Having come out as gay at 30, Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn has had endless interviews about his ties with Mormonism and his struggle with self-acceptance. So we at PressPLAY kept it light, sending David Yates to discuss third album Pop Psychology, today’s pop industry and lunching with the artist formerly known as Ke-dollar-sign-ha. Obviously.
Tyler Glenn, HELLO. How are you!?
I’m great thank you. It’s only 10:30am so it’s not too bad.
How are you such a morning person, Tyler? What gets you through the day?
Lately, I think it’s the idea that I get to play a show at the end of the day, every day. And that’s what really gets me excited; it’s my ultimate form of expression. [On stage] I’m definitely very open and that gives me something to look forward to… and being able to call my therapist, too. (laughs)
Now, Pop Psychology, seems like a personal record (take note, Britney Jean). Our favourite track First Things First ends the album with, “You’re never gonna get everything that you want from this world, first things first, get what you deserve”. What does it all mean, Tyler?
For me, when we thought about writing the record, I was in a place where I wasn’t happy so I thought it would be a bit darker and then when we recorded it, I was in a better place. I wanted Pop Psychology to sound like a celebration to reflect my desire to be colourful again, reflect that sort of happiness.
As a band, we’ve had great successes in certain areas of the world, some stronger than others and we finally realise we are not the ‘biggest’ band but we’re becoming more and more comfortable with what band we are. That, for us, reflects personally on First Things First – its an anthemic way to send off the album and people need to hear that in this age where we can always get what we want; we need to sometimes be reminded that we can’t always get that and instead get the things we are passionate about and work for.
There’s been a fair few acts slagging off the music industry recently. Is there a side of it you prefer?
Music is exciting right now because there are so many different ways to be heard, I don’t think artists should go straight for the negatives. Although I think the music industry is rather sad and pathetic right now, the current state of pop radio is still really interesting.
Here in the US it’s really diverse; hearing Bastille and Katy Perry to really interesting artists like Lana Del Rey and Lorde who’re really cool and I’m loving their production, and being inspired by bands like us who play instruments and are essentially a rock band but love that kind of production as well. It’s a really cool era of music, I don’t know where its headed but I think its more refreshing than what it was a few years ago.
You’re playing V Festival in the UK – unlucky – so give us some festival memories.
The last UK festivals we did were Wireless, T In The Park and Oxygen in Ireland and I’m just blown away with how well they’re done. I’m really excited to be a part of this one, especially with so many different artists. Last time we played, I had a mohawk and we all looked pretty intense, since we’ve changed our look a lot for this record, hopefully they won’t be so put off.
The most interesting thing that happened was perhaps meeting Kesha backstage and realising she’s a really, really nice girl – I expected her to be quite offensive but we had lunch it was really normal and she was cool.
As an artist, how do you respond to the fans’ support of this album?
I guess I try to have a balance with the fans. They don’t come in to play when I’m writing new songs, I just put the music out. When I see them line up early at shows and they know the music, it’s that part of the fandom that I’m blown away by because I was that kind of fan. Going to shows as a teenager, it’s nice to know that they’re feeling what I felt but for my music and my band, that really is intense. Its something you cant make up and I love that. I love that we have fans that are moved and interested by what we do and that’s what’s really cool.
We don’t want to encourage the trolls now, but what’s your favourite thing you’ve heard about yourself?
It used to be that I was gay and now, I am gay, so that kinda came through (laughs). That used to be the big one. People want me to be dating certain guys now, I think the latest one is Adam Lambert, they’ve developed a hashtag and some incarnation of our names.
Was it #Glenbert?
Yes! (laughs) They’re really creative! Someone Photoshopped a picture of him hugging a man and added my head onto it – it looks pretty good, actually. I might tweet it and see what happens.
You’ve worked with and supported some incredible acts (Duran Duran, Flaming Lips) but who are your dream collaborators?
Perhaps Gerard from My Chemical Romance, I know he has a new record coming out. I think Lady Gaga is very interesting and that would be fun to do.
What’s your jam at the moment?
I love the new Future Islands record a lot, I think it’s my favourite record of the year.
We’re in the mood to party, Tyler. Describe a night out with Neon Trees.
We don’t really drink so it would be a taste test of all the sodas and snacks in the convenience store. We would rent a cinema, watch Pretty In Pink and all sing If You Leave by Orchestral Maneouvers in The Dark at the end of the night because that’s how I party.
Pop Psychology is released in the UK on 11 August.