My Interview With NEON TREES

Tyler Glenn is the lead vocalist and keyboardist for Neon Trees, a band whose musical roots lay in Provo, Utah. Along with Chris Allen [guitars], Branden Campbell [bass], and Elaine Bradley [drums and backing vocals], Tyler has taken the industry by storm, with recent appearances at SXSW [South by Southwest] and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live. The band’s first single, “Animal,” has also been featured on VH1’s Secrets of Aspen and CW’s Melrose Place.

Rendy: Who is the wildest out of the bunch? And what is the craziest moment all of you have shared together?

Tyler: The wildest? I don’t know, man. I think we all share that pretty well. We kind of pass it around like a disease! We’re pretty wild! The only thing that comes to my mind, right now, is one time we were all in the van and Brandon dared me to run into a Chinese restaurant, take off my shirt and scream, and then run back into the van.

Rendy: Elaine is a beast, and she slays the drums! I know that she started off as a guitarist and then transitioned into the drums. Do you know what inspired the change?

Tyler: Well, Elaine is multi-talented. She is a guitar player, a drummer, and a singer, and she’d love people to know that. She could totally front the band! In the band before Neon Trees, she did half-duty on drums and guitar and singing. And she’s been in other bands where she’s been the front woman. With this particular set-up, we needed a drummer and she’s fantastic. It was never a thing of like we need a girl drummer to make it cool. She’s kind of a sexless drummer, in a way, and she plays like the best of them.

Rendy: You’ve really taken off in the last year? Do you have to pinch yourself?

Tyler: I really do. It’s been almost a good six years since we started this whole thing, it was more of a project which turned into a band that we took seriously. I’m just proud that we believed in it so much and that we didn’t listen to the naysayers. What’s cool is that you recognise this is just the tip, just the beginning of the whole adventure.

Rendy: How personal are your lyrics?
Tyler: They’re very personal, but at the same time I recognise we want to be a guitar pop band with our roots in pop melodies and songs that you can sing along to and feel what we’re singing about. Some bands are cryptic, but that’s not the kind of band Neon Trees wanted to be.

Rendy: Is it weird having crowds sing them back to you?
Tyler: It’s intense to watch. I was that kind of kid, you know, growing up, going to shows, how intense bands were for me and how they became things that were on my heart. I see that now on kids’ faces when they meet us and I love that we’ve become that band for some of those people. What’s trippy is the tattoes, seeing lyrics on peoples’ bodies.

Rendy: Were you keen on “Animal” being used on Glee?
Tyler: Yeah, I think with us there’s no qualms about being a pop rock band. We do have integrity and don’t say yes to everything, our music isn’t just whored out everywhere. But at the same time I think it’s a very funny, interesting show. I was a choir kid so I understand a lot of the inside jokes on the show.

Rendy: Before signing with Mercury, I know you had the opportunity to open with The Killers. What particular elements have really gone up a notch?

Tyler: I’ve noticed that we play tighter, that we execute better. I mean, that happens with time, with any band, I would hope. With us, I think we’ve always played like we were playing for a giant crowd because we wanted to evoke that kind of energy. And so, even when we didn’t know how to play our songs very well, we were just putting on a show. It was important to us. Our musicality is up there with our showmanship, now.

Rendy: The title of your debut album is Habits. How do the songs on the album relate to the title? And without being too self-deprecating, what is your most interesting habit?

Tyler: With the record, we wanted to talk about the habits that we obtain in relationship to our friends, families, and significant others: how we take those habits onto something else, how we treat each other, how we communicate and how we talk to each other. And so, those are the habits we’re talking about. I think that just summed up the record nicely. It’s also a nod to a lyric in the opening track, “Sins of My Youth.” I think it really speaks for the record. As far as a personal habit of mine… I don’t want to be too self-deprecating! I have a habit of not being very nice to myself; so, maybe that’s a habit of mine. I need to be nicer to myself. I’m a lot nicer to everyone else.