If punk is what you make of him, Turnstile made him bend, shake, and move at will.
Both lovingly and disparagingly called the “boy band” of American hardcore, in August this year, the fresh Baltimore five put the flag in the mainstream with their third album, “Glow On”.
An exploration of hardcore merged with upbeat synthpop, funk, and Caribbean rhythms, Glow On challenged the fundamentalists of the genre as well as the band’s fans, but the album peaked at # 30 on the Billboard 200, a rare feat. for hardcore performance.
But even more rare is Turnstile’s approach: if you can touch to it, you should be able to dance to it too.
Bathed in sunlight from his bedroom window in Baltimore, frontman Brendan Yates, 31, describes the band’s unorthodox sound – be it the shy new wave guitar riffs from New Heart Design or the steel-toed riffs from Don’t Play – with the mysterious, the cool rest of a Zen master.
“There is no formula for what feels right,” he says via Zoom ahead of the band’s Saturday and Sunday concerts at the Shrine Auditorium.
“Sometimes we try something new for a second and then move on. But I think every idea is worth watering and see if it can be what you imagine it to be in your head. “
Founded in 2010 by high school friends Yeats, Brady Ebert, Daniel Fang, Franz Lyons and Pat McCrory, Turnstile swept through the punk scenes of Baltimore and Washington, spicing up its gangster vocals and rap rock with gangster marak cocktails and flowing synth loops. Shortly after the release of their full-length album Nonstop Feeling in 2016, they signed to Roadrunner Records.
On their 2018 debut major label Time & Space, a nod to the 1972 B-side Ohio Players, Turnstile’s wanderings into soul and R&B left punk purists with an incredulous slap on the internet. However, punk in DMV or in that East Coast pocket where DC, Maryland and Virginia meet was uniquely shaped by go-go, a homebrew offshoot of funk that became popular in the 80s and 90s by artists such as Chuck Brown and Trouble Funk. During the simultaneous rise of go-go and hardcore in DC in the 1980s, future punk luminaries Dave Grohl (at the time of Scream) and Minor Threat’s Ian McKay often attended go-go parties.
“Go-go is our country music,” says Yates. “We have this audio link. Outside people can come and say, “This is not hardcore, this is this is genre!’ People want to protect what they already know. But there is a very flexible approach to music here. “
In the summer of 2020, the band presented their eclectic vision of “Glow On” at Phantom Studios in Gallatin, Tennessee, where they recorded with Mike Elizondo, who has worked with everyone from Dr. Dre to Avenged Sevenfold and Fiona Apple.
“His perspective opened up a whole new dimension of what a song could be,” said Yates, who co-produced the recording with Elizondo.
The band also brought in experimental R&B star Devonte Hines, also known as Blood Orange, to add its sparkle to “Glow On”. At his Los Angeles studio, Hines recorded the lead vocals for the sad, boyish furor of Lonely Dezires and breathed sensuality into the pop ballad Alien Love Call. In the latter case, Yates’ usual growl on the youth team is mitigated by heartache and isolation, emotional areas in which he has begun to feel safe.
“Each person has a unique set of DNA based on their background, inspiration and life experience – and it’s exciting,” says Yates. “We look at music in a similar way.”