Neon Trees Lets Loose After Frontman's Brave Revelation: 'Everyone Has to Come Out Somehow'

The members of Neon Trees have become intimately familiar with the lobby lounge at Los Angeles' Universal City Hilton. "We fired two managers on that couch over there," says Tyler Glenn, frontman of the Provo, Utah-based neo-new wave alt-rockers, standing among the Bermuda-shorts-clad tourists in his purple tartan plaid trousers and matching metallic Doc Martens as he sips a club soda. "Was that four years ago?" he asks Elaine Bradley, Neon Trees' drummer, sitting nearby on a plushy white couch.

"Yeah," Bradley affirms.

"They're still in our lives - suing us," Glenn responds.

Ah, it's hard being popular. Neon Trees have camped out at the Hilton to complete the latest promo blitz for its third album, "Pop Psychology," released April 22 on Island, in hopes of eclipsing the band's past successes. Its 2010 debut, Habits, features the smash single "Animal," which hit No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. Follow-up "Picture Show" (2012) included "Everybody Talks," which peaked at No. 6. "Pop Psychology" represents what Glenn calls the quintessential Neon Trees album. "It's definitely our most pop-flavored record - it's called 'Pop Psychology' for a reason," he says. "But it works on other levels too. A lot of it comes from dark shit, but it's not a Nine Inch Nails record."

"That wouldn't have worked with our outfits," says Bradley, who's rocking electric-green platform wedge boots, with a laugh. "This is the first thing we've done where we've been completely OK with ourselves - on many levels."

Bradley is referring to Glenn coming out, in a Rolling Stone article in March. "I've had to think about my gayness more in the last two months than ever before," Glenn mock groans.

In the two years since "Picture Show," Glenn struggled so much with "leading a double life" that he had a nervous breakdown. He went into therapy, and the revelations he had made their way into his songwriting - and provided another layer to the album title. "Pop Psychology"'s buzzy, '80s-retro first single, "Sleeping With a Friend," which moves 64-60 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated May 3, is about "being a closeted gay man in love with a straight dude," says Glenn. Another song, the electro-doo-wop confessional "Teenager in Love," expresses the angst Glenn went through as a sexually confused teen. "I always felt like an overly emotional spastic around the guys I was secretly in love with," he says.

Glenn's declaration was even more surprising given the deep ties he and his bandmates have to Mormonism, which condemns homosexuality. Ironically, Bradley had filmed a segment of a heavily promoted video series, "I'm a Mormon," explaining her commitment to the religion - which happened to debut nearly simultaneously with Glenn's announcement. "That was hilarious!" she laughs. "And not planned at all."

Glenn, meanwhile, revels in the contradiction. "People don't see those things mixing - they completely butt heads," he says. "But that's why I came out as a gay Mormon. I'm not just going to throw away my faith. And I got more positive than negative reactions, even from Mormons. I got messages from high leadership in the Church saying, 'It's awesome you are doing this.' I was like, 'Really?' I'd never associated being gay with that kind of outpouring of love and support."

Then again, navigating the world as a misfit has long been a theme in Neon Trees' music.

"It's important that people with a microphone come out as who they are. Everyone has to come out somehow, in some way," says Glenn. "That's always been my personal message: Be who you are. It's simple and cliche - but awesome."


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