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Neon Trees Frontman Tyler Glenn Talks About Getting Into Music and Coming Out

Larry Marano, Getty Images

Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn is one of those singers who can electrify whatever stage he’s on. Glenn, who’s been singing since he was a young kid as a way to cope with the world, says music served as a foundation for his life. Last April, continuing to build that foundation, Neon Trees released their third full-length, ‘Pop Psychology,’ (yes, the one with the giant brain on the cover). The follow-up to 2012′s ‘Picture Show,’ it’s chock-full of timeless pop hits like ‘Sleeping with a Friend’ and ‘Text Me in the Morning.’

While the band just revealed dates for their upcoming ‘First Things First’ fall tour, the frontman took some time off from both singing and cooking (as you’ll find out) to answer a few of our questions about his start in music and the important role Glenn — who recently came out — now plays in the gay community.

Does the band name have anything to do with those weird looking trees from ‘The Lorax’?

No, my friends and I, in high school, used to hang out at an In & Out Burger in Calif. right by our school after school. It was a really old one and it had these neon palm tree lights inside. We would make these jokes that “neon palm trees” would be a really cool band name and we just kept it.

At what age did you start singing seriously and was it by your own fruition? Were you in chorus or did you take voice lessons?

I never did voice lessons. I would sing in church when I was young and then I was in a lot of community theater and school plays. But it wasn’t until ninth grade when I joined my friend’s band and sang for it. It wasn’t great at all, but I think it gave me the drive and desire to be on stage, which I needed since I wasn’t comfortable in life in general.

What got you into electronic music and what do you love most about it?

I enjoy some of the really aggressive-sounding electronic music. I don’t love the “club” culture that we have now — it’s not something I can really identify with. I remember when I was in high school and Radiohead‘s ‘Kid A’ came out. I thought it was so profound, but my friends who were Radiohead fans were really uncomfortable with the album and didn’t love it. I just remember that moment where it felt really ahead of its time. I really love that electronic music has come such a long way. Most of my favorite bands use some sort of electronic music.

What’s the one album we’d be surprised to find in your collection?

I actually love Lisa Loeb and I have her entire discography which isn’t really that cool, but I love all of her material.

Why did you choose ‘Pop Psychology’ for your new album title?

I started writing a lot of the record while I was in therapy. I thought the name had a really nice ring to it because it kind of evokes what the theme of the record is, but it also represents what it’s about visually — the bright colors and kind of pop art.

After recently coming out as gay, how does it feel to be a public part of the strides the LGBT community has been taking toward equality in music and film?

I’m getting more and more comfortable with the idea that I’m a public figure within the gay community. I really didn’t consider it, honestly, when I came out publicly — a lot if it was selfish. I wanted to do it for myself because I wanted to be sane. I’m starting to thoroughly enjoy when people come up to me and share their personal stories. If I’ve had anything to do with their level of comfort or their desire to be who they are, then I enjoy that. In that way, I’m fine with being a role model. I’m learning every day what that means, but I enjoy it so far.

What do you do for fun when you’re not touring or playing music?

I love hanging with my friends, cooking food and seeing movies. I’m pretty boring. I wish I was more of a do-it-for-the-story kind of guy, but I’m not.

Are you a good cook?

I consider myself pretty good.  In the past few years I’ve been getting the same excitement out of cooking that I get when I write a song. Since I generally only deal with things I’m passionate about, that’s pretty big.

Neon Trees’ Official Music Video for ‘First Things First’

Next: Watch Neon Trees Perform on the 'Today' Show

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