Photography Jimmy Fontaine

you need to listen to baltimore hardcore band turnstile

With an average of eight words per song, you’ll be singing along in no time!

by Hattie Collins
16 February 2018, 10:30am

Photography Jimmy Fontaine

You could be forgiven for thinking that ‘turnstile’ is that annoying metal contraction that stops you getting into the loos at Euston station for free. Well, you’re right, but you’re also wrong. Turnstile is also a rather brilliant hardcore band from Baltimore. There are five of them -- Brendan, Brady, Franz, Daniel and Pat -- and they make really great, really loud, really fast music. It’s best experienced live, and it sounds pretty great on record too; their vast, thrashing instrumentation (guitar, drums, done) perfectly paired with lead singer Brendan’s broad roar that roams from furious to introspective to, occasionally, almost still. This is a punk band of many parts. Just listen to their tumultuously terrific new album, Time & Space, out 23 February, and you’ll see what we mean. i-D met lead singer Brendan Yates to find out more about the band making big ass rock music about love, life, angst, aggression and discos. Here’s what we discovered.

Photography Jimmy Fontaine

They’re from Baltimore. But not “The Wire” Baltimore.
“That’s my favourite TV show but I actually live a little closer to DC,” lead singer Brendan tells us. “The area I grew up in, with Brady who plays guitar, it’s pretty close to Baltimore City but it’s removed enough so we have woods surrounding us.” He’s actually in Maryland right now. “It’s really cold. Freezing.” Gross.

They like the woods.
“I really like the woods,” says Brendan. “The woods are so important.”

Turnstile could be the hardcore Hanson (but they’re not brothers).
“We grew up on the same street but we didn’t know each other. I knew he lived at the top of the street, but I was 10 and he was 7, and I didn’t want to hang out with a 7-year-old. But I saw him come down the street one time in a Rancid shirt and I was like, ‘This guy is cool’. I asked if he played music and he did so we started playing music together. My other friend across the street played guitar and my friend Mark played bass, so it all naturally came together to form a neighbourhood band. Every single day after school we would be writing songs and practicing the same songs 1000 times for no reason -- we didn’t have any shows but we were so excited to play.”

They don’t like Donald Trump.
“It goes without saying that it’s just a terrible situation as far as who he is and the kind of stuff he preaches,” says Brendan. “What better way to distract yourself from that stuff and bring people together than to play music in environments where people can come together.”

Their sound is loud.
Really, really loud. And really, really fast. “Big ass rock,” is Brendan’s explanation. “We have total control to create and play the way we want, forever.”

They’re not just ‘a band’.
Over the last three years I’ve done so many things that have enriched my life; starting a record label, putting out bands, writing music and playing basements and festivals. We always switch up what we’re doing and never feel like we’re in a routine. We always make sure there is progression in everything we do. And not on the scale of more people at shows or more records being sold, but in the sense of being open and creating opportunities.”

Diplo is on their new album. But we won’t hold it against them.
They have a song called Right to Be and the Major Lazer frontman plays synth on it. “He had reached out and expressed his love for us as a band and posted about us, messaged us a few times. When it came time to do this song, we just wrote him to see if he wanted to play this part on the song and he was totally up for it.”

They’re men of few words. Some songs have, like, eight words in the whole thing.
“Some songs are more in-depth,” counters Brendan, “but a lot of times for me if something is a strong enough idea and can speak to me in a certain way then I don’t need a big description. I definitely appreciate the idea that sometimes in music certain messages or feelings can be conveyed through very little words and sometime even no words as far as how things feel musically can make people feel. Sometimes less words can be more powerful than a million words.”

Which is why Disco has no words whatsoever!
“It’s an instrumental, but it’s definitely about being at a disco.”

When playing in Leipzig last year they invited Syrian refugee kids to watch the show.
“The leader of a youth organisation came with 20-30 refugees. The energy of the show was just special; lots of extreme different walks of life coming together and enjoying themselves in an extreme way. Shows can be very unifying in that way.”

Turnstile is best experienced live.
“The essence of what the band is is the live performance. That’s when that kind of energy is at its peak. We started a band to play music with our friends and the reason any band should be a band is to write songs for the love of the music and for the purpose of expressing yourself. Going out there and having the best possible outlet to express yourself but also having fun and also creating an exciting environment for other people is probably the best thing I can do with my time.”

brendon yates