Neon Trees turns throwback beats to energetic pop rock

“Animal” is a two-year old radio fave that still has the power to charm the socks off anyone. It’s a catchy power-pop number with zippy hooks that continue to hum in your head long after its three-minute play has ended.

The song is from Neon Trees, an alt band from Utah composed of vocalist/keyboardist Tyler Glenn, guitarist Chris Allen, bassist Branden Campbell, and drummer/vocalist Elaine Bradley.

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Even if their songs are indebted to 80s new wave, the band was named one of the most promising acts of 2010.

Exclusive interview

And they’ve lived up to the huzzahs. “Picture Show,” their second studio album, was released in 2012. They continue to pick up the pop and rock influences from the past and then fashion them into infectious rockers that sound right at home in the company of heavy hitters like The Strokes, Bloc Party and former tour mates, The Killers.

In an exclusive phone interview with Yahoo! Philippines, the band explained the contiuning success of their throwback sound.

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“We started as an electronic band before we even recorded albums. When we made our first album ‘Habits,’ we were in the midst of trying to write really energetic pop rock songs,” said vocalist Tyler Glenn.

‘Throwaway’ tune becomes a hit

“Now, the songs on the new album ‘Picture Show’ are a mix of the old and the new. This time, we did not want to shirk from the opportunity of playing around with electronics and still remain comfortable as a pop band. At the end of the day, good songs are still our most important concern.”

In fact, Glenn claims that he doesn’t know how to make hits. He just wanted to create songs that had grooves and melodies that people could sing along to.

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He explained, “’Animal’ gave us our career, but ‘Everybody Talks’ was the surprise. It’s gotten bigger than ‘Animal’ and I initially thought of it as the throwaway on the album. So I am happy I was wrong. It’s a blast!”

Tighter bonds

Glenn added, “In fairness, we have had a big song on each record. That gets me excited to write more songs. It helps us figure out what we do well. We are always pushing to to be the best version of what Neon Trees can be.”

Drummer and vocalist Elaine Bradley believes their experience on the road, creating a fanbase from the ground up, supporting huge bands like Flaming Lips, and coming out with records helped the band become, in her words, “more comfortable.”

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“Our bonds, personally and musically, are tighter now more than ever,” she added.

Loves and hates social sites

As for interacting with fans on social sites, Bradley both loves and hates the immediacy.

“I love that I can talk to people after a show and see what they thought of it, but I hate being privy to so many people's opinions. You're not supposed to hear what every single person thinks of all the time. It's not realistic.”

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Her solution?

“So I stay off a lot of it. I just make sure I'm not taking too much time on social media... just enough to get by.”

Neon Trees will play at the Wanderland outdoor music and arts festival on May 18, 2013 at the new Globe Circuit Events Grounds in Makati. They will join international headlining acts The Temper Trap and NadaSurf, along with New Zealand-based folk group Avalanche City, Australian pop duo Colour Coding, and female-fronted indie quintet from Melbourne, Tully on Tully. Homegrown talents Up Dharma Down, Taken By Cars, Pulso, Yolanda Moon, and She’s Only Sixteen round up the cast. For more information, visit their Facebook page Wanderland 2013. 

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