Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images for Hilton
While the ramp up to your holiday season might consist of untangling a Gordian Knot of twinkle-lights and making shopping a full-contact sport, for Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn, he kicked off the season by performing with a musical supergroup on national television.
“It’s a nice little escape from a normal band thing,” Glenn says, having just landed in Washington, D.C., to perform at a Hilton@Play concert this past Friday, Dec. 5. "All this last year I was kind of uninspired by things. In a way, I’m really excited there’s a fresh start coming."
“It’s definitely a random group of people and a lot of people I thought perhaps I would never be in a music group with, but I’ve enjoyed my time.”
Glenn’s a member of pop supergroup Band of Merrymakers, a motley crew of musicians brought together by Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin and producer Sam Hollander. Natasha Bedingfield, Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick of Fitz and the Tantrums, Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, and Owl City are just some of the artists who make up these 21st-century carolers.
They performed on the Today show and at NBC’s annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center special last week. Charitable proceeds from the album go to MusiCares, the charitable arm of the Grammys.
“There’s a nice level of campiness to the whole thing, it’s pretty self-aware,” Glenn explains. “But I think because it’s the holidays you can kind of get away with that.”
“For me the holidays are kind of wired, so it’s come at a good time to just smile and sing joyful songs. We appeared at Mount Sinai to sing for sick kids, which is such a heart wrenching experience, but joyful as well.”
As Glenn explains, he gets rather pensive around the holidays, so they tend to be a mixed bag. “It’s the end of the year and I’m very very overly reflective anyway so I always look back and [think] ‘what could I have done different here.’ I won’t say weird in a totally negative way, but it’s a highly reflective period.”
Like many of us, Tyler will be spending the holidays with his family, which he says will be a relief.
“I need it, I just went through my first breakup, so I’m writing a lot of music now. In a weird way I feel like I’m back where I was last year, where I was kind of lonely, so I’m back in this lonely mindset, but the Christmas band has come at a good time and this really creative rush has come. I’m really enthusiastic about music again."
First breakups can be rough, but just because he’s loved and lost, doesn’t mean Glenn’s hold up in a housecoat watching Lifetime TV shows.
“There’s some sort of liberating spirit in it, in a way," he explains. “I don’t want to talk shit on my ex, but I probably will in songs later. It’s rough because it’s sort of new and [he was] my first genuine boyfriend. It took up all of last year, so for me it’s a bit weird.”
The upshot to all of this: It’s more material for Neon Trees’ next album, which Glenn says is in the works. It's a big one, it'll be the first album he's writen as an openly gay man.
“I know there will be an album soon, but I don’t know what it’s gonna look like. I’m writing a lot of music. There’s definitely an album next year,” he says. “I will say it’s definitely been the most cathartic album to write. Our last record for Neon Trees, I hadn’t come out, but I was writing a lot about my experiences being closeted for most of my life and battling with that and with faith and with hiding who I was. Now I actually get to write about that stuff and being post all that, so that experience has been really cool to write about. I’ve probably been the most frank in my lyrics lately."
The Trees frontman says he wants that frankness and honesty to shine through in Neon Trees’ next LP. “I definitely want the next thing that I do and we do to be important," Glenn admits. "Sometimes I look back at the some of the albums we’ve done, and they were important to me and important to me at that time, but I think I want to make more of a conscious statement next time. I’m not in a rush to put anything out just to fulfill some sort of contract quota.”
Glenn’s promising a lot there, but considering all that’s happened since the last one came out, there won’t be any shortage of experience to draw upon.
For more information on how to experience Hilton@Play concerts, visit the website.