Tyler Glenn on LOVELOUD, Neon Trees’ New Era and Becoming Himself
Music Festival Coverage
Tyler Glenn has been busy. Neon Trees just came off a six-week tour (the band’s first since COVID-19), they’re releasing a new album in 2024 and Glenn is going to perform at this year’s LOVELOUD festival on November 3 at the Delta Center. “I’m a little fried,” he says laughing, “but energized at the same time by everything we’re doing.”
Glenn has been an integral part of LOVELOUD since its inaugural show in 2017. He even helped conceptualize the festival with his longtime friend Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. “[Reynolds] called me one day in late 2016,” Glenn recalls, “and said, ‘I’ve got this opportunity through Live Nation, and I kind of want your advice… I really want to do something for the LGBTQ+ community, even though I’m not part of it. I want to do something with this platform.’” Eventually they posed the idea for a proper festival with other artists that would be centered around the notion of unconditional love for LGBTQ+ teens and youth. “I think they’re the ones that have to build the future and feel like they have one,” Glenn says. The end result of those talks was a first-of-its-kind, sold-out pride event in downtown Orem. Glenn has since appeared on LOVELOUD’s lineup each year.
Part of the reason LOVELOUD is so important to Glenn is that he knows what it’s like to be othered for your identity. He grew up in the LDS church, and his peers in his suburban, Californian community called him slurs. Glenn came out in the early 2010s when mainstream rock music was far from LGBTQ+-friendly. While Glenn thinks the culture has progressed, he recognizes all the work that still needs to be done. “Now, it’s trans people and the most vulnerable who are being attacked,” he says. “You know, it’s this cyclical thing I’ve seen now. I turn 40 in a month, which is kinda wild. I’ve just lived long enough to see it’s always gonna be like a boogeyman mentality about things that are othered or made to be weird or taboo.”
“It’s not a complete about-face, but it’s definitely pushing the boundaries of where we’ve been on previous albums.”
Glenn believes that community events such as LOVELOUD help lay the foundation for a world in which LGBTQ+ youth are more loved and accepted than he was. Not only do these events give ostracized youth a place to experience unconditional love, they also give families an inviting, nonpartisan environment where they can educate themselves about LGBTQ+ culture. “I hate hearing that families have to choose between their faith and their kids,” he says. “As if you should ever be faced with that.” By inviting LDS and conservative families to LOVELOUD, Glenn hopes the festival fosters acceptance and defuses the “boogeyman mentality” that rifts LGBTQ+ youth and their families, a strategy he’s seen work in the years since the first LOVELOUD festival.
Glenn also wants LOVELOUD to be a fun show, and the proof is in the festival’s stacked billing. “We have Lauv headlining. We have Tegan & Sara. Myself and Dan will do stuff. We have David Archuleta who’s just left the church and come out,” he says. “People seem to show up every year, and I hope they come this year because we’ve put a lot of love into it as well.”
Glenn also has a lot to say about his personal growth over the last decade. In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Glenn came out to the world and said he wanted to start performing as his “whole self,” and while he considers the interview an important stride along his path, he now views it as a snapshot of who he was instead of an accurate profile of who he’s become. “Only a few years later I had a crisis of faith due to shitty policies,” he says. “I woke up to my own happiness and truth and just being like, ‘There’s a ceiling here if I remain in this faith that has literally no space for me to flourish and grow. It’s completely tailored toward straight, mostly white people, and I can’t keep doing this.’ So the best thing for me was to blow it and burn it all down, and those were just steps to me becoming completely me.”
He later adds, “Now I don’t have to double-think about like, ‘If I dress this way or act this way, is this going to put off some vibe?’ Sadly, at early Neon Trees shows, that was in the back of my mind. Even though at the onset I was this kind of larger-than-life performer, it felt like a switch I had to turn on. Now it seems more like a natural thing. I’m way more comfortable in my body.”
“I hate hearing that families have to choose between their faith and their kids.”
Neon Trees have grown right alongside their frontman. The band has released two boppy new singles from their upcoming album, and Glenn feels they’re representative of their current sound. “We started the era off with these first two songs deliberately because they’re a little bit left of the dial for us,” he says. He won’t reveal the album’s title just yet, but he claims the record will feel both new and familiar to longtime fans. “It sounds like a future-leaning Neon Trees,” he says. “It’s not a complete about-face, but it’s definitely pushing the boundaries of where we’ve been on previous albums.”
You can see Glenn perform along with other pop and alternative rock luminaries at LOVELOUD on November 3—tickets can be purchased online. Glenn also wants readers to know that he lives in Salt Lake City, and he encourages fans to come up and say hi if they see him out and about.
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