When it came to their second album, pop rock band Neon Trees uprooted from Provo, Utah to Hollywood, letting the bright lights of the city>"/>
When it came to their second album, pop rock band Neon Trees uprooted from Provo, Utah to Hollywood, letting the bright lights of the city and their affinity for cinema influence what eventually became Picture Show.
Lead singer Tyler Glenn talked with us about the zombie-filled video for "Lessons In Love," Picture Show and the band's soft spot for B-list horror flicks before Neon Trees plays KeyArena tonight.
SW: Where did the idea come from to make "Lessons In Love" a continuation of the "Everybody Talks" video?
I think the album being called Picture Show, we decided to get really cinematic with the visuals, down to the leaflet in the CD and with the videos. We just decided that the "Everybody Talks" video seemed to connect so well. We thought "Let's have more fun with it and continue the story," and I'm glad we did. The band and Trixie, with the heart glasses, get their revenge on me in the end so it's a fun video.
Are there any plans to continue the storyline through another video?
I think "zombies" is really being done now, and that's definitely made it the last video with zombies. I think we're going to do another music video but I don't think it will have anything to do with the first two.
There seems to be a creepy, yet humorous, vibe to the videos for "Lessons In Love" and "Everybody Talks." Where does that aesthetic come from?
My whole humor and outlook on life is sort of dark but funny so I enjoy films like that, and I enjoy that kind of humor and I think the whole band in general loves that aesthetic. We love horror movies that are really intense but sort of darkly funny so I think we took that B-movie schlock vibe and made it [work] for us and our video.
There are a lot of recurring characters from "Everybody Talks" in "Lessons In Love." Were those people actors? Friends of yours?
They were actors. Chris's fiancé is actually in both the videos. She plays a waitress [in "Everybody Talks"] and she also plays a student. Trixie, the heart glasses girl, was [played by] a model that we found and she just fit the character so much. She's in all of the photos for the album and she's since become a friend of ours. She's just great and almost born from my dreams, if I can say that without sounding so intense, but it was really interesting to see her in the flesh and be exactly what I envisioned.
I watched an interview in which you said that when it came to Picture Show, you all felt more fearless to do what you wanted to do. With that being said, can you explain how the process of writing and recording Picture Show differed from that of Habits?
It was completely different. For Habits, we had a long time to make it because we didn't really know what it was going to be. For Picture Show, we knew that we would have a small window to make it so I guess I never stopped writing [after completing Habits]. We basically moved to Hollywood for the four months we made it. I lived right near the Hollywood sign so I'd get to experience the heart of that and we were getting a lot of the soul of the album. In that way, it was fun, but I think I was more prepared for Picture Show and more excited about creating because we had become a band that people put through for a certain vision ... and I'm even more excited to do the third record now just because I feel more excited creatively to expand it.
I feel like there's a really nice mix of fun, energetic songs and more mature songs on Picture Show. Is that a hint of where you're going with the third album?
I don't think, consciously, we were thinking about the third album when we made the second album. The fact that we didn't remake our first album and we do have slower moments and medium moments and more production on some of the songs, it gives us an opportunity to have fun and be playful and not necessarily be pigeon-holed, which some bands tend to get labeled and then have to work within that sphere. I think we're allowed to be playful with our sound, so that's what's fun about it. I hope it works [laughs].
When you were writing Picture Show, were you worried that you would be pigeon-holed and that people would essentially be expecting Habits: Part 2?
Honestly, we weren't worried. I say this a lot but we were pretty fearless about what we were going to make ... We just decided if we were going to go pop on a certain song, really go there. If we were going to make it more energetic and more rock 'n' roll, let's really go there and really express the sound and themes that we want to instead of half-assing it or try to sound like we're proving something to our critics, so I think we accomplished a great deal of creative expansion on this album.
Have you started working on the third album at all?
It's still in the early stages but I just demoed about four or five songs, and I've shown the band some of it. It's exciting to just listen to early demos of songs early on because when we go to record it, we'll have lived with it for a little while. I think we're really excited to continue the vision of what we think the band is and what we think the band sounds like. I don't think we've fully reached that yet so it's good to be able to still be excited about the band. We're not bored with it yet; it just feels fun.
Like you mentioned earlier, there are a lot of cinematic themes to Picture Show. Outside of the horror genre, are movies a big inspiration to the band?
Yeah, it's what we do in our personal lives, a hobby of ours. But I'm enchanted by the idea of going into a theater and losing yourself and watching someone else's life and in a sense, for me, it's an escape. On the record, each song doesn't sound like the next one and each song has its own story and movie, in a way, and the production is different for each song and they each have their own movement ... I don't know how great an impact movies will be on the third record but I think, consciously, that was the direction we wanted to go, that theme of fantasy with this album, and I think we really went there with that.
In "Lessons In Love," you sing "I'm only lonely when the lights are on," and "I got the lights in my eyes, and I'm falling for you." Do those lyrics have anything to do with that idea of watching someone else's life?
Absolutely. "Lessons In Love" basically talks about being in love with a one-way relationship. Literally, I thought of myself watching someone else's life when I talk about "the lights in my eyes," and also the life and mysticism of being in Hollywood and being in the industry. It can be really disillusioning so that was how lights can be blinding. It's easy to fall for that but I think mostly it's just that feeling of feeling alone, even when you're with someone, and I feel that constantly. I think a lot of fans that I've gotten close to feel the same way. You get disillusioned even though you're with someone, really close to someone and you feel alone. It's this bad concept but I like that a lot of our songs are darker, sadder, more realistic but have a very different production and a different arrangement so it can also just be a dance song that someone likes to get down to.
How has the tour with Maroon 5 and Owl City been so far?
The tour has been my favorite support tour we've ever done. I think this one's been so fun because we're direct support to Maroon 5, we're able to do our own show with our lights and video projections and we're able to use their stage. I think too, in our career, we're in a place where people know our songs more than maybe a year or two ago so people are really coming to see all the bands play and not just Maroon 5. Then it's been cool to read the tweets and messages and reactions of "Wow! I knew you guys from the radio. I knew you from this song but I didn't know that I would love you so much live." That's the whole point of being on a tour like this is to sort of convert those fans in the half hour you get to play. It's really working for us so it's been a real blast.