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Neon Trees returns to Murrieta, Calif., for benefit concert, hasn't forgotten roots

By Kathryn Skaggs

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, July 12 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Neon Trees' Chris Allen plays guitar at a benefit concert in Murrieta, Calif., where he grew up. The Neon Trees performed at a high school just around the corner from the house where Allen's parents still live.

Studio 94 Photography

MURRIETA, Calif. — Neon Trees, the popular band many in Utah consider their own, returned to Murrieta, Calif., home of frontman Tyler Glenn and guitarist Chris Allen, to perform a benefit concert at Vista Murrieta High School's football stadium on June 8.

Glenn and Allen started playing music together 11 years ago in Murrieta, but it was difficult to find places to perform. The duo would end up playing in places like coffee shops, with just an acoustic guitar and a keyboard.

“Murrieta isn’t known for music,” Allen said. "We never really had anywhere to perform in the area."

That changed when the two moved to Provo, eventually adding drummer Elaine Bradley and bassist Branden Campbell to complete the lineup. It was there that Neon Trees started to establish a following.

“It feels really good to have graduated from practicing in our garages and having the cops show up to shut us down for playing too loudly," Allen said. "It is amazing to have the freedom to pursue what we love to do. We finally moved into a rehearsal space this year that is big enough to install a full studio. Doors are really beginning to open for us and we understand the importance of that."

The band has played shows all over the world, having toured with the likes of The Killers, 30 Seconds to Mars, Duran Duran and Maroon 5. Neon Trees recently announced that it will also be joining Taylor Swift on the Australia and New Zealand leg of her Red tour this December.

But they haven't forgotten Murrieta.

"It's pretty fun that we finally get to play a big show in our hometown," Allen said. "It feels like we've really accomplished something for there to be two states fighting over where we originate. We've always claimed Murrieta and Provo as our own."

Glenn attributes part of the band's success to his and Allen's friendship and vision, both of which were forged back home.

"We've shared this singular Neon Trees dream for over a decade," Glenn said in an email response. "It's a very wonderful thing to watch the payoff and feel the successes together."

Murrietta residents are proud of these successes, as well.

Kimberly Peeler, of Murrieta, has known both Allen and Glenn for 17 years.

“It has been so much fun," she said. "We started out going to shows with less than a hundred people. And look at them now."

Peeler recalls watching the band perform for a small crowd a few years ago for a New Year's Eve party in Salt Lake City.

"This past New Year's Eve, they played Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve, live in Times Square. It has just been so much fun watching their dreams come true," Peeler said.

The idea for a benefit concert began when former Vista Murrieta High School principal Darren Daniel asked Allen’s brother Jordan, an alumnus, to see if Neon Trees would consider doing a much-needed fundraiser. The two largest extracurricular programs in the school were in need of funding due to the school's reduced budget.

Allen said his father was a huge force in making the concert happen. Neon Trees began to establish a faithful following that began in Murrieta, and many in the community continue to maintain personal relationships with Glenn and Allen.

“The band moved back to Murrieta for about six months in 2007 to focus on writing," Allen said. It was there that the band wrote half of its album "Habits" in Allen's old bedroom at his parents' house.

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