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Neon Trees wanted to balance fresh and familiar on sophomore album

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2012

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After winning some notice with its 2010 debut album "Habits," Neon Trees took an "if it's not broken, don't fix it" approach to this year's "Picture Show," according to bassist Branden Campbell.

But the sophomore album, which debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 in April, is hardly a carbon copy of its predecessor.

"We wanted to keep doing what we're doing but also expand from there as well," says Campbell. "Neon Trees actually started as more of an electronic band, where they actually had a drummer that played the V (electronic) kit and two keyboard players. But when time Elaine (Bradley) and I got involved, we brought more of the organic approach.

"This time we realized there's still some of that other stuff (the band) used to do, and maybe we should start touching on some of that again and remembering how much we love Depeche Mode and Joy Division and Cocteau Twins, stuff like that. So we did that -- without putting away the guitars, of course."

"Picture Show" has also yielded Neon Trees' biggest hit to date. "Everybody Talks" hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Adult Top 40 chart, and Campbell says the success wasn't exactly surprising.

"That was the first thing we (recorded) actually," he recalls. "We knew it was going to be our lead single, and the bridge between 'Habits' and the new record. You're always anxious to throw out your new stuff and say 'Look how much we've grown,' but we knew we wanted to make sure we had something that would get us to that spot.

"(The song) came about around the time things were taking off for the band, and as much as you get people cheering you on you also get people saying, 'Oh, you're not so great.' You get the critics and the naysayers, which to me says, 'Well, man, if we're worth talking about then obviously we're doing something.' That's kind of theme of the song."

Neon Trees, Rita Orca, Conor Maynard, The Cab and Ryan Beatty perform at Amp Live's Kringle Jingle on Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and $25. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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