Hear Magazine speaks with Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees
By Kevin Tshiamala
Multi-platinum group Neon Trees will celebrate the release of their new studio album, Pop Psychology, with a massive North American headline tour. Pop Psychology, which will be released April 22nd on Island Def Jam, is available now for pre-order HERE. The new album continues Neon Trees’ exploration of new wave, smart pop and dance music, resulting in their most refined album to date. The band recorded the collection in Cabo San Lucas, Los Angeles, and Provo with Tim Pagnotta, who also produced their smash hits “Animal” and “Everybody Talks.” Hear got a chance to catch up with lead singer of Neon Trees, Tyler Glenn.
Hear Magazine: So you guys start your tour here in May. What’s your favorite thing about touring and what do you dislike the most?
Tyler Glenn: I just like being out and being out there. Playing shows is one of my favorite things to do. It’s probably my favorite thing to do in the band. When we don’t do it for a while, I get that itch to get back out to perform. My least favorite thing…after a few months, you know being around the same people, it’s like a family, so you get a little tired eventually. Those are like the standard things…We’ve worked so hard to try to get here and be a touring band. Being a touring band for the last four or five years has been excellent, so we’re stoked.
Hear Magazine: How did you link up with your opening bands, Smallpools and Nightmare and the Cat?
Tyler Glenn: Smallpools and Nightmare and the Cat are both really cool. They’re kind of small, but really cool buzzy band. We thought that they had a unique sound. I always look for bands that can bring energy to the show instead of slow down the show. I like to have the crowd warm by the time we go on. Also, I really think that our fans and their fans will merge together really well. So it makes a lot of sense.
HM: So Pop Psychology is coming out here soon, in a little less than a month. To those who paid attention, they know that you personally went through a tough time in the last few years and as a result came this great album, Pop Psychology. Can you speak on how your life in the past few years has influenced the album?
TG: I went through some heavy therapy. I decided to speak to someone other than my friends and my Mom basically, so I went to a professional. It was a really cool eye opening experience to talk to someone without judgment and to also unleash things and not worry about them going and telling someone or whatever. It was this nice release that I had never had quite like it. So when I started writing for the record I ended up writing it during those sessions. So a lot of the topics and ideas I started writing into those songs. So I would say the record is a 100% directed towards personal situations that were going on. I think it is still like a pop record and still a fun record, but I think it’s got real depth if someone wants to listen to it through that lens. So it’s pretty cool.
HM: What would you say you’re most excited about with the album?
TG: I think we’re excited to finally have it out. I think I’m really excited to perform the songs live because for me there’s real personal attachment to these songs directly related to the hard times I was going through when I wrote them. So for me to be able to sing those songs, it might be an interesting release. It’ll be interesting. I really do think it’s the perfect Neon Trees record up to this point for fans that really love the band because it has the things they really love times ten on the album. So I think it’s really going to be for people who really like the band.
HM: What is the song creating process for you as a band? Does everyone come up with different ideas and you put it together or are their one or two creative driving forces who writes, helps produce and etc?
TG: My band is incredibly talented musicians. As far as like playing instruments, I’m good when I’m trying to write, but I’m not necessarily a great player so I leave that up to them. I have a lot of ideas and an ear for putting parts together so when I’m making demos and writing a song, I definitely put that in there, but I keep the space in mind for them because we are a band, it’s not just me. I’ve always appreciated the way we worked together. They respect that I have something to bring to the table. A lot of the songs are me, but at the same time we’re a band and we’re putting these albums together.
HM: Sounds like a great democratic process, which I think it has to be for a band to have longevity.
TG: Yeah, but not every band gets that right?
TG: You hear over and over again like bands just falling apart because people have egos or whatever. It’s kind of weird.
HM: So you wrote a song “Sleeping with a Friend.” Good song, but what do you think of the topic? Did this stem from personal experience?
TG: For me like it’s completely about the danger and the risk involved that I toyed with and playing with that fire. Because when you cross that line, you do kind of screw with the relationship that you already had. For me it was kind of the sex song that I know how to write. It was more like writing about my sexual experience, but in a way that I know how.
HM: I think it’s in a way that a lot of people can relate to as well, because those types of bangers you’re talking about are pretty unrealistic.
TG: I don’t think we all have the like Rihanna fantasy experience like she does… I found that a lot of people, a lot more people than they’d like to admit, have kind of crossed that line. So I have messed with that. I’m glad that people like it.
HM: In an interview you stated, “There are some people that really come to our shows kind of clinging on to something, and I didn’t want to stand up in the front of the stage and say, ‘Be yourself and be happy with who you are’ if I wasn’t. I felt like it was lie.” How much of the entertainment business or being an entertainment figure is a lie? How often do you feel as if you have to put on this act or lie?
TG: I discover more and more how many first thoughts in life that I’ve made that’s changed. But instead of taking that information and brining me down, it really empowers me to want to be even more honest. Just like recently coming out, and saying you know, I’m gay. This is who I am. That was me saying I’m not afraid if someone wants to pigeon hole me or have someone like not want to come to the show anymore just because they don’t like who I am. To me, that is really the message that I try to send to fans. Be stoked on every flaw that everyone thinks you have because at the end of the day those are the flaws that make us interesting. So for me I think there is a lot of BS in the industry, but it’s not like it is news to anyone. I think everyone kind of knows the degree of smoke in mirrors that goes into this thing. For us a lot of people I guess will assume we’re a pop band, based on our clothes and songs, but we still are a band that worked forever in a van to get to where we are. At the end of the day we write our songs, we play our instruments and this is the music we decided to put out to the world. None of it is a lie. It’s all very much organic even if it is poppy and catchy and bright, it’s still us.
HM: I love Live from Daryl’s House… can you just speak a little bit on that experience, how did you choose what songs to play?
TG: It’s funny like Daryl wanted us to play three or four songs of ours that he liked. But at the time we only had one album, so he didn’t have a lot to choose from, he basically had like ten songs. But for us choosing Daryl Hall songs, there were like a million. But it’s funny because the first few songs that I chose, they were actually John Oates songs, so I had to like re-choose the ones that I wanted. But I love Hall and Oates obviously and I also love Daryl Hall. That experience, just like hanging out at his house and playing music with his friends, then eating food, it was one of the coolest days because we are such huge fans of his. I would love to do it again.
HM: It’s usually the other way around. When and how did you and Chris decide that it was the right decision to leave California and go to Utah?
TG: A lot of people scratch their heads. I kind of did too, I didn’t know for sure, like what’s in Utah? But I knew that I wanted to play music with Chris, so at that point there was no question. I definitely wanted to continue to make music with him. Me and him grew up in California; I mean we’re California natives, lived their till like our twenties. We kind of got fed up with the suburban life style of having to play in coffee shops, juice bars and gyms. I mean LA, San Diego, and San Francisco are like cities that have that music, but we grew up playing in the suburbs so there weren’t really places to play. But Provo, when we went to Utah, there actually are venues with stages, and lighting and sound with places you can really build a fan base. It was a great decision. And it was a college town so it made sense.
HM: Who were your favorite punk bands?
TG: The Dictators, New York Dolls, and The Clash. Being from Southern California, I mean Blink 182. They’re not necessarily a punk band, but they’re definitely one of my favorite bands.
HM: Who is on your Mount Rushmore of music?
TG: Michael Jackson…and Bruce Springsteen are the ones I always refer to. The fourth one, I probably want to pick a lady. I think Debbie Harry from Blondie is pretty rad and she is really influential.
HM: What’s your favorite tour memory thus far?
TG: Most recently it was probably getting to play in an arena for Maroon 5. I haven’t like always listened to their music, but I realized what a great live band they are. So getting to watch them was really cool. It was a really cool rad pop rock show. We got to play for twenty thousand people so that was insane…Kind of like the benchmark moment was doing the North American tour with Duran Duran because they’re such a legendary band in my eyes. So those are two favorites that I can think of.
HM: So I always do this, because it’s necessary. Is there any piece of advice you would like to give to up and coming artists, and it doesn’t have to be specific to music?
TG: I always go right to thinking to people in bands because that’s kind of what I know. But I would say even if you’re a solo artist, a painter, a writer or whatever, this is true. Don’t expect everything right away. I know we live in a culture where a lot of bands become successes really quick and like you can get famous off YouTube and I know that kind of has become the new motto. But for me, hard work and dedication and really just like loving what you’re doing pays off in the end. It might take longer than you’re expecting, but I really say like keep doing what you’re doing and that’s what has made us successful.
HM: Alright let me stop the interrogation and open it up to you. Any shout outs, things you are looking forward to, psa’s you want to make?
TG: Detroit has been one of our favorite cities to play. Our bassist, Brandon, actually lived in Detroit for a couple years. We’re stoked to come back and play.
Neon Trees will be touring this summer and Detroit has the pleasure of being one of the selected cities. They will be stopping in Detroit on June 29th. With this album amounting to be a huge success, and their already proven track record, this will be a show not to miss.
For more information please visit Neon Trees’s official facebook page: www.facebook.com/neon.trees