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‘Psychology,’ honesty add to Neon Trees’ glow

Utah-based band brings tour to Knitting Factory

Neon Trees plays the Knitting Factory on Tuesday.
Neon Trees plays the Knitting Factory on Tuesday.

When is a cliché not a cliché? When is it absolutely true to say that a band is having a crazy spring?

When that band is the Neon Trees.

The band’s third album, “Pop Psychology,” was released on April 22; it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock Album charts. The first single, “Sleeping With a Friend,” is at No. 8 on the magazine’s Hot Rock Songs chart in its 20th week since release.

In March, the Provo, Utah-based band, notable for having all four musicians be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, caused a different kind of stir when lead singer Tyler Glenn came out in Rolling Stone. Suddenly, Glenn became more than a Mormon pop star. He became a gay Mormon pop star.

In the Rolling Stone piece, Glenn admitted to some trepidation about how the band’s fan base, Mormon or otherwise, would react to the news.

It’s now a few months later, and Glenn said people have been really supportive.

“I think the band jokingly thought, “What if we, like, break all the young girls’ hearts?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t think they’re going to care,’ “ said Glenn in a recent telephone interview from a tour stop in Florida. “And they don’t. They still show up and I think they pretend that I’m straight. Which is really cute. They still say stuff like ‘You’re going to marry me.’ “

In fact, they’re seeing the size of audiences increase.

“I had a fear that coming out might detract from the music,” he said. “But it’s been the opposite so far.”

The music on “Pop Psychology” continues on the ‘80s-fueled trajectory the band started on 2010’s “Habits” and 2012’s “Picture Show,” the first of which sported the double-platinum single “Animal,” and the latter featuring the double-platinum single “Everybody Talks.”

The 30-year-old told Rolling Stone he’s known he was gay since he was 6, yet he decided to devote himself to his faith after high school and did a two-year Mormon mission in Nebraska.

The decision to come out, he said, came during the making of “Pop Psychology.” He’d been in therapy and decided to tell his therapist.

“It felt really good to talk to a stranger about stuff that I’d never really talked about to anyone,” Glenn said. “And I was writing simultaneously these songs on this record. So there were topics that kind of talked about identity.”

When the band’s producer, Tim Pagnotta, asked him about the meaning of one of the songs, and Glenn said he told him it was about a closeted gay man who falls in love with someone who can’t love him back. And then he came out to him.

“It was the first time I came out to someone who was a friend and in my life that I see every day,” he said. “The reaction was so good and positive that it dictated me telling my family, telling my friends, telling the band.”

The whole thing has been a positive experience, he said, noting he’s had church leaders reach out to him privately and applaud his going public. It’s certainly not affecting the group’s live show, which he calls energetic and engaging.

“The tour is going really well,” he said. “I feel like the audience is a little more passionate. It’s a nice connection.”

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