When the Neon Lights Go Down…

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From left: Chris Allen, Tyler Glenn, Elaine Bradley, Branden Campbell

They got everyone going “Oh oh I want some more” and judging by their sold-out concert in Singapore last Tuesday, everyone can’t get enough of Neon Trees, the alternative rock band from Utah.

The quartet that once opened for bands like The Killers, My Chemical Romance and Angels & Airwaves, charmed the reporters present at Somerset Liang Court with their amiable personalities.

Made up of lead vocalist Tyler Glenn, guitarist Chris Allen, bass player Branden Campbell and drummer Elaine Bradley, the band produces a sound that reminds one of love lost and adolescent angst done in a refreshing yet slick synthetic pop-rock fashion, with lyrics that were sincere and heartfelt.

Unlike most rock and roll bands, they have chosen a good and clean lifestyle being Mormons. With sex, drugs and alcohol free lifestyle, it’s no wonder that the theatrical bunch puts their best in music and translate their music into a form of art, some even giving up the basic comfort and happiness to achieve that.

With lead vocalist Tyler decked out in 80s punk fashion and unmistakable mohawk, the young indie rock band obviously had their differences when it comes to style, while their musical influences put together creates what we know today as Neon Trees. Speaking of which, the name is inspired from neon lights hung on trees outside the band’s favourite hangout place – In N’ Out. Cute.

Serendipity in Singapore

Seemingly to have taken a strong liking to our sunny island, the band from Provo, Utah are thankful for their enthusiastic fans in Asia, with drummer Elaine declaring that the band “feels more at home here”.

The other night, the band enjoyed a taste of our local palate with grilled stingray and spicy delights.

Tyler also tells us about what would be one of the craziest, or serendipitous things, that has happened to the band in the past 6 months, and we’re proud to say that it happened in the lion city.

“We were walking to McDonalds just around the corner to get breakfast, Branden and I walked in and our song ‘Animal’ was playing, and then all of a sudden all of the people working there recognised us and started wanting pictures. It seemed like it was staged like in a movie but it wasn’t, so it felt really surreal”, the quirky singer quipped. “I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s cool to get recognized somewhere but also to have your song play at the same time? That’s just really crazy.” 

Around The World

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Being the band that started out by opening for other bands such as The Killers, they have clearly worked with many other bands on tours before they began their own.

“My personal favourite is My Chemical Romance, they are the real deal. They are a rock band that’s very theatrical and artistic but they are very pop and mainstream at the same time, and they’ve done it with integrity and their fan base is wonderful”, Tyler proclaimed, which brought approving nods from the other 3 members.

No longer having to hand flyers on their own and anticipate more than 10 people turning up, the band has since gained momentum in the music industry. Conquering most sites on the map and playing live on their own after the release of their first full-length album Habits, we find out where or what’s on top of their list.

Tyler tell us, “I’m really excited to go to Japan, since I was an exchange student in Japan in junior high school so I’ve always wanted to go back. Now that we’re in a band and I get to go back to play music for the fans there, that makes me feel really excited.”

As much as wanting to play everywhere in the world, each member had different countries namely China, Italy and Mexico city where they hope to play, one day.

With hopes that they will eventually headline some of the most famous festivals in the world, Elaine expresses, “I want to do Rock On The Range in Germany. That’s one I’d really, really, really want to do.”

We’ve played a lot of great festivals, which is crazy, we grew up in Southern California going to Coachella, and we got to play it so it was a really cool moment for us. We’ve played many UK and European [festivals], except a few. It would be great to play the Glastonbury [Festival]. We’ve really grown to be fans of festivals because it’s such a big audience and you get such a wide variety of fans there”, Tyler added.

Like Family

Being the only girl in the band, Elaine definitely has some things differences compared to the guys, but surprisingly, no complains.

If there are things that they are supposed to be conscious about I don’t think they have been. I’m not a typical girl so a lot of things don’t bother me, but they’re not typical guys, they’re not jerks”, she expressed.

Tyler was also quick to add on, “I think we’ve gotten to a point where we are like family so when we do get into fights or make fun of each other it’s really brief and we all know that there’s love behind it that we care for each other.”

A unique quartet who are all Mormons and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, yet being a rock band at the same time has put them in the spotlight as a band that isn’t oversexed, doesn’t drink or do drugs.

As much as we are Mormons, at the same time I think that it’s a personal thing. We’re all at different places in our religion and we recognize that in this band we are not here to be a Mormon band or push that religion to anyone. Still, a lot of our lyrics come from our spirituality so I can’t help it; I’m an honest writer”, Tyler commented.

Bass player Branden also explains, “ If I go and see U2 play, I don’t care if Bono’s Catholic. It doesn’t matter, what I care about is the songs and the music, and sure, the background is going to create the character in the person, but with the variety of people in the world then of course we want different people and we’re glad that we can add another piece into the spectrum.”

Prom Affair

With their latest music video for third single ‘Your Surrender’ being released in collaboration with Disney movie, Prom, the band also tells us how their own personal prom went.

“A lot of my friends in high school didn’t like prom because we were kind of the rebellious, freaky drama kids, but I loved it and my friends would always make fun of me, but I like an excuse to dress up and look cool. My girlfriend and I were really inspired by Japanese street style and we would be very overblown and at prom, everyone would want to take our picture and we just feel like celebrities”, Tyler tells us unabashedly.

Always picking music over everything, Elaine says, “I had a great time; I’ve only been to 1! I didn’t go to my senior prom, I planned on going, but my band at that time had a show so I didn’t go to my prom. The band always came first!”

Chris lets us on an inside story that he often shared with the band on this first prom: “I remember that I went with the girl that I had a crush on for years. I always wanted a date with her and so I wanted to take her to a really nice place to eat, so I tried to book it at this place but they were all booked up. So my mum recommended this other place and she was like, ‘It’s really nice, they have cloth napkins.’ And I was like, since my mum said it was nice… and it was the Olive Garden.”

It’s a horribly stupid chain of Italian restaurants. It’s not great.” Chris exclaimed to laughter. Sometimes, Mommy doesn’t know best.


Between The Trees

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With a quirky synthpop and alternative rock sound that stands out from the rest, the band filled in on one of the questions that most of us pondered about – their musical influences.

For Tyler, he has admired Michael Jackson since he was young because of the King of Pop’s sensibility and talent. “I love punk music from the late 70s and 80s”, he exclaimed.

Drummer Elaine had a slightly more unique combination of influences. “When I was a little kid my most inspiring things were Led Zeppelin and Depeche Mode, simultaneously I loved them both, from 2 different spectrums.”

While most might anticipate a bass player to draw his inspirations from other bass players, Branden explains to us that he picks up on the emotions of Jimi Hendrix as well as the classic rockstars along the lines of The Rolling Stones and The Who instead.

A shy Chris speaks up, surprising most of us with his answer. “R.E.M. and Cyndi Lauper.”

The band also talks about where and what they would be doing if not for the music industry.

Without hesitation, Tyler let us in that he would be a chef. “I, from a couple of years ago, have found a love for cooking and I became really happy in the kitchen, but I think I’d still be very unhappy if I weren’t in music.”

Elaine, on the other hand, was a star from birth. “I think I might be trying to act. From the time I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a star, but I always wanted to do music. I had to give up certain things because of music, even comfort and happiness.”

Previously a massage therapist, the kooky Chris jokes about still being on a cruise ship doing massages if he wasn’t in the band.

 Fame by Glee

Due to the recent coverage of ‘Animal’ in Glee, Tyler proudly commented that they did not sell out themselves and not mind one bit being heard on mainstream radio and TV show. I think alternative music can still be mainstream and I think we’ve always set out to be the kind of band that we want to be, a band that makes people want to sing and has anthem-ic songs. If anything, we feel that we’ve become more honest and more comfortable,” explains Tyler.

“There’s too many people trying to keep a score of what this [genre] music is, what [genre] that music is, and I think that music is for everybody and the boundaries, the lines are very blurry now as to who’s allowed to listen to what kind of music, as long as everyone enjoys it”, says Branden.

Leaving us to prepare for the show later that night, Tyler hinted us on what to expect.

“Listening to our record we’re very catchy, but we’re very much a rock band. I think there’s an element of surprise and unpredictable-ness because it’s not always the same [show]. There’s a theatricality and entertainment value that we put in, even if we don’t have tons of fog, we try to give people a show because that’s the kind of bands that we like to see. “

Photo courtesy of Tay Wan Lin, Klix Photography, m:idea

About Francesca Tay

A barely 5'1 quirky girl that thinks that her name is too complicated for her own good, Francesca enjoys fashion, old movies, good music, any form of Shakespeare and a good cup of coffee anytime. Too often you can find her fantasizing about seeing her favourite bands live in concert, especially Mew. Some might call her a dreamer because she wants to try many different things in life, but hey, who doesn't? Previously an editor in The Urbanwire, she has since stepped down but is still declaring her loyalty as a contributing writer.
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