Ever wonder “How to get my book reviewed”?

Man Reading Books

Man Reading Books/Image Source: Tippy Tricks

So you’ve published your book. Its been edited and published, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get to your potential readers. While starting your marketing campaign usually happens well before your book is finished, getting your first reviews can’t happen until your book is done or in a final draft status.

Many stores won’t carry a small press or self-published book that doesn’t have reviews from a recognizable publication. So how do you get someone to pay attention to your book among all of the hundreds, if not thousands, of submissions they see every month?

City Book Review, publishers of the San Francisco Book Review, Manhattan Book Review and Kids’ BookBuzz all have programs to help you. Kids BookBuzz is only for children, tweens and young adult books, but the other two will take almost any book you have (including children’s books).

So how do you get your book reviewed by the San Francisco Book Review?

If your book is within 90 days of the release date, you can submit it for general review (at no cost). The closer you are to the 90 days, the less of a chance it will have to be reviewed, but you can still start there. The SFBR gets more than 1000 submissions a month, and only reviews 300 or less, so your likelihood of getting your book reviewed in this way is less than 33%. But you can give it a try and see if it gets reviewed.

General Submission Guidelineshttp://www.sanfranciscobookreview.com/submission-guidelines/general-submission/

If your book is more than 90 days past its publication date, or you really want to have it reviewed and don’t want to just hope it’ll get picked up through the general review, you can go through the Sponsored Review program. While there is some dispute about paying for a review, SFBR is a respected outlet like Kirkus or Foreward Reviews and doesn’t offer vanity reviews for payment. You can expect the same level of professionalism from their standard reviews. And they don’t mark sponsored reviews any different than the other reviews.

Get My Book Reviewed from the San Francisco Book Reviewhttp://sanfranciscobookreview.com/submission-guidelines/sponsored-review/

Get My Book Reviewed from the San Francisco Book Review

There are a lot of different options for getting your book reviewed, mostly around how long it takes to get your review back, and if you want more than one or an interview as well.

  • Standard Reviews Take 8-10 weeks for turnaround from the time they receive your book. Starts at $150.00
  • Expedited Reviews Take 3-5 weeks for turnaround from the time they receive your book. Starts at $299
  • Get more than one review for the same book you’ll get a discount on the normal cost of 2 or 3 reviews. Reviews range in price from $150 to $299.
  • Getting a podcast interview for Audible Authors to promote yourself and your book, and you can add an interview to a review package at a discount.

And if you really like your review, you can have it posted on the other publication’s website for $99, or get a new review from a different reviewer. Both can help with your marketing and search engine optimization.

So how do you get your book reviewed by the Manhattan Book Review?

The Manhattan Book Review uses the same format for the San Francisco Book Review. Different audience, so if you’re an East Coast writer, you might be more interested in having the credit from MBR over SFBR. Personal taste is the only difference between the two for reviews. If you are a local SF or Manhattan writer, they will also flag that in your review.

General Review Submission Guidelines for the Manhattan Book Review – http://manhattanbookreview.com/get-my-book-reviewed/general-submission/

Sponsored Review Submission Guidelines for the Manhattan Book Review – http://manhattanbookreview.com/get-my-book-reviewed/sponsored-reviews/

So how do you get your book reviewed by Kids’ BookBuzz?

First thing, all of the reviews for Kids’ BookBuzz are done by children. They are select age appropriate books, but the children read them and write the reviews themselves. The younger children have some help from their parents, but the words are all theirs. Don’t expect any easy reviews either. These kids see a lot of novels, so they know good books when they read them.

General Submission Guidelines for Kids’ BookBuzz http://kidsbookbuzz.com/get-my-book-reviewed-by-a-kid/general-submission/

Sponsored Review Submission Guidelines for Kids’ BookBuzzhttp://kidsbookbuzz.com/get-my-book-reviewed-by-a-kid/sponsored-reviews/

Sound art: album covers by Ai Weiwei, Ed Ruscha and more in pictures

Musicians from Kanye West to Sigur Ros have employed A-list artists to design their album sleeves flick through some of the best

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2017/jan/20/sound-art-album-artist-record-covers-taschen-ai-weiwei-ed-ruscha-keith-haring-takashi-murakami

Sudanese men arrested in Saudi Arabia for supporting ‘stay-at-home’ strikes

Two men could face torture if extradited to Sudan for posting about civil disobedience on Facebook, as Bashir and Saudi kingdom seem to grow closer

Two Sudanese men have been arrested in Saudi Arabia after posting their support for protests in their home country on Facebook, amid signs that ties between the two states are growing stronger following years of tension.

The men, Qasim Mohamed Sid-Ahmed and Al-Waleed Imam Hassan Taha, were allegedly detained while leaving work in Riyadh on 21 December. Their families were told they were being held for a secret investigation but did not explain to them the reason for their arrest.

Sid-Ahmed and Taha were both active online, expressing support for a campaign of stay-at-home strikes, known as the Civil Disobedience, to protest against austerity measures and skyrocketing medicine prices. The protests, which have left Khartoums streets deserted for days at a time, was devised by activists to avoid the bloodshed that occurred during anti-austerity protests in 2013.

Sid-Ahmed and Tahas families believe that the Sudanese government pushed for the two mens arrest in Saudi.

Hes lived here for 18 years and has never broken any laws, Sid-Ahmeds wife Ebitisam, who is a doctor and works at the ministry of health, told the Guardian. Im extremely scared they will extradite him to Sudan.

The prospect of extradition is a bleak one: Sid-Ahmed and Taha will likely face severe punishment and possibly torture if they return.

This is what were scared of the most, Tahas wife, Nahid said in an interview via phone with the Guardian. They are known for torturing people. Some people have died in torture.

The Saudi embassy in Washington had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publishing.

These arrests reflect the warming of relations between the dictator Omar al-Bashirs government in Sudan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Relations had been fraught for some time due to Bashirs close ties to Iran but as sanctions began to pinch Sudan has attempted pivot closer to the Gulf states.

Sudan signed up to join in the Saudi-led airstrike campaign in Yemen in 2015 and was one of only three states to sever ties with Iran when the Saudi embassy in Tehran was torched in retaliation for the execution of prominent Shia cleric.

Elsadig Elsheikh, director of the Global Justice Program at the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley, said the Sudanese government was hoping the Saudis would lobby US government to ease sanctions.

The Sudanese regime hoped that rebuilding the relationship with Saudi Arabia would help the regime, he said, by weilding their influence in Washington DC and lifting the unofficial blockage, of millions of US dollars in remittances from Sudanese expatriates working in Saudi.

These arrests are also not the first of their kind in Saudi. Sudanese journalist Waleed al-Hussein al-Dood was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2015 and held for almost a year without charges. He ran the independent news website Al-Rakoba, which is critical of the Sudanese government.

Certainly the improvement in relations between the two governments doesnt bode well for any Sudanese opposition folks living in Saudi Arabia, said Adam Coogle, a Saudi Arabia researcher for Human Rights Watch told the Guardian.

Sid-Ahmed and Tahas family and friends have established a petition and website to help push for their release.

Their families are struggling without them as both men have children with severe illnesses. Sid-Ahmeds daughter was in hospital with renal disease while he was arrested and Tahas youngest son has Downs syndrome. Due to guardianship laws in the country, its difficult for the women to move around and get the necessary medicines for their children without their husbands.

Im scared for my safety, Nahid said. I dont know if my children will come home if they go out.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/13/sudan-men-arrested-saudi-arabia-strikes

Words for solace and strength: poems to counter the election fallout and beyond

What poets can help us get through a Trump administration? Here are five that serve as signals that good exists, and that someone is awake and listening

Audre Lorde once wrote that poetry is not a luxury, and right now it is a necessity. What kind of poetry can get us through a Donald Trump presidency? Well need satire and spitting vitriol. Well need rallying cries. Well need reminders of human dignity.

Each poet here has struggled with the relationship between poetry and action, with the question of poetrys relevance in a time of crisis. Adrienne Rich said: A poem cant free us from the struggle for existence, but it can uncover desires and appetites buried under the accumulating emergencies of life. These are words carefully chosen not for solace but for strength, poems that dip into the reservoirs of literature to find fuel for the day ahead. They are, to borrow from WH Audens famous poem September 1, 1939, ironic points of light that flash out wherever the Just / exchange their messages. Poems that serve as signals through the ages that good exists, and that someone is awake and listening.

Gwendolyn Brooks Langston Hughes

Gwendolyn Brooks. Photograph: AP

Gwendolyn Brooks brief poems are like talismans to carry close to your skin for protection and comfort. I discovered this poem last summer after watching police and protesters clashing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and videos of police shootings played on repeat. Against horrific violence and discrimination in another era, Langston Hughes offered Brooks a helmsman, hatchet, headlight. In her characteristic condensed brilliance, Brooks pays tribute to a guide who was both a fighter and who danced. Yesterday, I thought of her the same way, in our need for emotion and action, remedial fears and muscular tears.

Langston Hughes

is merry glory

Is saltatory.

Yet grips his right of twisting free.

Has a long reach,

Strong speech,

Remedial fears,

Muscular tears.

Holds horticulture

In the eye of the vulture

Infirm profession.

In the Compression

In mud and blood and sudden death

In the breath

Of the holocaust he

Is helmsman, hatchet, headlight.


One restless in the exotic time! and ever,

Till the air is cured of its fever.

Adrienne Rich What Kind of Times Are These

Adrienne Rich devoted her lifes work to investigating the relationship between poetry and politics. Here she cites Berthold Brechts line What kind of times are these, when to speak of trees is almost a crime, for it is a kind of silence about so many horrors! The bald hue and cry of Brechts politics is unfashionable now as it was when Rich wrote this poem in the 1990s. Rich knows this, and issues instead a disquieting warning. Claudia Rankine wrote recently of Rich in the New Yorker that her poems are a chronicle of what it means to risk the self in order to give the self. Here she is offering to lead us in that endeavor.

What Kind of Times Are These

Theres a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows

near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted

who disappeared into those shadows.

Ive walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but dont be fooled

this isnt a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,

our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own ways of making people disappear.

I wont tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods

meeting the unmarked strip of light

ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:

I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I wont tell you where it is, so why do I tell you

anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these

to have you listen at all, its necessary

to talk about trees.

Nayyirah Waheed Some words build houses in your throat

Yesterday, Nayyirah Waheed tweeted a poem that spoke to a mood of alert exhaustion: the bright tired. the wise tired. the tired that always comes before. a universal shift the kind of tired that is alive. Waheeds poems move in fragments; her book, salt,is a collection of thoughts that build to a quiet crescendo against all the forces of racism, misogyny and xenophobia that were at work in this election. The droplet lines call out to care for what is most imperiled, and how words can keep us going.

Some words build houses in your throat

some words build houses in your throat. and

they live there. content and on fire.

Heres another of Waheeds poems, which she posted on November 9:

Margaret Atwood Men with the Heads of Eagles

Margaret Atwood. Photograph: Amit Lennon for the Guardian

Against the boorishness of Trump, we women need Margaret Atwoods wry feminist humor, here taking up the story of Circe, the sorceress who turned Odysseus men into pigs. With a magic, self-sufficient eye, Atwood looks straight through the type of man that is common as flies, sees their hubris melt, come apart, fall into the ocean. Not all men there are the ones left over / the ones who have escaped from these mythologies barely with their lives.

Men with the heads of eagles

no longer interest me

or pig-men, or those who can fly

with the aid of wax and feathers

or those who take off their clothes

to reveal other clothes

or those with skins of blue leather

or those golden and flat as a coat of arms

or those with claws, the stuffed ones

with glass eyes; or those

hirerarchic as greaves and steam-engines.

All these I could create, manufacture,

or find easily: they swoop and thunder

around this island, common as flies,

sparks flashing, bumping into each other,

on hot days you can watch them

as they melt, come part,

fall into the ocean

like sick gulls, dethronements, plane crashes.

I search instead for the others,

the ones left over,

the ones who have escaped from these

mythologies with barely their lives;

they have real faces and hands, they think

of themselves as

wrong somehow, they would rather be trees.

Muriel Rukeyser Poem

Muriel Rukeyser was not subtle but torrid in her political energy; she saw American poetry as part of a culture in conflict. This poem, from 1968, seems eerily prescient of our contemporary networked lives, with its use of the word devices and in its description of information overload. And yet she gets down to work, tries by any means / to reach the limits of ourselves / to reach beyond ourselves. Rukeyser is not sanguine about the triumph of these efforts; she brackets the poem with I lived in the first century of these wars, implying it will not be the last such century. I love this poems plainness, its matter-of-fact tone despite its underlying sadness, and its dialectic between the work of day and the relief of night, sleep, empathy and comfort, and the short exhortation to wake again.


I lived in the first century of world wars.

Most mornings I would be more or less insane,

The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,

The news would pour out of various devices

Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.

I would call my friends on other devices;

They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.

Slowly I would get to pen and paper,

Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.

In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,

Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,

Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.

As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,

We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,

To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile

Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,

Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means

To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,

To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.

Have you been reading poetry to find comfort in these extraordinary times, whether to find comfort or to propel you to action? Tell us in the comments.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/10/poetry-trump-presidency-gwendolyn-brooks-margaret-atwood

Libraries full of human ‘books’ are spreading across the country.

What would happen if you sat down and had an open and honest conversation with someone with completely opposing views?

Could it bring you closer together?

The Human Library Organization is counting on it.

In this day and age, it may seem like getting two people with different views together to discuss them is a recipe for disaster. Just read the comment section on any online post on a heated topic and you’re bound to wish you hadn’t. Political division and the ability to hide behind a screen and shout your thoughts through your fingertips has encouraged an “I’m right, you’re wrong” discourse that seldom opens doors for productive dialogue.

Human Libraries where actual people are on loan to readers instead of books are a way to highlight the common ground.

At a Human Library, people volunteer to become “books” and make their experiences open and available. “Readers” are encouraged to ask them questions freely, and they’ll get honest answers in return. There’s no judgment, and no questions are off-limits.

You won’t find people talking over each other. You won’t find nasty comments or political agendas, and you won’t lose faith in humanity. At the Human Library, you might actually feel better about the world you live in. You might even make a new friend!

The human “books” consist of people who have been marginalized or discriminated by society.

“Certain communities are being pinpointed as the ‘bad people’ because they believe different, or live different, or eat different, or look different, or have a different color, or ethnic or religious background,” said Ronni Abergel, the Human Library Organization’s founder.

Abergel has set out to counter that by building a space for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.

Some of the “books” readers may find at a Human Library include a Muslim, a Jew, a cancer survivor, a recovering alcoholic, a police officer, a refugee, someone living with Alzheimer’s, a veteran, a teacher, and the list goes on.

From Michigan to Connecticut to Texas to Arkansas, Human Library events are growing with 30 new U.S. partners having joined in the past month alone.

Abergel knows the rise in interest isn’t a coincidence. There’s a consistent theme he sees in the applications he receives daily: the negative and fearful tone of the election.

“The tone of the election has made it important for many to set up a Human Library to counter and to show that this is not who we are,” he said.

In a world that seems to focus on controversy instead of compassion, it can be difficult to identify our shared humanity.

Human Libraries help to remind us there really is more that unites us than divides us. And as events now spread throughout 82 countries, with Human Libraries even set to launch soon in Pakistan and Jordan, you can tell that is a shared feeling.

“We can spend billions and billions on trying to build up homeland security and our safety, but real safety comes from having positive relations to other groups in your community,” said Abergel.

“Real safety is not going to come from building walls. Its going to come from reaching out and getting to know each other.”

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/libraries-full-of-human-books-are-spreading-across-the-country?c=tpstream

Study links behavior in kindergarten to adult success

(CNN)In our household, we’re still talking about the critically acclaimed box office smash “Inside Out,” Pixar’s animated look at the emotions inside a child’s brain. It came up most recently when we watched Serena Williams cruise to another victory at this year’s Wimbledon, and my youngest daughter, age 7, remarked that her “Joy” (the character who controls happiness in the movie) must be going wild. During the match, Serena’s “Angry” must have been at her brain’s control panel, we all agreed.

I thought of the movie recently as I learned about a new study that showcases just how critical it can be for a child to be able to understand emotions and relate to the world.
    Every parent intuitively knows it’s a good thing to teach their child how to share and play well with others and how to deal with emotions like anger and sadness, but do most of us have any sense of just how important these so-called social and emotional skills can be to our child’s long-term success?



      Is it OK to discipline someone else’s child?


    Dickens said parents can play games like “Red light, green light” and “Freeze tag,” which help kids learn how to control their bodies, and can help them learn how to control their thoughts and emotions.
    Another way to practice building “grit and resilience and empathy” in kids is spending time reading with them, she said.
    “The only way to accelerate the life experience process, since they’re just kids and don’t have a lot of life experiences, is to go on a journey learning from other people’s life experiences,” she said.
    “So when you read a book with your children, ask them questions about how the main character might be feeling or what motivates the main character or what you would do if you were in their shoes.”

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Dickens was not involved in the new kindergarten study but said she wanted to shout the findings “from the rooftop.”
    “This study (is) replicating what we already know to be true, which is that (emotional intelligence) has possibly the greatest correlation to school readiness and life success, and that’s why it’s something that we really want to invest in when it comes to raising and growing our kids.”
    What do you think is the best way to teach children strong social and emotional skills? Share your thoughts with Kelly Wallace on Twitter @kellywallacetv or CNN Parents on Facebook.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/13/health/kindergarten-social-skills-adult-success-study-feat/index.html

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them review JK Rowling goes steampunk

    The latest film from Harry Potter author Rowlings wizarding world is a wonderfully enjoyable adventure featuring Eddie Redmayne as a magizoologist who stumbles into a dark magic adventure in New York

    Weve never needed cheering up more; though on the strictly escapist level, this film is maybe compromised by making one of its characters an obnoxious rich New York chump, a charmless lump, or do I mean grump, reliant on his fathers money and nursing political ambitions. Hes been mentioned as a future president, says someone. Surely not…

    That entertainment enchanter JK Rowling has come storming back to the world of magic in a shower of supernatural sparks – and created a glorious fantasy-romance adventure, all about the wizards of prohibition-era America and the diffident wizarding Brit who causes chaos in their midst with a bagful of exotic creatures. Its a lovely performance from Eddie Redmayne who is a pretty fantastic beast himself. Theres a moment when he has to whisper an errant animal into submission and his contortions would put Andy Serkis to shame.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/13/fantastic-beasts-review-jk-rowling-eddie-redmayne-harry-potter

    How to cope with loneliness | Oliver Burkeman

    The new spin on loneliness is that we ought to welcome it, in modest doses

    Loneliness is everywhere in the world of psychology these days the subject of so many studies, articles and talks that you sometimes wish the loneliness researchers would go away, so you could just get some damn time to yourself. Perhaps you knew that loneliness can be lethal: its linked to heart disease, insomnia and depression, and is a better predictor than obesity of an early death.

    But the new spin on loneliness is that we ought to welcome it, in modest doses. As long as we then do what we should do reconnect with people then loneliness is a good thing, the German psychologist Maike Luhmann told the US website Vox. This is a sign from our psychological systems that theres something off. Its a biological warning system that evolved over millennia, alerting us to potentially dangerous levels of isolation. True, isolation isnt so dangerous today: a friendless Londoner is less likely to starve, or be eaten, than a friendless prehistoric hunter-gatherer. But theres a reason the pang of loneliness hurts so much.

    This notion gets greeted with surprise loneliness, a good thing? but the surprising thing is that we ever imagined otherwise. Why would we have developed this response to isolation if it didnt serve some purpose? (As the psychology writer Melissa Dahl points out, the same can be said for boredom, a warning that you need more meaning in your life, and for anxiety, which helps prepare for potential threats.) This becomes obvious if you consider physical pain. A throbbing ache in your abdomen isnt pleasant, but its a good thing if it prompts you to head to the doctors and address whatevers causing it. In programming parlance, pain isnt a bug; its a feature.

    If we tend to resist thinking about emotions in this way as warning bells thats probably because it sounds like dispensing blame. Telling lonely people they ought to get out more seems to imply its their fault theyre lonely. Likewise, some forms of depression are a rational response to a bad situation you need to address: maybe its time to leave a relationship, or confront an inner conflict. But wed rather not hear that; blaming achemical imbalance seems less daunting. We treat depression as the problem, when its often better thought of as a symptom.

    The nasty twist in this is that loneliness, like depression, can turn chronic. A vicious circle begins. You come to see your surroundings as hostile theyre making you feel bad, after all so you respond to others in unfriendly ways, or avoid contact altogether. (Thats your early warning system on the blink: in Paleolithic times, it might have helped a highly isolated person to be hyper-alert to threats, but not any more.) This kind of loneliness demands a skilful response: you need to heed the warning bell, while not heeding the thoughts to which it gives rise, telling you to pull away. Reach out, even if it feels unappealing. Once again, the analogy with physical pain is helpful. Surgerys rarely appealing, either, but sometimes its exactly what you need.


    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/11/how-to-cope-with-loneliness-oliver-burkeman

    Leonard Cohen obituary

    Canadian singer, songwriter, novelist and poet revered for works including the song Hallelujah

    It is a remarkable testament to the scope of popular music that Leonard Cohen could ever have been filed under the headings of rock or pop. A poet and novelist as well as a songwriter, Cohen, who has died aged 82, was as much a literary figure as a musical one.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/11/leonard-cohen-obituary

    How Twenty One Pilots charted a course for success – BBC News

    Image copyright Jabari Jacobs
    Image caption Twenty One Pilots: drummer Josh Dun (left) and singer Tyler Joseph

    “I feel like we’ve got the coolest people listening to our music,” says Josh Dun, drummer in Twenty One Pilots.

    “The type of people who would call us out if we did something dumb. They’d know if we just phoned in a show or a song. They keep us on our toes.”

    These days, those toes barely touch the ground.

    Twenty One Pilots have played 128 shows so far this year. On Friday, they begin the first of two sold-out nights at London’s Alexandra Palace.

    Almost by stealth, they’ve become the year’s biggest breakthrough band.

    The momentum began with Stressed Out, a rock-rap ode to the innocence of childhood (“Used to dream of outer space, but now they’re laughing at our face / Saying, ‘Wake up, you need to make money'”).

    Released in January, it reached number two in the US and gave the band their first UK hit. But things really took off when they contributed a song, Heathens, to Warner Bros’ anti-superhero movie Suicide Squad.

    Eerie and atmospheric, it took singer Tyler Joseph’s prevailing concern – the demons faced by people with mental health issues – and applied it to the film’s cast of villains and outcasts.

    Since its debut in June, the song has been streamed more than 368 million times, arguably becoming more successful than the critically-derided film it hails from.

    “I don’t know about that,” laughs Dun. “I enjoyed the film – we went and saw it opening night in Alabama with our crew. It was a cool thing, hearing our song in a movie.”

    Media captionHighlights from Twenty One Pilots’ set at the Reading and Leeds festival 2016.

    Unusually for a soundtrack submission, Heathens wasn’t a cast-off or an after-thought, but a specially-tailored original.

    “It was the first song we did for any sort of soundtrack, so we approached it the exact same way as we would writing a song for our own album,” says Dun.

    “Then, if they didn’t like it or want it, we could use it for our next record.

    “Luckily they loved it. We didn’t have to make any changes or sacrifices, which was a really good feeling.”

    That stubborn refusal to compromise is the key to Twenty One Pilots’ success.

    They turned down record deals until their third album, resisted industry pressure to change their sound and acted as their own roadies long after they started selling out large venues.

    It all stems from a manifesto they dreamt up in their early 20s, when the duo still lived with their parents in the mid-western college town of Columbus, Ohio.

    “When I got out of High School, it was my mission to play music and I figured networking was the best way to do it,” says Dun, filling in the band’s back-story.

    “So I got a job at a music store and became friends with this guy Chris who invited me out to a gig – and I loved everything about it, except I wasn’t playing drums.

    Image caption The band’s name comes from Arthur Millers’ play All My Sons, in which a businessman sells faulty airplane parts during World War 2, resulting in the death of 21 US servicemen

    The band was an early incarnation of Twenty One Pilots. When Dun and Joseph met after the show, they instantly hit it off.

    “We got together three days later and we stayed up all night talking about our visions and dreams,” says Dun. “We were both very vulnerable. but we just opened up to each other.

    “I remember talking about what we believe [they are both committed Christians] but also the concerns and doubts that we had in ourselves and how the industry works. We wanted to switch up the way people formulate a song, or put on a live show.

    “I left that day feeling, ‘This is a guy I want to be friends with for the rest of my life’. The music world seemed so big, but it seemed like something we could tackle, and tackle together.”

    The problem was that Twenty One Pilots still had a drummer, Chris Salih, the very same person who had introduced Dun and Joseph. When he left in 2011 citing financial pressures, Dun was immediately drafted in.

    Soon after, bassist Nick Thomas also quit to attend college, and the band were forced to reshape their sound, with Dun triggering samples and backing tapes to flesh out their live shows.

    The pared down line-up also indulged their eclectic musical tastes, incorporating elements of reggae, rap, rock and piano pop into their songs (the only genre they wouldn’t touch is “southern American country”, Dun says).

    The results don’t fit into any preconceived category – they’re simply listed as “alternative” on iTunes – but it makes perfect sense to a teen fan base who’ve grown up in the anything-goes streaming era.

    Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption The band have earned a reputation for dynamic and dramatic live shows

    Despite that, the band were told to smooth out their sound for mainstream consumption. It’s a topic they address on the single Lane Boy.

    “They say, ‘Stay in your lane, boy’, but we go where we want to,” sings Joseph as he plays, almost defiantly, the ukulele.

    Later, he protests at the “heartless” songs on Top 40 radio, adding: “Don’t trust a song that’s flawless”.

    “I never want there to be a perception that music hasn’t done anything for us,” says Dun. “Music changed my life, and it changed Tyler’s life. But there’s also music that doesn’t mean anything, and doesn’t provoke any sort of thought or desire to get better – and that’s something we both agreed that we wanted to talk about.”

    Accordingly, the band’s current album is themed around a character called Blurryface, who is essentially the physical manifestation of Joseph’s anxiety and insecurity.

    On stage, he turns into the character by smearing black make-up over his face and neck – representing the suffocating effect of his neuroses.

    Dun, meanwhile, has been known to play his drums from inside the audience, sitting on a platform held aloft by fans.

    Image copyright Jabari Jacobs
    Image caption At the age of 12 “I walked to the music store every day and played drums,” says Dun

    They operate like a rock band, but neither musician plays guitar. Yet they seem to have stumbled onto a way to reinvigorate a genre which has languished in the doldrums for the best part of a decade.

    In the US, where Billboard compiles charts for every conceivable sub-strata of music, Twenty One Pilots have soared in categories like adult contemporary, mainstream rock, pop songs, trendsetters and even dance.

    “It’s been real crazy,” admits Dun.

    “Looking back to when Tyler and I first met and started talking about what we wanted to accomplish, I feel like we’re at a place now where we’ve surpassed even those dreams and visions.

    “It’s really cool… because there wasn’t a second option or a Plan B.”

    Twenty One Pilots’ latest album, Blurryface, is out now on Fuelled By Ramen. They play Alexandra Palace in London on Friday 11 and Sunday 13 November.

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