Dig Baton Rouge

Riding the New Wave

By Matt Starlight

 

The Neon Trees have been around the block a few times. New wave pop mega-hits like “Animal” and “1983” were inescapable online and over the airwaves in 2010 with the release of Habits, and more recently, hits like “Everybody Talks” and “Sleeping With a Friend” have blown up the radio. With the gang gearing up for their “An Intimate Night Out with Neon Trees” tour, expectations are high.

The group got their start in 2005 in Southern California with guitarist Chris Allen and bassist Branden Campbell. Allen later moved to Utah, where he hooked up with eventual front man Tyler Glenn. They later reconnected with Campbell and drummer Elaine Bradley, and Neon Trees was formed. The group eventually caught the eye of The Killers, who asked them to open a handful of shows for them on the North American leg of their 2008 tour.

“It really got the attention of some media and our label that we eventually signed with,” said lead guitarist Chris Allen. They signed with Mercury Records later that year, a diverse record label that’s represented acts like Captain Beefheart, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Katy Perry. In 2010, Habits was released and the Neon Trees promptly began to take over the world.

“I’d say our first big tour that we went on was with 30 Seconds to Mars right after Habits came out,” said Allen. “It was amazing. All the fantasies coming together, you know. All the things you dream of from years of playing your instrument. It was very surreal, very fun.”

Although they had already achieved a level of success prior, rock ‘n roll stardom was overwhelming.

“That was really overwhelming. We were thinking, ‘Wow, they were such a big band. Why would they want to take us out?’” said Allen. “Just talking to them was so intimidating and playing these 3000 cap rooms.”

Picture Show was released in 2012, which contained arguably their biggest hit yet, “Everybody Talks.” Their latest album, Pop Psychology, was released last year, and they released yet another new song, “Songs I Can’t Listen To,” just a few days ago.

Their latest record is representative of their signature style, and reception has been positive, but the name Pop Psychology may be misleading for those who haven’t listened yet. According to Allen, this is one of their most mature and diverse records to date.

“I think a lot of people, because of the name Pop Psychology, they immediately thought ‘Oh, this album is just so pop,’” said Allen. “But, I think we’ve always kind of ridden a line between alternative and pop, and this album does the same thing. It definitely has maybe more pop recording elements, but the songs, the songwriting, it’s kind of still our same brand of alternative pop. Maybe a little more mature as far as our abilities and the songwriting, maybe it’s a little better than previous albums.”

The record has been out for over a year now, and, according to Allen, the group couldn’t bear to stay at home any longer, so a new tour was set in motion.

“We had taken some time off, and we were planning on taking some more time off, but we were getting a little stir crazy, so we went into the studio to record a few songs, and we felt like one of them we would like to try out on the radio,” said Allen. “So, we just put that out and the video came out today, called ‘Songs We Can’t Listen To.’ I think we were just going crazy sitting at home. We booked the tour, released the song, and we’ll see how it goes.”

With the tour getting ready to roll, fans are wondering what kind of experience they’ll be in for.

“We’re going to be playing a little bit smaller venues and we’ll be digging up some older songs as well as playing some of the new ones,” said Allen. “It’s not really going to be a Pop Psychology tour, but just kind of a broad spectrum.

“We’re not going to be doing acoustic stuff and lighting candles, but mainly because we’re doing the small venues, and we’re hoping we got a lot of the devoted fans out there. Just giving them something because they deserve us to come back through their cities. It’s been too long, maybe nine or 10 months or so since our last big tour.”

Even the though the group has been down this road many times before, getting ready for a big tour is always nerve-racking.

“This is the first time I’ve been really anxious about a tour and I think it’s just because we’ve been focusing a lot on the newer stuff,” said Allen. “The last tour we did was so long ago. It’s like digging up some of the older songs and having to relearn some of the stuff. It’s funny, you know, you’d think, ‘Oh yeah, that’s their song, they know how to play it.’ You know, when you don’t play it for three years, you tend to forget. So it’s been a little bit stressful, but now that we’ve ran our rehearsals and pre-production, we’re ready to go on tour and it feels like a big weight has been lifted and now it’s just excitement.”

With pre-tour jitters subsiding and a discography full of hits to play, Neon Trees seem poised for a successful round of shows. They’ll be stopping by Baton Rouge to play at Blue Bayou on Saturday, June 20 as they continue to spread their unique brand of alternative pop across the nation.

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