Interview by Natalie Kuchik
April 16, 2010
Estrella: Can you please state your name and what you do in the band?
Tyler: Hi, I’m Tyler and I sing for Neon Trees.
Branden: I’m Branden and I play the bass.
Estrella: Your tour with 30 Seconds to Mars and MUTEMATH only has done a handful of dates so far, but how has it been going?
Tyler: It’s been really fun and almost a week now. I think actually total of a week.
Branden: Yep, a week today, our one week anniversary! (starts clapping)
Tyler: It really keeps getting better and I love the mid-west and south parts of tour anyway, so I am really excited to be here.
Estrella: Has it been really receptive?
Branden: Oh yeah, it has been awesome.
Tyler: Incredibly, it is cool because I think 30 Seconds has such a cult like fan-base. They are very receptive to us too and we love to have them as fans.
Branden: We appreciate the fans making a little room for Neon Trees in their lives.
Estrella: Has the venue been full because I know you guys play first?
Tyler: Yeah, very full.
Branden: Another good thing about them having dedicated fans is they all show up early.
Tyler: We are always playing for a big crowd.
Branden: It is just cool when they see my favorite band being 30 Seconds to Mars must like Neon Trees or MUTEMATH if they invited them on tour so I want to respect that and check them out.
Tyler: Another cool thing is to see people show up just for us and then leave which is flattering being such a small relatively new band. To have people really excited about us too is really cool.
Estrella: Another anniversary you have is your album Habits has been out for a month, what was the recording process like for that?
Tyler: Oh my god, I didn’t realize that! It was long, it was super fun, we took a long time with it.
Estrella: How long did you take on it?
Tyler: About a year almost.
Branden: I would say officially we started towards the beginning of March (2009). I remember “Animal” was written…
Tyler: In April.
Branden: I thought it was St. Patrick’s day or something.
Tyler: No, it was in April, something like that.
Branden: Anyway, from the time it was recorded to the time it was released it was a year.
Estrella: Your album Habits only has eight tracks on it, and then two bonus tracks, why not just have them as regular tracks?
Tyler: It was always meant to be a full length like that with ten, but I think today being a band, we want to get our CD’s sold in places where only in the mid-west fans can get to a Wal-Mart or something. The way music is changing retail outlets are trying to be more creative about how they make records. The option was to make an eight track record for certain retail outlets. I think it is super kind of retro the way records used to be and we are proud of all eight songs. I don’t think there are any filler, personally. I know I am biased but I don’t think there are any filler in the record where it starts again really quick.
Branden: I would rather have people wanting more than getting tired of it. You get an album and there are 13-14 songs and towards the end they are sleepers. I’ve had friends put out records where between bonus tracks and hidden tracks there are twenty songs and I think it is too much.
Estrella: How many songs were written for the album that you had to narrow it down from?
Tyler: For the album we wrote like sixty demos from the time we knew we were consciously making the record.
Branden: Yeah, we had a lot of material to pull from.
Tyler: Which is exciting because I think we had a lot of stuff that we can sit and toy with when it comes time to make a new record.
Estrella: Do you ever play any of those songs live?
Tyler: We do when we have more of an opportunity to play more songs. On this tour we get a half hour so we want to play songs from the record.
Branden: Especially now that people are supporting us and listening to us.
Tyler: Yeah and sing along.
Branden: We don’t want them to come to the show and hear songs they are not familiar. It is kind of a jip sometimes. If I went to go see The Stones go play and they said, ‘Okay we are going to play our new album tonight’ you would be like, I want to hear “Satisfaction”!
(The drummer Elaine Bradley enters the room)
Estrella: How did you choose Habits as the album title?
Tyler: I think the theme of the record is about habits we obtain and relationships and what we take on from that. It is also a nod to the lyrics from the opening to ‘Sins Of My Youth’, “I’ve got these habits that I cannot break.” It is a song about being honest and admitting we are not perfect people.
Estrella: Your single “Animals” has a regular video and a viral one, why two?
Tyler: The viral one was intended to be just a taste of what the band personality was and it was almost supposed to have a documentary feel. It took on a life of its own, it got released earlier before we really made the actual video and it took off online. The second one was more of an opportunity to make a proper video. We got to put a little bit more creativity and art into it.
Estrella: Which video do you prefer?
Elaine: I like them both. I think the first one shows the more fun side of Neon Tress, and I think there is defiantly a fun side to us personality wise.
Branden: The second one is more biographical in a sense.
Elaine: Yeah, it shows who we are and how we are in relation to each other with our interaction.
Tyler: I think the second one more exemplifies the live show experiences. It is still fun but it is kind of fun and quirky.
Elaine: It is a cooler atheistic the second one, like he said it is just more artsy which is another side of us.
Estrella: I feel like it brings out your album cover, the second one with the paint color choices.
Elaine: Oh, that’s cool.
Estrella: The Animal EP has four different remixes of “Animal” on it, how did you come together with the other three artists because I know Tyler did one of the remixes.
Tyler: Yeah, a couple of people sent in remixes and it was about picking the one’s we liked. I don’t want to bash anyone that remixed it at all but I take the theme of, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I like the song as it is but it was cool to hear someone else’s interpretation.
Branden: We also couldn’t put all of the remixes on there, there was so many that are available on other outlets as well.
Estrella: How did it work? Did they just send it to you?
Elaine: We reached out, or the label reached out for remixes and these people were interested in doing it.
Tyler: I like the Shuttle one a lot. The Shuttle one is cool.
Branden: I think our favorite versions of the song are the one’s fans do on YouTube. We get different people covering the song, there was a kid that did a bass tribute to “Animal”.
Tyler: I like the girls that just sing A capella, they are cute.
Elaine: Yes, they are very cute.
Tyler: We are honored that someone would want to play around with it.
Branden: People will do a little anime and put it on there.
Elaine: Anyone that takes the time to do something creative with the song is flattering. You know when artists talk about, “I knew we arrived when…” It is not that extreme but one of the times it was real to me that it was going pretty well was that first time I saw a YouTube cover of “Animal”.
Estrella: Do you remember which one?
Elaine: Marissa, she had two guys on stools sitting next to her.
Tyler: She has gotten a ton of plays on her own, based on our cover.
Elaine: I remember I watched that and it was so clear to me that somebody else thought that this song was good enough to cover. I actually teared up a little bit and though, this is so cool! It was good and flattering.
Estrella: Have you all gotten to meet any of those fans?
Tyler: I met Marissa at a show in L.A. Some of the others it is hard to tell where they are from.
Elaine: Some of them are very obscure, they might be small town Alabama. A lot of them are definitely not official, just people having fun.
Estrella: I saw on the Animal cover it is all four of your faces and each face is half animal and half you, did you get to pick your animal?
Elaine: No! (laughs) I’m a tabby cat.
Tyler: The Animal cover of me as the wolf had been out for awhile and our friend Todd kind of was like, all the other band members should be represented and we loved it. It kind of looks like a comic book or super hero movie.
Elaine: My father loved the cover so much, he thought it was artistically beautiful. He was raving about it, my father who is like 67. When we got that he was like, what are you going to do with all the faces. We actually each got a long poster with each of us on it and I gave mine to him and he got so excited and said he put it in his office.
Tyler: People comment on it.
Elaine: It is very artistic.
Estrella: It is, actually all of your covers seem to have a nice flow. Did the same person do all of them?
Elaine: No, it is just the same aesthetic.
Tyler: We are definitely choosing the vision for it. The girl that made the album cover for Habits was just a girl that had an art blog. I came across it, I think she is an art student and was flattered. I thought it fit what we were talking about in the songs.
Estrella: Your next single, is it “1983”?
Elaine: This is a really good question because it is still up in the air.
Tyler: We don’t know yet.
Elaine: We don’t know officially, we have thoughts about it. Maybe “Sins of My Youth”, maybe “Your Surrender”. I wouldn’t be surprised if “1983” crept in there and became the next single.
Tyler: We want “Animal” to be, well I think there are so many people that have not heard it. We want it to stretch around as long as it can.
Estrella: What was the video of “1983” I saw?
Tyler: We did a bunch of viral videos. It has been confusing because some people are like, why do they already have four videos.
Elaine: It totally is intended to be viral which I think they are seeming more official.
Estrella: I thought it was your official video!
Elaine: They are good, that is the thing.
Tyler: It is cool that these viral videos have gotten so many plays. I want to do some proper videos eventually. I think it is all about having content and there are a lot of places to see videos.
Estrella: You were polling your fans on their favorite song, does that have any wager on your next single?
Tyler: I think that was just to see what people would say.
Elaine: It’s interesting. I think it effects also to a certain extent the set list, to know what people like. I don’t know he (Tyler) writes the set list let’s be honest.
Tyler: “Girls and Boys in School”, I think that is a lot of people’s favorites and that is one I would always see to be a rad single but it is not on anyone’s radar at the label. It is cool to see “Helpless” which is a bonus track but people want to hear it. It is fun to poll and see what fans like.
Estrella: I saw Neon Trees is involved with Tap Tap Revenge, what is that?
Tyler: I was just playing that on my iPhone! It is like iPhone app of Guitar Hero. Tap Tap just added our song and it is the free song of the week.
Elaine: It is a really good way to get our songs out there.
Tyler: It is the highest rated app on iPhone as far as games.
Elaine: You have to listen to the song to play it.
Tyler: I don’t hate Guitar Hero, I just hate it because I am not good at it.
Elaine: I actually don’t like Rock Band or Guitar Hero but it is because I am no where near good on it, and it makes me feel like an idiot. I do this for a living!
Tyler: I love that it has gotten bands re-popular again.
Branden: Yeah, it’s gotten kids into classic rock.
Elaine: It also gives bands a chance that are not really mainstream and then kids love the songs they play on the game. I think they have done a good job with picking bands.
Tyler: What bugs me is when people think they are musicians that play it as well. I’ve noticed musicians that are good at their instruments are terrible at Rock Band. I’m not good at playing an instrument but there are some that are horrible.
Estrella: Wait, you don’t think you are good on an instrument?
Elaine: He’s really good at singing.
Tyler: I sing well, I think. I know that but I am not the best guitarist or drummer.
Elaine: They do have singing in Rock Band which you might be terrible at too. You do not sing on tune, you just have to follow the beat and inflection.
Tyler: They do, karaoke rock band. With Tap Tap though it is basically just the phone to beat.
Elaine: It is like a musical Simon.
Tyler: I failed within 3 seconds on Tap Tap.
Estrella: On your own song?
Tyler: On my own song.
Elaine: (starts laughing) I did not know that!
Tyler: I just don’t get the whole hand eye coordination thing.
Estrella: What is a song you never get sick of hearing?
Branden: “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.
Branden: Oh yeah, I love it.
Estrella: Any reason why?
Branden: It is just groovy, it has a groove.
Elaine: Honestly, “Good Times Bad Time” by Led Zeppelin, I don’t think I have ever gotten sick of that. I have loved it since I heard it when I was seven at the time.
Tyler: I never get sick of “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson. It makes me feel good all the time.
Estrella: What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Tyler: I want to play the UK.
Elaine: I was going to say I want to play in Germany.
Tyler: It is going to happen soon.
Elaine: So Europe for me and the UK for him.
Tyler: Personally, I am having fun, so we’ll see.
Elaine: I have done a lot of things so I don’t feel unfulfilled as a person. Things like go skydiving, I have been skydiving.
Tyler: I don’t desire to do skydiving.
Elaine: I don’t desire to do it again.
Estrella: It was a one time thing?
Elaine: Yeah, because my niece was going and she really wanted us to go. I would never seek it out, I am not a thrill seeker.
Estrella: Do you think Neon Trees will get to the UK this year?
Elaine: We have high hopes and it looks good.
Tyler: By the fall, yeah.
Estrella: When the 30 Seconds tour is over, what are you going to do?
Elaine: Not specifically yet.
Tyler: It is being figured out, there is going to be a summer tour. There are a couple of festivals we are doing.
Estrella: Do you know if you’re going to headline or support?
Elaine: I am pretty sure we will support on the next tour.
Tyler: Yeah, it is a co-headlining tour.
Elaine: Oh is it? Do we have on yet?
Tyler: Yeah, but we are not allowed to talk about it.
Estrella: I get that answer all the time!
Elaine: Yeah, I don’t know about it, you can talk to me (laughs)!
Tyler: But we are playing Lollapalooza.
Estrella: Oh really? How fun!
Tyler: We are allowed to talk about it. We were supposed to wait until we played today, but since this story is not going to go out until later, we can.
Elaine: It is streaming live!
Branden: Everyone that was walking to the venue is now turning around and saying, eh, we will see them at Grant Park.
Tyler: We are excited about it, there are so many cool bands we get to see and then play.
Estrella: How did you guys end up on Lolla?
Elaine: Booking agents submitted us and we were chosen.
Branden: We like to think they like us.
Elaine: We like to think it was on musical merit that we were picked.
Tyler: And I want to meet Lady Gaga, so maybe that is an opportunity.
Estrella: What other bands are you excited to see there? It is a really good line-up?
Elaine: The Strokes, that is really exciting.
Branden: Our friends in MUTEMATH.
Estrella: Who you see everyday on this tour.
Tyler: Arcade Fire.
Elaine: Oh wow, yeah, that’s exciting.
Tyler: I forget half the bands playing.
Branden: This little band out of the bay area called Green Day.
Estrella: Really? I have not heard them.
Branden: They are going to open for us.
Tyler: I think Semi Precious Weapons will be cool.
Branden: Kasakde and Empire of the Sun.
Elaine: Yeah, a lot of good bands.
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