Provo Utah’s alterna-rockers Neon Trees hit number one on the Aaternative chart with "Animal" from 2010’s Habits, following opening several dates for The Killers. We recently talked to front-man Tyler Green about all things 80’s, music, religion and Glee.
Hi, Tyler. So you started the whole group of Neon Trees?
Yes, about five years ago.
So you have been together five years. Are you all from Utah?
I am from San Diego. We are from all over the place. Brandon is from Las Vegas, Elaine is from Chicago, Chris is from there as well, so we all met in Utah randomly.
The group is named after In-N-Out Burger’s neon sign?
Me and my friends in high school used to hang out at In-N-Out. There was one particular one where I grew up. This one had a neon palm tree light. We were just joking around and thinking Neon Palm Trees would be a cool band name. Later on when we needed name for this band this just fit the aesthetic and look for it.
How do you feel about the song “Animal” being on Glee?
I think it is cool. Glee brings back a focus to the arts in a clever way. I was a choir kid in school. I was outside the popular group. I am glad that it’s there for younger kids. I think it is hilarious. I don’t get to watch it as much as I want to but I am glad they covered our song.
“Animal” is not an easy song to sing. It has a big range.
It definitely does, yeah.
You did one of the remixes yourself on the EP single?
Yes, that was one of my very first times doing a remix. I went for more of the New Order approach to the song.
Are you into eighties music?
Yes, that was the music that really helped me find my voice and my look. It is the kind of music that I like. I think the music I grew up with was classic rock or punk. I liked music that had an edge and melody. I loved pop art bands with that quality to them in the era of 80’s and 90’s.
Like Depeche Mode….
Depeche Mode, The Smiths, INXS, Spandau Ballet.
Some of those guys are still touring.
I think for groups like Duran Duran there is a sense of nostalgia to them. People that grew up in the eighties don’t want to forget about them. I don’t know if that is a direct reason why we have found success is because a lot of people of that age have found that quality in our live performances.
Duran Duran just played Chicago recently.
Oh, cool. We saw them play at Coachella when we played there this past summer.
You just played in Chicago with My Chemical Romance, correct?
Yes, it was our second time at the Aragon. It was amazing. I loved opening for that band first of all. The people and music was really cool.
Chicago crowds are good. Now you get to headline your own tour. The band has performed covers of Fleetwood Mac and Hall & Oates as well.
We were invited to Darryl Hall’s house to film his web series. They choose some songs of ours that they wanted to cover and then chose some of their old songs, songs that we like to hear. It was an excuse to sing and be musical.
Are there covers that you want to do but haven’t done yet?
I would love to do “Search and Destroy.” I think “Shake to the Beat” by Depeche Mode would be a crazy cover. I am really into the new Adele song. It has such passion. I love soul music like Little Richard and Tina Turner. So things like that would be great to cover. There are plenty of new songs that I would live to sing but I am glad that our music is being embraced.
Neon Trees seems to attract a wide range of fans both young and old.
We get all ages at our shows and all kinds of backgrounds. It’s weird because I wonder if they know who they are watching. I am this dorky, awkward and overly artistic guy dancing onstage. But they seem to love it and sing along. It makes me feel good because I sound like I am at home on this stage in front of these people. It has made my life better.
Were you or the other guys raised very strict religiously?
We all were. I don’t know if strict is the word but we were all brought up in the Latter-day Saints church. My parents always encouraged me to question and figure things out for myself. I think because the family I was raised in I was brought up happy. I know I was really glad that I was brought up in this religious environment because a lot of my friends felt a little aimless. At the same token I can see how it can be oppressive for people to feel brought down and not able to be themselves. For me I loved my childhood and my upbringing for sure.