On Monday night, before Boca Raton and the nation turned their attention to the final presidential debate, hundreds of South Florida students, community members, and music enthusiasts gathered at Mizner Park Amphitheater for the official Rock The Vote concert, featuring Neon Trees, and live stream of the debate.
Boca Raton mayor Susan Whelchel called the Mizner Park event “unprecedented debate watch party” and voiced that she was proud of the young people who attended.
“Tonight is truly a historic event and a defining moment for Boca Raton and Lynn University,” Whelchel said. “We have the unique opportunity to be a part of history in the making and we are grateful, grateful, grateful for Lynn University.”
The free, public concert was arranged in part by the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“When we first heard that Lynn University secured the final presidential debate we at the CVB tried to think of a way that we could leverage that attention and just talking about coming to visit wasn’t enough,” said Shirley Talbert, chief marketing officer for the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “So we decided to reach out to Rock the Vote to see if they would be interested in having a concert here because a lot of people don’t have a clear understanding of Boca. They may have some unclear perceptions, or inaccurate perceptions. We wanted to show the world how hip and cool and beautiful Boca is.”
Any inaccurate perceptions were certainly put to rest as the concert was streamed to Xbox users across the United States, giving the nation an opportunity to see our beautiful city.
While attendees were able to view the debates, it was ultimately the flashy, talented Utah pop/rock band that brought them to Boca’s grassy amphitheater, and Boca Raton had an exclusive opportunity to meet the entire band (Tyler Glenn, lead vocals/keyboard; Elaine Bradley, percussion/vocals; Chris Allen, guitar/vocals; and Branden Campbell, bass/vocals) before the show.
Below is our interview! For photos from the amazing concert, please visit our Facebook page, here.
BRM: How did Neon Trees become involved with Rock the Vote?
GLENN: [Rock the Vote] approached us and I think we both really feel a sense of music appreciation. We don’t really get involved with a lot of political things, but because it’s such a music-centered, youth-centered program I think it just felt right.
BRADLEY: It’s inherently neutral, which is what’s great about it. I think most of the political things that we have either been approached to do, or could be approached to do, would be like, ‘Hey, play for this candidate or play at this rally.’ We don’t want to do that, because frankly we don’t share the same [political] opinion within the band, and as a band we like to champion things that everyone can get involved with and I think voting is one of those things. You can vote, and that’s the beauty of a democracy and the beauty of America. The fact that at age eighteen, which is pretty young, you are allowed to have a say about what happens to your country. I think it is something to be reverenced and something to be appreciated, how you appreciate that is to use it.
CAMPBELL: You can’t drink a beer or gamble but you can choose who is going to lead your country. It’s amazing.
BRM: I recently saw you perform in Fort Lauderdale with Walk the Moon. I was blown away by your energy and theatrics on-stage. Can we expect that same energy tonight? Do you expect to see a lot of the same fans?
GLENN: Even more. Obviously we are the entertainment so are not going to dull it down...We hope we get there and there’s excitement in the air and I hope there’s a lot of youth that come out.
BRADLEY: I hope a lot of people decide to come out and watch the debates, because of coming to the show. I think that’s the whole point is, to lure the kids out with a fun rock show and then to say, ‘Hey, the second we stop playing, there will be a debate and you should probably just stay, seeing you’re out here.’ So I hope they do, and I hope they form opinions and vote because of it.
BRM: When you formed Neon Trees, were you able to fathom that you would enjoy this much success? Your first taste was obviously with “Animal,” but “Everybody Talks” has taken off in astronomical ways.
GLENN: I think when we originally started we had ideas of what success was, and I don’t think we had any pinpointed end goal. We had a lot of goals, but nothing specific, and then we got success with ‘Animal’ and I think there was a worry like, ‘Wow, can we top this?’ and it looked like maybe we wouldn’t. Then I think we got together and realized that we wanted to make something that was fearless and that sounded like us too. We did it, and now ‘Everybody Talks’ is bigger than ‘Animal.’ It’s one of those things where I think staying true to why you got into something in the first place is a lesson that we’ve learned.
BRADLEY: I think our general attitude has always remained centered on the point. After we had the success with ‘Animal,’ Tyler actually said, ‘Guys, we should be so lucky to have had the success of “Animal’ if we never have anything that successful again we should still feel super grateful.’ That’s the general attitude we all try to have. We want to make music because we love it and because it is something that’s inside us. We love performing and we hope that people like what we do. We hope that people want to support us and come to shows, and buy the single or buy the album, but if that doesn’t happen it doesn’t make what we are doing any cheaper. We want to do this for the pure reasons and not because we need a single that’s big. I think keeping that attitude has first helped us still enjoy our own music, and second, is hopefully the reason why it’s able to be popular. Because we are staying true to what we want to do.
BRM: What are you most proud of on “Picture Show?”
GLENN: I think there is a cohesive nature [to the album], while still maintaining different sounds in each song, which is really hard to do. You can come across sounding desperate...But I’m really proud of the production strides we’ve made and the song craft is even better, to me.
ALLEN: I like some of the more extreme, emotional sounds we were able to tap into. We have some real gritty stuff, we have some real chill stuff, we have some real sing-a-long, poppy stuff, and it’s just all there. It’s all stretching our ability.
GLENN: I think there’s a way where you can put out a record that you’re proud of, and you can say, ‘Oh, it’s great’ and then maybe never listen to it again? But I still listen to [our albums]. It’s still in my phone, that would be one of the albums I put on. It probably sounds weird to listen to your own voice.
BRM: Weird, indeed. What’s that like?
GLENN: It’s fun. I forget that it’s us, so that’s something I’m proud of.
CAMPBELL: Well, when you play it live to the songs kind of take their own direction and some of the tones end up different, in their own good way. But you come back to the record and you remember, ‘Man, look at what we’ve made.’ To me it’s still weird that for how many singles that we’re selling for ‘Everybody Talks,’ the truth is it’s not that many albums of the whole ‘Picture Show’ and I think people are crazy. I think that people need to get with it and people need to buy the whole album.
GLENN: Because they’ll enjoy it, just as much as ‘Everybody Talks.’
BRADLEY: Don’t deny yourself the rest of the enjoyment you could have, you know? Why do that to yourself?
CAMPBELL: That’s going to be my campaign for the next year, getting people to buy the album.
GLENN: I wonder, because I think a lot of the people still have the album without buying it.
BRM: Any thoughts on illegal downloading?
GLENN: It’s really bad, honestly.
ALLEN: ‘Everybody Talks’ isn’t the best song on the album and [listeners] need to figure out for [themselves] which one it is. But it really isn’t.
BRADLEY: If you own the album without actually having bought it, I don’t think that’s the best thing, however, if you come to our shows because of it, it’s kind of a trade off.
CAMPBELL: Yeah, I’m not saying that in a money way either, that I want the sale. I just want people to make sure they know the music.
BRM: What does 2013 hold for Neon Trees? I saw you just announced a tour with Maroon 5. Congratulations!
GLENN: Thank you. It’s a big deal. I think we are excited to get in front of a fan base that’s not ours. Obviously there are a lot of people who listen to both bands, but I think the point of going on tour with bands is to steal their fanbase.
CAMPBELL: And it will give our fanbase a chance to see some other great bands as well. We are kind of similar with Maroon 5 in the aspect that we’re known as a pop-rock band, but the foundation is really just of a band of people that came from a garage, that came from smaller stages, playing music together. It’s not this hit generator, manufactured thing. Maroon 5 is a great funk-rock band, and when people go to their shows they get to see that.