Neon Trees exploded onto the music scene with "Animal," the catchy dance rock track that earned them the 2011 Billboard Award for Top Alternative Song.

When asked if he expected this sudden surge in popularity, singer Tyler Glenn flatly says no.

"At the same time, I never think that we're bigger than we are," he adds, "I'm almost self-deprecating to a fault, and sometimes don't allow myself to realize how big we've gotten to some people."

Glenn says this struggle helped inform Neon Trees' latest, "Picture Show," which came out in April. He says the album deals with "experiencing the taste of fame and how it can really swallow you up if you want it to."


"All the songs that I was writing about for this record were about escape," he explains. "I like the way I feel when I go to see a movie, seeing someone else's life for two hours."

For Neon Trees, they were able to capture the sounds of this escapism by working in Los Angeles.

"We created and recorded the record in Hollywood, and every day walking to the studio, I saw the Hollywood sign," Glenn says. "It's interesting how it's changed for me. I used to fear it and hate it, and I think in the last couple of years, getting to know the city more ... it's really a magical city."

Glenn credits his musical mentors for helping him strike the delicate balance of dealing with popularity. He says he learned from singers of bands the Trees have opened for, notably 30 Second to Mars' Jared Leto, whom Glenn calls "an actual, passionate, real frontman."

Glenn's sense of identity is taking shape: "I'm always pushing that mantra or motto that 'fame is dead' -- that the idea of 'fame shouldn't be an end goal, but it should be a byproduct of your success and your passion.'"

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