Turnstile – How A Local Hardcore Band Made It to the Grammys

The Baltimore-based hardcore punk fusion band, Turnstile, is not only one of my favorite “local bands,” they are now one of this year’s biggest surprise Grammy stories and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Nominated for three awards, Rock Performance for “Holiday” and Rock Song and Metal Performance for the song “Blackout,” what started as a local Do-It-Yourself band with a cult-like following now has admirers showing up to their shows like Billie Eilish, Miguel, and Scott Ian of Anthrax?

Considering the band spent its first decade within the Baltimore/DC hardcore community, playing in community spaces and tiny venues, including churches, the sudden evolution to “rock gods“ and Grammy nods is truly extraordinary. It wasn’t until 2021, when they dropped their third LP, Glow On, that their music “crossed over “to a more mainstream audience. It also scored the number 8 slot on Rolling Stone’s best albums of 2021 list.

But it was 2022 when things really seemed to take off. Between the sold-out tours worldwide, their music in a Taco Bell commercial, late-night show appearances, and an upcoming tour supporting the reunited Blink-182, it’s been a whirlwind year. But, even with all this recognition, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have left their hardcore roots behind.

I want to thank you for letting me c myself
I want to thank you for letting me b myself
I want to thank you for letting me c myself
I want to thank you for letting me b myself


Brendan Yates, the frontman for Turnstile, described his feelings about hardcore and making music in a recent interview with the LA Times: “What drew, and still draws me to [hardcore], is that none of us were musicians. Punk and hardcore are less focused on skill and more on expressing yourself. It’s hard to imagine other communities where you [can have] people come out and support you when you’re really bad at your instrument. The way I taught myself how to play the guitar is wrong — I played with the wrong fingers and stuff like that — but I learned enough to feel good about what I was trying to get out. I think making music is just a shot in the dark. It’s this open canvas.”

And the experimental approach that Turnstile has taken to making music has paid off in several ways. According to Scott Ian, who was interviewed backstage at the Palladium for Turnstile’s tour doc series, Turnstile Love Connection ,“I feel like they revolutionized hardcore again for a whole new generation.” Of course, some hardcore supporters might not see it this way since hardcore started as a counterculture DIY movement, but I like that we are having a conversation about it. And I also really like that Turnstile, representing Baltimore and the DMV, aka DC/MD/VA, will be at the 2023 Grammy awards come February.

Franz Lyons, the bassist/vocalist for Turnstile, put it best in an interview with Revolver, “All we want to do is make music that feels good.” And that’s what really draws me to the band and their live shows. My favorite lyric from “TLC” is, “I want to thank you for letting me see myself. I want to thank you for letting me be myself.” Mainstream fame or not, that’s a “hardcore” sentiment that everyone can get “on board with.” And even if they don’t win come February, in my opinion, they already have.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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