Hailing from Provo, Utah, alternative rock group Neon Trees’ upbeat, pop-savvy vibe, is complimented by a strong, new-wave rock backbone. It works — their debut album, Habits, peaked at No. 15 on the U.S. Billboard Alternative Albums chart, and today the group releases their follow-up album, Picture Show.
Vocalist and keyboardist Tyler Glenn spoke with The Daily Texan about the band name’s origin, being influenced by punk and the Talking Heads and what neon sign he’d like to be.
The Daily Texan: The band’s name derives from the In-N-Out Burger neon sign. Have you contacted them for any endorsements, or free food yet?
Tyler Glenn: [laughter] What’s funny is that I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t even eat hamburgers anymore. I still go to In-N-Out for their fries, and I’ll order off the menu items sometimes, but I wouldn’t want to push a fast-food band agenda, you know? I think it’s fun and nostalgic that the band kind of derives from our youth and hanging out, but I don’t think the name goes much further than that.
DT: I also think the name represents the band’s sound very accurately, considering how upbeat and vibrant your music is.
Glenn: Yeah. Originally when the name came up, I imagined it would be for an energetic band. Sometimes I think it’s a silly name, but then I’ll see it on a billboard, and realize that it represents the type of music we create.
DT: How was it recording your debut album, Habits, with producers Ian Kirkpatrick and Tim Pagnotta, and what would you say is the main theme present throughout the album?
Glenn: With Habits we wanted the album to have a very upbeat feel to it. With Tim [Pagnotta] being a musician and a singer in a band already, he just pushed and helped us to write some great songs.
DT: What would you say is different from your upcoming album, Picture Show, in comparison to Habits?
Glenn: The sound of the album [Picture Show] is definitely fresh. We didn’t flip the script completely — it’s still a pop album, but a rock record at the same time.
DT: One song that I enjoyed in particular from your first album, is “Love and Affection.” It reminds me of the Talking Heads because of the new-wave, funk feel it has. Have groups like that influenced your sound?
Glenn: That’s actually one of my favorite songs [off of Habits]. The Talking Heads are a massive influence on us. David Byrne is superb. We’re also heavily influenced by the energy and attitude of punk music.
DT: You guys were a part of the VEVO showcase during this year’s South By Southwest. How did that come about?
Glenn: I remember that when VEVO first started, we [Neon Trees] had just started. When we put Habits out, VEVO did a lot of things to help us promote the album. I feel that they’ve always been in our band life since the beginning. I’m excited to do a show with VEVO because they’re always trying to help out an artist.
DT: If you could be any neon sign in the world, which one would you be?
Glenn: [laughter] I would be the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign because, it’s so prominent, and I think when people think of neon, that sign comes to mind. Honestly, the McDonald’s sign in Times Square popped up into my mind first, but I would totally choose Las Vegas over that.
Printed on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 as: Neon Trees' vocalist talks new album