Deb Glenn has a wall dedicated to her famous son — Tyler Glenn, lead singer of new wave pop band Neon Trees — inside her home in the San Diego area. The space is decorated with fan art, rare posters, a platinum plaque for the band’s single, “Animal,” and a 2011 “Top Alternative Song” Billboard Music Award for “Animal.”
“It’s almost to the extent that it’s a little embarrassing when I come home,” Glenn said over the phone last month from New York. “It’s like a shrine, in a way — a wall of fame. It’s really sweet, but I do feel bad for my siblings sometimes that I’ve taken over a wall.”
Deb attends Neon Trees shows whenever she can and accompanied the quartet in New York for the launch of its new album, “Pop Psychology.” When the band, which will take the stage Tuesday at the Riviera Theatre, performed recently on “Live! With Kelly and Michael,” Deb, a longtime fan of the daytime talk show, was in the audience. Co-host Kelly Ripa acknowledged Deb during the broadcast, telling Tyler: “I see your mom is here. And I love when she comes here because she gives me such joy. Watching her watch you makes me happy.
Needless to say, his mom was thrilled.
“She was always a big fan of ‘Regis and Kelly,’ which became ‘Kelly and Michael,’” Tyler Glenn said. “She knows the producers’ names. … I felt like I took a lot from my parents when I was a teenager. It’s nice to grow up and be able to pay them back.”
Glenn comes from a Mormon family (he embarked on a two-year Mormon mission in Nebraska after high school) and is the second-oldest of four children. His dad sold medical devices and his mom was a homemaker who taught a class at church on Mondays. And yet, Tyler Glenn — who is sporting a bleached blond ‘do these days instead of his trademark black mohawk — said his parents aren’t phased by his many eccentric looks. They’re used to it by now.
“I was kind of a character ever since I was 10,” Tyler said. “I would always use fashion and hairstyles as a way to express how I was feeling that given week. My older brother was very straight-laced, so it was a little bit of a shock for them. My hair was patterned after (The Cure singer) Robert Smith and Edward Scissorhands in high school, and my clothes were too tight because I wanted to look like The Clash.”
“Pop Psychology” earned Neon Trees its highest ranking on the Billboard 200 (No. 6) and the Top Rock Albums chart (No. 1). “Psychology” is the band’s third studio album and first since Glenn revealed he is gay in an April issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Glenn is open about his sexuality on the album, including in the songs “Sleeping with a Friend” and “Living in Another World.”
It’s one thing to to talk about it on the album; it was another to talk to his parents about it for the first time. Glenn felt anxious coming out to his parents because he didn’t want it to change his relationship with them in any way.
“I was with my mom and had just visited family on the East coast,” Tyler said. “We were driving to the airport and I decided to tell her then. She thought I was joking, which was really sweet because for a while I thought she was waiting for me to tell her. Both of my parents made it apparent right away that it wasn’t going to change anything.
“The only reason it got emotional was because she didn’t want my close friendships to change. She didn’t want me to be hurt. When she was growing up, there were a lot of different thoughts on homosexuality that weren’t always positive. And on the news she’d hear about (anti-gay) violence. I assured her a lot of great strides have been made.”
Because of its subject matter, Glenn was curious how his mom would feel about “Sleeping with a Friend.” He points out that the song isn’t sexually explicit and discusses the pitfalls of taking things to the next level, but it’s somewhat risque by Neon Trees standards. His mom ended up loving the song, he said, just like she loves all things Neon Trees.
Glenn fondly recalled the first time his mom heard one of the band’s songs on the radio. It was his first time experiencing it as well. They were in the car driving around looking at Christmas lights in 2009, as they always do around the holidays, when “Animal” came on. Glenn said there was screaming involved — “She always makes things really exciting” — but it was more emotional than anything else. She expressed her pride in that moment and has continued to let him know how proud she is of him regularly since then.
The last time his mom said it?
“Last night,” Tyler said. “And even today she said it in her Facebook status. It reminded me how lucky I am.”
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When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: The Riviera Theater, 4746 N. Racine Ave.
Tickets: $22 in advance, $25 the day of the show, at jamusa.com
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