Exclusive Interview with Neon Trees

Neon Trees have returned to the music scene with their 3rd full-length, Pop Psychology. The record was released on April 22nd and on that same day, the band celebrated the release with a performance at iHeartRadio’s venue in New York City. The hour-long concert was broadcasted both on radio and on the radio station’s website; however, 200 lucky fans were able to witness the performance up close and personal at the venue.
Pop Psychology is without a doubt Neon Trees’ most personal album to date, as it marks vocalist Tyler Glenn’s coming out as a gay man as well as Glenn finding comfort in his own skin. Band members Elaine, Chris, and Branden show their support to their friend and band mate emotionally and it is made apparent on the record as well. Pop Psychology is without a doubt a collection of well thought-out, eye-opening anthems for the millennial generation. The band accurately portrays this generation’s addiction to social media and how it shapes our relationships with the rest of humanity. Not to mention the value of being true to one’s self and getting what one deserves.
Cliché Magazine’s own Heather Glock spoke with the vivacious quartet before their live performance about the lyrical content behind Pop Psychology, the upcoming tour, and what it means to have the love and support of their friends and family.
Cliché: Pop Psychology drops today. What made you want to perform tonight at iHeartRadio’s venue in NYC instead of your home town for the release of this record?
Tyler: We are doing a lot of TV this week, and actually our last record we had released in New York. We did two nights at the Bowery Ballroom with intimate shows like this one. We have done this before in this space [being iHeartradio]. We thought it was cool and iHeartRadio wanted to stream our show so everyone around the world on the Internet can watch it if we have fans that can’t come to New York, so that was very appealing to us.
Elaine: Plus, it is a sneak preview because we are about to hit the road for a very long time, so it is a preview to our live show. I mean, we don’t have all the bells and whistles, but you can see the new songs performed live and it is also a fun way to celebrate release day!
Branden: Plus you know, it’s New York City! I mean, c’mon!
You all stated in a behind the scenes of Pop Psychology that the tour for this album will contain some changes, such as the back tracking and added guitars in some songs, as well as other tweaks. Why make such drastic changes for this tour?
Tyler: I think it is fun to refresh everything anyways. We hired a new keyboard player and so we have six of us on stage, so there is already a new energy on stage, and he sings as well. Also, I think that reinterpreting the old songs are so fun. I think that it is cool that we have played a lot of those songs for four years . It is nice to breathe new life.
Chris: It was finally time for a pro level set and we could afford it, so we are doing it!
Branden: It’s the best that we have done and the biggest that we have done. I know that sounds like we are prize fighters or something but…
Tyler: We are afraid of hype because people may be like, [in a nasally, disappointed voice] “Ohhh…”
Tyler, you co-produced the new record. What challenges did you face while taking on this role and did co-producing these songs provide you with a greater connection to them?
Tyler: It was just fun to be in a studio for a long time with Tim and taking everything that they have played and adding this new character to everything, which I think really helped the songs come to life. As we’ve said, we think that these songs are essentially rock songs, but with the time we took in the studio and really digging and building the songs in a way, they turned into nice pop songs. At the root, they are songs you can play with a guitar, but the finished versions have a nice sheen and it was fun to reflect some of that creativity that I had heard on records I like and bring that in. It’s fun to tell Tim, ‘this is what is currently going on. Let’s not totally mimic that, but let’s accept some of those sounds into the band as well.’
This record is different in the sense that it is very personal for you, Tyler, as you are allowing yourself to be a person as a whole. You also mentioned that during the release of your second album, you were struggling both mentally and physically with who are you on and off the stage. Do you feel your recent coming out has influenced both this album and your demeanor on stage?
Tyler: Yeah! I mean, what is really great about it is that anyone deserves a full whole peace of mind and not a fraction of that. For me, coming out was part of just being a happy person, and I felt like I didn’t owe coming out to my fans or friends and family, but I did owe being the best version of myself, so for me, that was really important. It’s really exciting to start playing some shows and to get ready to go on tour and to finally be able to perform as myself completely. Before, it felt like I was turning a switch on and I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s ok to be a little crazy.
Branden, you had open heart surgery; Elaine, you performed up until your 8th month of pregnancy; and Tyler, you knocked out your top teeth at one point. Instead of taking breaks from these physical ailments, you kept going. What kept you motivated and what still inspires you to continue on?
Branden: We love performing and we love sharing our music with people more than we are scared or hate those other things. Some of those other things are hard or challenging, but we are still living our lives. There are people who say you have to give up or sacrifice everything, and when I say everything, I mean family, marriages, relationships, you know–real life stuff. I don’t think that is the case. I think those things can coexist, but it is hard.
Elaine: With only willing parties for sure.
Branden: Yeah of course. The point is that we want to share the music more and so I think that is what keeps us going.
Tyler: I’m single.
Elaine: The three of us that are married have spouses who not only support it, but actively support it. I have a husband who stays at home with our kid and that is what he wants to do. He wants to be doing it, and Chris’s wife is our merch person, and Branden’s wife is the mother of rock and roll it feels like. She just knows everything and has supported us since she was a teen.
Tyler: And again… I’m single.
Branden: It goes beyond even married life, but there is a lot of family events and extended family events that Tyler has to miss.
The first two songs of the record discuss this generation’s inability to pull themselves away from their phones and social media outlets. Do you feel that this dependency on technology is having a negative effect on the way that we as humans connect emotionally?
Branden: Hold on. Sorry. I have to check my phone…
Tyler: For me, I tell these boys and gal that they are really lucky to have found love. Addressing that issue on the songs is really just how it is hard to have to rely on apps to find people and it is so “hook-up based” these days and it’s daunting and scary, especially for me being a gay man coming out and trying to find a boyfriend or someone to hang out with. That’s a daunting task. For me, I have always found myself in really hectic fights over texts or Facebook messages and it is so stupid and silly because tone is lost in text really. Those songs set the precedence for the rest of the record about finding identity and finding love in the modern age and how you balance all that. But really, they are lucky!
Neon Trees start their tour May 4th. You can look at their tour schedule and purchase tickets here:
Exclusive Interview with Neon Trees: Photographed by Heather Glock

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