnstile basketball and bowling team has gone to new heights, too. We’re welcoming challengers in 2020.
FL: You know it!
EB: How would you sum it up for Metal Monday?
FL: Simultaneous “uhs.”
BY: Music rocks.
PM: Music rocks!
FL: Music does rock.
Take a listen to Turnstile‘s latest release, Share A View — a collaboration with Mall Grab — if you want to hear a new approach to their sound. For that classic hardcore goodness, listen to Time & Space. Or, skip straight to the front of the line and see them live in concert by grabbing tickets on their official website.
Featured images: Angela Owens