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Heavy Band of the Year Turnstile Refused to Play By the Rules, Proved Rock’s Not Dead in 2021

Brendan Yates on the band's stellar Glow On album, dynamic live shows, and genre-defying mentality

Turnstile, photo by Jimmy Fontaine
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    Our 2021 Annual Report continues with the announcement of Turnstile as our Heavy Band of the Year, and a video interview with the group’s singer, Brendan Yates. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2021. You can find it all in one place here.


    Anyone subscribing to the notion that “rock is dead” hasn’t yet been exposed to Turnstile. The Baltimore act is injecting new life into rock music by refusing to bow to any conventions, whether on the stage or in the studio.

    Turnstile’s live shows were already the stuff of legend before the calendar flipped to 2021, evoking the excitement and unpredictability of hardcore’s ’80s heyday for a new generation of music fans.

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    Having earned critical acclaim with their 2018 sophomore album, Time & Space, the band continued its sonic evolution on its stellar 2021 album, Glow On (which we named No. 4 on our Top Albums of 2021 list). After playing a fall outing supporting $uicide Boy$, Turnstile will deliver their high-energy live shows on a recently announced 2022 headlining North American tour, with tickets available here.

    Prior to the release of Glow On, Turnstile offered up a taste of what’s to come on the EP and short film Turnstile Love Connection, containing four songs that also appear on the full-length. The EP’s lead single “Mystery” (also Glow On‘s leadoff track) is as infectious a rock song as any that was released in 2021, with its trippy intro, Nirvana-like guitar riffs, and sing-along hardcore chorus.

    While Turnstile’s music is rooted in hardcore, Glow On defies any genre conventions, offering up a musical smoothie that blends punk, grunge, psychedelic, R&B, shoegaze, and more into one of the most unique albums released in recent memory. From the explosive “Blackout” to the chill vibe of “No Surprise,” the LP serves up a wide array of delectable flavors.

    On the occasion of Turnstile being named our Heavy Band of the Year, singer Brendan Yates checked via video Zoom to speak with Heavy Consequence.

    The vocalist explained that the pandemic allowed the band more time to lay down and perfect the tracks on Glow On. “It opened up a lot of time to be alone and be isolated sitting with the songs… and trying different things,” recalls Yates. “I think it opened up this window that typically we wouldn’t have because we’d be so busy with traveling or other life things that tend to get in the way. And I think that window of time allowed for the ideas to flourish a little more.”

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    As for the band’s undefinable sound, Yates says, “I think we all, as people, are inspired by all kinds of different music… and try to never close off or limit where those inspirations come from. And they’re always shifting and changing, as well… It’s that openness to embrace what feels good when writing a song, and also that freedom to try things and try sounds that maybe are a little unfamiliar.”

    If you haven’t been to a Turnstile concert yet, one search on YouTube will show you the nonstop action and chaos that surrounds the band. Yates and company are constantly sharing the stage with their fans, who keep the stage-diving going throughout the entire show. “It’s all a little blurry being up there, with lights and bodies and all those kind of things,” remarks Yates, “but it feels good to have that as an outlet to play songs and have people have the freedom to do whatever they want with this music… whether its to get onstage and dance all silly or to just jump around or to just chill.”

    Congratulations to Turnstile for being named our 2021 Heavy Band of the Year. Watch our full interview with Yates above, and pick up tickets to the group’s spring tour featuring support from Ceremony, Citizen, Ekulu, Truth Cult, and Coco & Clair Clair.

    Trouble viewing the video interview above? Watch on YouTube.

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