“The central theme is escape,” singer Tyler Green told CBS Local. “We always felt like it was such a marvel to be able to sit in the theater and escape in the darkness…and watch someone else’s life for 2 hours. We’ve always thought of our shows and our music as a way to forget your problems for 45 minutes or an hour.”
Tapping into elements of cinema and old Hollywood lead this foursome from Utah to explore what really appealed to them about Los Angeles. Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen are Southern Cali natives, born and raised but Glenn wasn’t a huge fan of the city when he was younger. “I used to fear L.A. a lot. I used to not enjoy it,” he commented. “It was too big and too vast. It seemed very cold and plastic.”
But the experience of living in Los Angeles while they recorded made Glenn fall in love with the city. “I love how Hollywood, the city, is actually very trashy but in a rad, novel sort of way.”
Bassist Branden Campbell is a fan of the rock ‘n roll history of the Sunset Strip, but says, “You need to remember too the earlier days. That’s where the Byrds came up, and Buffalo Springfield, the Doors playing at the Whiskey…a lot of those stars are associated with more grassroots music. You don’t think of the hustle and bustle of the Sunset Strip with that, but that was the scene man.”
Rockstar life may be the darkest side of Hollywood, but Neon Trees offered their own take on the seamy side of the strip. Drummer Elaine Bradley weighed in, saying, “I know that there are bands these days that point out the girl in the audience that they want the bouncer to go talk to, to bring them back to the bus so they can get whatever to happen for them that they want…but we don’t choose to do that. Not to my knowledge.”
Fans and groupies alike have flocked to the Sunset Strip for years to meet their rock ‘n roll idols. “I think of how many bands I used to go see at clubs and would make them gifts and wait for them outside,” Glenn recalled. “The ones that were rad to me, I still remember.”
Now that the tables have turned, and Neon Trees are on the receiving end of adulation from fans, they hold those memories in their mind as the ideal way to treat their own fans. “Every time we go out to meet [fans], I think about that and I want to be that for that person,” Glenn said. “You might not think of yourself as a hero or an icon, but some people look at you that way.”
-Courtney E. Smith
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