Electronic / Hip Hop/Rap / Rock
The band was formed in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio by college friends, Tyler Joseph, Nick Thomas and Chris Salih. Tyler came up with the band's name while studying All My Sons by Arthur Miller, a play about a man who must decide what is best for his family after causing the death of 'twenty one pilots' during World War II because he knowingly sent them faulty parts for the good of his business. Tyler explains that this story of moral dilemma was the inspiration for the name of the band. On December 29, 2009, they released their debut, self-titled album and began touring Ohio.
In 2010, the band released two officially unreleased tracks to their SoundCloud account. One, an original song titled, "Time to Say Goodbye" and a cover of "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri. They were originally available for free download, though the option has since been removed.
In mid 2011, Thomas and Salih sequentially left due to busy schedules. Both posted farewell notes on the band's official Facebook page. Joseph was then joined by Josh Dun, former live drummer of House of Heroes.