Black and white photo of black guy playing guitar with people all around dancing

I hit up Columbus Native Franz Lyons and asked him about his band Turnstile performing at the sold-out Metallica headlined Rock On the Range festival. Franz replied in regards to the size of the crowd. “I think it will make more sense when I get there…”

Franz was in Los Angeles with Turnstile for the “While We Were Young Festival.” The Baltimore, Maryland based hardcore band just played on a line-up that included Morrissey, the Descendants, A.F.I. and other bands that were too big to play the Legion, Bernie’s or the Hi-Five during Franz’s formative years.

Turnstile has also rocked stages with Sick Of It All, Madball, Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Ignite and New Found Glory off the strength of previous releases Move Through Me, Non-Stop Feeling, Pressure to Succeed and Step To the Rhythm.

Turnstile begins recording an album for Road Runner Records, June 26th. They are recording with William Yip who has worked with Title Fight, Lauryn Hill, Braid and Schoolly D.

I asked Franz why they can rock with both punk and rap legends as well as whatever you call groups like New Found Glory. “Authenticity…one of the five of us is genuinely interested in what else is gong on the stage.” He replied.

During the 15 years I’ve known Franz, he skateboarded with guys from Embassy and  he participated in K.I.A./DJ PRZM Hip Hop crossover, and the Get Right Hip Hop scene. If you have ever participated in youth subculture then Franz is impossible not to like. How did we get from LODFU to Rock on the Range?

Franz seems to have never forgotten the punk enthusiasm that he had when he was 14 and sneaking off to festivals in places like Dayton to see Chubby Fresh and the One Life Crew. “This Cleveland, fat, white dude with a bullet proof vest was singing about straight edge in a room full of what looked like to me crazy people.”

Franz remembers his first festival which did not result in him getting grounded. Franz’s dad, aka Big Frank, has always been supportive. Big Frank is a Vietnam Vet who worked as a custodian for Columbus Public Schools. He mentored troubled youth while listening to the Gap Band, Zapp and Roger, Bootsy Collins and the Ohio Players.

Big Frank always attends Turnstile’s Columbus shows wearing a 5-piece suit.

So maybe Franz gets it from his father. “He might be where I take my queue from…I’m trying to make a difference anywhere that counts,” Franz said.

After some years of skating and going to shows, Franz started a band with his buddy Lil Eric, and then eventually played drums for Triceratops, who were a staple of Columbus DIY from like 2000something to a couple years ago.

Touring the country with your band and skateboarding will build relationships.

Franz started doing merch for Maryland’s Trapped Under Ice. The Trapped Under Ice dudes liked Franz so much that they decided to start Turnstile with him in 2010.

Franz said of his band’s friendships. “The communication in our band is a strong aspect.”

If you watch videos of Turnstile performing they will remind you of Triceratops shows.  You have kids moshing, and stage diving but appearing to be one single organism in pursuit of fun.

Columbus heads will also notice that there is the presence of Polo amidst the jubilation. I had to ask Franz about the Polo banner? His response. “I got into Polo to be honest with you from PRZM, and Camu Tao, They used to rock it all the time. They looked so sick. They always had cool gear on. Going to Bernie’s Rap night, there was always some cool Lo floating around.”

Daymon Dodson aka So What used to say, “You can take the person out of Bernie’s.  But you can’t take the Bernie’s out of the person.”

If you read reviews of Turnstile shows, writers always mention fashion, and youthful rebellious energy. Turnstile is far from a rap metal band. However, there is a strong desire from music writers, and the music industry awaiting Turnstile’s ascension from the underground to an overt Rage Against the Machine role in response to the current regime.

I asked Franz what Turnstile made of this desire some have of his band.

His response. “I align myself against racism. I align myself with sexual equality. I align myself with girl power. Women power. Equality… But I don’t need to preach to you about that.”

There was also the practicality that he is the bass player, and not the singer. “Our ideas are interpreted by one person. Brenden…I don’t think he has to keep pouring his one agenda on you. He may have a feeling about anything else under the sun that he wants to convey in music.”

My guess is that Turnstile believes they can fight the power, and still sing about the human experience.

Or as Franz eloquently stated, “Punk is a way for emotionally tangled people to spit their ideas and feelings out in a very constructive way. “

Turnstile performs Saturday May 20th at Rock on the Range.

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