While most of his peers were more concerned with big wheels and baseballs, seven-year-old Brady Ebert had already decided that he wanted to play guitar. Not only that — he knew who he wanted to play with: his older neighbor Brendan Yates. Despite the four-year age difference, the two formed a musical bond early on, practicing in another neighbor's basement on a tree-lined street in suburban Maryland. The jam partners were known to bang out covers of Nirvana songs and the like, but Yates recalls that their focus was "making our own weird-sounding music." Even then, the wheels were turning towards an original band.
Fifteen years later, Ebert and Yates are still jamming together, on lead guitar and vocals, respectively — in hardcore sensations Turnstile. Formed in 2010, the band was originally meant to be a creative outlet for Yates while his then-main group, heralded hardcore outfit Trapped Under Ice (for whom he drums), took a break from the rigors of the road. But shit took on a life of its own. Not only did Trapped Under Ice fans rally around Turnstile in a big way, but new fans were drawn into the fold by the group's uniquely contagious music and attitude.
The band — rounded out by bassist Franz Lyons and drummer Daniel Fang — is firmly rooted in hardcore in both mindset and application, but the sounds of Nineties alternative rock radio are heavily represented as well. Elements of Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine and more are seamlessly mixed in with speedy punk and bludgeoning hardcore. "Alternative radio was a big part of my musical background, but I've always liked dance music and things that have a groove, too," Yates enthuses. "Especially David Bowie, Blondie and Talking Heads. I love Devo, too."
Turnstile's greatest weapon isn't their creativity or their riffs, however: It's their sense of fun. The band's concerts are exuberant affairs full of onstage gymnastics, coordinated jump kicks and high-spirited crowd participation. While 2015's Nonstop Feeling was undoubtedly a smash in the heavy-music community, Yates feels like it is nothing compared to their live show. "I feel like no matter how good a recording is, it never fully captures a band's energy," he says. "I can't think of any other environment where I would do the things that I do onstage, or to see people twist and turn their bodies in a similar way. It can't be duplicated."
Yates recalls a particularly memorable gig in Berlin, where the band personally invited local Syrian refugees to attend as their special guests. "We were playing and I could feel that some of the kids who were there were experiencing something that they had never seen or heard before," the singer says. "Clearly their life was nowhere as easy as mine, but it was wild to see these people connect to us and feed off of the energy in the room to the point where they couldn't control themselves."
With a string of EPs and Nonstop Feeling behind them, Turnstile have become hardcore's most buzzed-about band, courted by major labels and playing headlining dates across the world. In 2016, the group signed with Roadrunner Records and are readying a new album for release next year. "We're excited to build on the momentum from Nonstop Feeling and enter a new world with our next LP," Yates says. "We will definitely push the boundaries of energy on this one."
When it comes to why the group works so well, the singer cites one simple reason: friendship. "We're friends first, not bandmates," he explains. "Brady and I have been jamming as far back as I can remember. Franz had never touched a bass when I asked him to join. Daniel is an old friend that I've known since I was 17. I feel really blessed to be in a band with these guys."