Tyler Glenn is buzzing off his first performance of Excommunication, his new solo album which documents his break from the Mormon Church. Glenn, who came out as gay in an April 2014 issue of Rolling Stone, had stood with the church for his entire life before he finally put his feelings of alienation and frustration into song. Now flying alone, without his former bandmates, Glenn is set on reinventing himself.
As Glenn navigated between appointments in New York City, we hopped inside his car for a chat while cruising through town. Here, Glenn opened up about Excommunication, going solo, and his opinion on the current electoral climate.
Out: You said in an August interview with Out that you felt far away from the Angry Tyler in the "Trash" music video. Where are you now emotionally?
Tyler Glenn: I'm good. I still have anger at times, and I think it's important to validate anger as a feeling. I think the air gets all thick in the room when we bring up anger and things that are uncomfortable. That's valid and we should recognize it. In the "Trash" video, I did that because that was how I felt--shunned and not accepted.
This was one of the first shows you did solo. How did it feel performing without your band?
It was weird but amazing at the same time. It's just me on the stage. I think the weird part was after, just being alone in the dressing room. 'Cause after Neon Trees shows there's this frivolity after and we just talk about the show, or about our favorite Julia Roberts movie, or something random, or what we want to eat. Things like that. But this show and this record and the music are so personal and so it just feels amazing to do it. I wanna do more. I'm like, I want more shows! I have a couple more coming up, but I wish it was a tour.
What do your former bandmates think about you going solo? Have they said anything to you about it?
Yeah, they were always supportive of me doing a record on my own. 'Cause even before I had this specific record, I had ideas that just sounded different, and creatively, I was working on music that just represented something different. So they've been cool. You know, two of them are Mormon and myself and Chris [Allen, guitarist] technically aren't anymore, so that created some awkwardness. I think it's understandable awkwardness. I mean if you believe in something and someone else is challenging that, that can be a little weird, so I recognize that. And it took a minute for us to heal, but we're in a good spot.
The music on this album is so aggressively different from your previous work. Do you have any musical inspirations that you listened to while you were writing?
Yeah, I think I've tried to always bring my personal musical tastes to Neon Trees, but we're a band and we have a sound in that band. But artists, for me, that really I dove into, that I've always been a fan of, were Nine Inch Nails, and lots of mid-80s Depeche Mode records and early '90s Depeche Mode records. But even certain Kanye records and even Rihanna, in the pop realm, like Tove Lo. There's certain modern artists that are using pop in a cool way and I was paying attention to that, too.
If you could tell anything to the LGBT kids who are in the Mormon church now who are figuring out who they are--their identity, how it fits in within church--what would you say?
When I was gay and Mormon, I was speaking to those kids and saying, You can make it work. I think that the Mormon church is a toxic space for LGBTQ people, let alone a safe space at all. But, I would say, Be safe and if it's not something you're feeling, know that you are worthwhile. I think you are bigger than that religion. I think your orientation's divine and you should embrace it, and be stoked, and I think you're way more creative and way more important than this archaic system. There are great things within it, but to me I think that specific religion is a heteronormative family-centered organization, but it's not the only way, and it's definitely not the only truth.
What's next for you as a solo artist?
I don't know! [Laughs] I made this record, I'm excited to have it reach people, but I don't know what's next. I love making music, so I want to make more.
Do you think Neon Trees will be reuniting and making more music anytime soon?
No, definitely not. But Neon Trees is still a band, we still play. I want to create another record when it's right, but I can't go back and make the same thing. And where I'm at now, it needs to be able to be another step forward. I just don't want to go back to something where there's a creative ceiling. So, I'm totally excited to make another record at some point with the Trees.
So considering the electoral climate that we're in, what do you think about the conservatives in the Mormon church, or in general, who are voting for Trump?
It's so offensive. Like, it used to be comical, like we were like, Oh, Donald Trump! He'll never make it! But now it's disgustingly scary. But what do I think about the people voting for him? I wouldn't say they're stupid. I don't agree with their point of view at all, but when it comes down to it, I think anyone voting for Trump is kind of...ridiculous. But I wouldn't call them stupid or dumb or even hateful, I just think they're ridiculous. Like why? He's not the guy.
Can I ask who you're voting for?
I'm voting for Hillary. I'm with her. But I'm with anyone that can continue to change the status quo. I love the idea of having a woman president. We just had an amazing black president. I'm down to have a woman. Keep progressing.
Excommunication will be released by Island Records on October 21. Glenn will also be opening for Fitz and the Tantrums in Oakland, Calif. on October 12 and in Los Angeles on October 14.