Bassist and backing-vocalist Branden Campbell speaks with us about the inspirations he still pulls as a veteran, and whether or not gross bathrooms are just an American thing …
Neon Trees is a frenetic rock quartet that consistently develops songs with a fate to end up digging themselves deep into a listener's cerebellum. With more than a couple ear-worming platinum singles under its belt, the act from Provo, UT have shown little, if any, acts of pushing the brakes, even in the face of their drummer, Elaine Bradley, having another baby in the oven.
While she won’t be at the skin-helm during the current tour — dubbed “an intimate night out” with Neon Trees — the act is still moving forward with a heavy touring schedule and releasing new songs. “Songs I Can’t Listen To” is its newest, and will likely be part of the band’s set when it gets here on Jun 15 for a performance at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, CO.
But before everyone does get to town, bassist and backing-vocalist Branden Campbell spoke with us about the inspirations he still pulls as a veteran, and whether or not gross bathrooms are just an American thing …
1. The coming tour is an “intimate night out” with Neon Trees. Why did you and the band decide to hit smaller venues this time around?
We want these shows to be a fan experience, and there’s a certain energy between fans and a band that happens in theaters and large clubs. It’s these types of places where rock n roll, punk rock, and even hip-hop were born. Back in 2013 I saw Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at The Fonda Theater in LA. It was a night to remember. No huge production or lasers were needed — just a handful of musicians sharing their craft. I think that kind of raw energy is lost in popular music today.
2. Is there still a thrill of performing every time you step on stage?
Indeed there is! I never want to take for granted that we get to play music for people. Music is special, and while there’s so much of it out there, it’s not lost on me that we have fans that dig what we do. We want to make it fun every time, and within that spirit of things, you never know what might happen
3. Does it ever get hard to continue performing each night?
I guess that might be an issue for someone that feels like they have to be someone else while they perform, or that they need to channel a different part of themselves. I like to keep a, ‘it is what it is’ mindset and just be myself. However, if there’s ever any technical issues with our equipment during a show, it can easily put you in a bad mood.
4. Are venue bathrooms disgusting no matter where you are in the world, or is that just an American thing?
Ha! Good question. I think it differs everywhere, even in other countries. A cool venue with impressively clean bathrooms is the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio. So let’s give a shoutout to them.
5. When you work on new music, do you pull inspirations from the same places you did when you first began, or has the process evolved?
There’s certain artists that will always be an inspiration, either in sound or their attitude. Environment is also a big factor. I like to be open-minded when it comes to those things. The most recent piece of music I’ve been working on came to me while playing an acoustic bass, sitting in a lawn chair in my backyard. But the time before that, I was in my studio, using drum machines and electric guitars.
6. How does it make you feel American Idol is going to have its last season ever next year?
I think Ricky Minor is a great bassist and musical director. However, I’ve never really tuned in to that show, or agree with the whole ‘pop-star democracy’ of asking people to vote to make someone famous. Plus I think it’s discouraging to kids who are left to think that’s the process if you want to be a musician. I loved growing up in the music scene in Las Vegas. It was a crash course, with some memories I’ll cherish forever. People should know its okay to bang away in your garage, and that hard work, mixed with talent, is still a viable way to have a career in entertainment.
7. There’s one bottle of water left in the fridge and everyone is parched. Who gets it and why?
Elaine! She’s drinking for 2.
8. Do you ever sit around and read comment threads on online articles, or is it something you avoid like the plague?
If you’re going to read what the critics say, you have to take the good with the bad. I often see artists disregard a bad review as ‘they just don’t get it’ or ‘they don’t understand our music.’ But if that same outlet writes something positive, the artist will use the quote to celebrate and promote themselves.
9. With Elaine growing her family — first of all, we send our congratulations — second, who’s the ‘cool uncle’ that spoils her kids the most?
It’s actually the cool aunty, Danielle, our tour manager. She’s always picking out and gifting cool clothes for Elaine’s babies.
10. Are there secrets you’d like to tell us about as far as new music/albums on the horizon?
We’ve reserved spots on those commercial space flights. We’re taking the band on tour to outer space.