In late March, Tyler Glenn – singer for Provo, Utah, pop-rock group Neon Trees – came out as gay in an article in Rolling Stone. A month later, his band’s third album, “Pop Psychology,” gave the foursome its highest-charting debut at No. 6 on the Billboard 200.
Neon Trees returns to The Fillmore Thursday.
Glenn spoke to the Observer earlier this month about fan response to his news, dating in the age of Tinder, and writing a lyrically deep yet still ridiculously catchy pop album.
Q. You’re having a big year. How have things been since coming out?
A. Coming out was therapeutic. I got a lot of messages. I was raised to be humble and introspective, and I was surprised and grateful for everyone’s kindness. You don’t know how people are going to react. To be able to share my whole being with people who love our music has been inspiring. There are a lot of fans that are girls on Twitter that have developed crushes, and I didn’t want to be that heartbreaker. They’ve been rad and supportive in that. I love that we live in a time where it’s not as taboo.
Q. Did you have it in your head that you were going to come out when you were writing the album?
A. The songs dictated me coming out. I didn’t know if I’d ever need to come out, and a lot of it had to do with going to therapy and finding my identity. I’m gay, but I loved my family and my (Mormon) upbringing and wanted to be true to that, too. It was figuring out it’s OK to be who you are. That’s something I believed in and said, but I didn’t always implement that in my own life. That came out in the songs. When I told my producer what the songs were about, his reaction was so kind and loving. It was something I needed to share with my friends. The music was always my best friend in a way, and it gave me a comfort zone to be who I am.
Q. One thing Entertainment Weekly noted was that these are very sugary pop songs, but if you read into them, there’s some heavier content there. Is that something you try to balance?
A. It started as a record that could’ve been darker – some of the subject matter where I’m talking about finding my identity and the struggle to find real love in the age of technology. My strong suit has been taking biting, darker-leaning lyrics and pairing it with music you can dance to and have fun with. Because Neon Trees has been that on previous records, it almost became a celebration, celebrating the flaws and the darker times and saying it’s OK. I appreciate the confidence that the record has. I don’t think you set out to make any sort of identity for the album, but it takes on its own when you put all the songs together.
Q. You mention more than once trying to find romance in the age of technology.
A. It’s bizarre. Everyone is talking about how everyone is finding love in the club and how easy it is, how everything is sort of great. That’s so not my reality. A lot of my friends – gay or straight – we’re all in our 30s and we’re not necessarily young anymore. We want to settle down and find fun, passionate relationships that aren’t just sex. These apps that come along that are supposed to make our lives easier, they’re complicating things. (Dating) is becoming this window-shopping activity. I don’t know where all these club bangers are getting their ideas. I don’t think it’s as light and carefree as they’re making it up to be. I tell my bandmates all the time, they’re lucky to have found someone to share their lives with and be married and have kids. It’s popular to be single and be free. There’s something about stability.
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