Neon Trees, the popular band many in Utah consider their own, went home to Murrieta, Calif., the place where it all began, to perform a benefit concert at a local high school football stadium on June 8. Those who follow the band know how ridiculous this may sound. Neon Trees just returned from playing massive concerts in destinations like Australia and the Philippines, and opened for Maroon 5 during its recent North American tour. Frontman Tyler Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen both grew up in Murrieta. The Glenn and Allen families are members of the Murrieta Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. Glenn, Allen, drummer Elaine Bradley and bass player Branden Campbell all served full-time missions for the LDS Church. Allen didn’t really know how a concert in Murrieta would ever come together because, as he politely put it, “Murrieta isn’t known for music.” "My dad was a huge force to get this to happen," Allen said. “Since Tyler and I started playing together 11 years ago, we never really had anywhere to perform in the area," Allen said. "Small music venues had to fight the city to hold shows. So we played coﬀee shops with an acoustic guitar and a keyboard. It's pretty fun that we finally get to play a big show in our hometown." Growing up, Glenn and Allen forged a friendship which has carried over into their work and is what's kept Neon Trees going strong. “It feels really good to have graduated from practicing in our garages and having the cops show up to shut us down for playing too loudly," Allen said. "It is amazing to have the freedom to pursue what we love to do. We finally moved into a rehearsal space this year that is big enough to install a full studio. Doors are really beginning to open for us and we understand the importance of that." "Chris and I have a unique relationship in that we have a mutual respect for one another, even at times when we're not respecting one another; if that makes sense," Glenn said in an email response. "We've shared this singular Neon Trees dream for over a decade, and it's a very wonderful thing to watch the payoﬀ and feel the successes together." Kimberly Peeler, of Murrieta, has known both Allen and Glenn for 17 years. “It has been so much fun," she said. "We started out going to shows with less than a hundred people. And look at them now. "One comparison comes to mind. ... I remember a New Year’s Eve about four years ago, our family was racing through Salt lake City trying to find the outdoor stage they were playing on. It was midnight, and we could hear their music bouncing oﬀ the walls of the buildings as we tried to figure out which street to run down to get to them. I remember we were freezing. We got to the stage just in time to hear them play their last two songs for a pretty small crowd. This past New Year's Eve, they played Dick Clark's Rockin New Year's Eve, live, in Times Square. It has just been so much fun watching their dreams come true.” The idea for a benefit concert began when Vista Murrieta High Schoolprincipal Darren Daniel asked Allen’s brother Jared, an alumnus, to see if Neon Trees would even remotely consider doing a much-needed fundraiser. The two largest extracurricular programs in the school had approached the principal and asked what he was going to do about reduced
funding in the school budget. Allen confessed that it required some persuasion to get the entire band on board to do the concert. “The band moved back to Murrieta for about six months in 2007 to focus on writing," he said. "The band wrote half of our album ‘Habits’ in my old bedroom at my parents' house.” During the concert, Glenn talked about that period and told the crowd, "For a while all of us lived here and it was a low time. We were doing a lot of things we shouldn't.” “We wrote this song in a garage on Whitewood.” and the band then played “Sins of My Youth” to an audience that seemed to ‘get it’. Opening the Neon Trees concert at VMHS, Tyler Glenn enthusiastically shouted to a screaming crowd, “It’s a real swell thing that you all decided to show up here on a Saturday night!” I can tell you, firsthand, as a 25 year Murrieta resident, that everyone around me at the concert was ‘one’ at that moment, knowing just how significantly funny, and joyful, that statement was – because Neon Trees 'is' easily the biggest thing to EVER happen in our city! I don’t know what these kids did in their ‘youth’ that they don’t want to talk about, but ‘everybody’ I talked to about both Chris and Tyler, and what it was like to know them growing up, and now, have nothing but good things to ‘talk about’. Robbie Parks, of Murrieta, has known Allen since they were 9 and remembers when Allen would organize groups of kids to go up to the Santa Rosa Plateau, a local ecological reserve, to do service and pick up trash. “Chris was always one of the nicest people to be around," Parks said. "... The cool thing about Neon Trees playing in Murrieta, to me, is that they have not forgotten their roots, and that I am going to be in the right town for their show this year.” Those roots are about family, friends and community - Neon Trees is still connected to as they continue their success story going forward - from wherever they decide to call home, on any given day. The roots which keep them grounded remembering who they are wherever they travel on this planet. “It feels like we've really accomplished something for there to be two states fighting over where we originate. We've always claimed Murrieta, Ca. and Provo, UT as our own. Tyler and I started in Murrieta, but formed a full band and established a following after moving to Utah,” said, Allen. Of those closest to him, Allen said (with a bit of humor), “Family has always been important. They have always supported me in whatever interests I've pursued. They have always oﬀered advice. Sometimes the advice was to maybe think about college and a traditional career path, but they always have the best intentions. Once the band started having success it was a real relief for my parents. They were already happy that I was doing what I loved, but they worried I'd never be able to support my own family; or myself for that matter.” Although Neon Trees is not a 'Mormon band', per se, all are of the Mormon faith and therefore, no doubt, influenced by Mormonism to some degree, regardless of current activity in the church which varies among members.
"I consider myself extremely blessed to have been brought up the way I was; considering the type of person I am." said, Glenn. " I guess I'm a questioner, and have a rebel spirit in my blood - but I also have a fantastic set of parents and a great family, and ever since I was young I have always appreciated diﬀerent walks of life, cultures, paths and choices. But I also have a very spiritual reverence that is ingrained in me. It's helped me stay afloat in a sometimes-chaotic industry." Speaking on how their faith influences the way Neon Trees does business, and why, Allen said, “Everyone in the band was either raised Mormon or converted. Since we all have that common background, it was easy to decide that drugs and alcohol wouldn't be a part of Neon Trees' routine. Being as busy as we are, if substance abuse became part of the picture, it would be impossible to keep up the work ethic we've established. And we like setting a good example as well.” Respect is key, according to Glenn, "None of us meddle in each other’s lives and choices, but we also have a family sense and will definitely call one another out if their choice is hurting them. I think all in all, there is a respect that I don't know if you always find in a successful rock band." Yes, the 'boys were back in town' and a good night was had by all! What had to feel great though, was returning home a success, and being able to feel the support of your hometown. "I loved the whole night. I loved seeing faces from the valley - that I've seen from either school, church or the town in general - come out as real fans of the band. It makes me feel like I've done something really impressive, maybe even more so now because of the support on such a local level. I don't even know most of them that showed, on a personal level, but it felt like the band and the audience were very in key with one another that night." There are not a lot of successful bands, the caliber of Neon Trees, who would have a topnotch high school principal speak as highly about them as does Darren Daniel, nor feel as comfortable about inviting the entire community to bring their families out, including his own, to enjoy a show together. "My 10-year-old daughter is thrilled to go to the concert. It's nice that I can bring her to a place and know that the language will be clean," said, Daniel. That kind of band doesn’t just happen. That kind of band starts with individuals’ deeply rooted in strong values, family and communities that care about each other, and then grows up into, at least with these four individuals’ - Neon Trees! Complete Neon Trees Vista Murrieta Benefit Concert coverage seePE.com