Mom, Mormon, rock star: Neon Trees drummer Elaine Bradley talks family, faith

Published: Thursday, June 12 2014 3:45 p.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, June 16 2014 2:00 p.m. MDT

Elaine Bradley with her husband Sebastian and son Bryce.

Provided by Elaine Bradley

Elaine Bradley is a wife, mother and Mormon who lives with her family in quiet and conservative Provo, Utah.

She's also a rock star.

Bradley is a member of the American new wave/pop/rock band Neon Trees, which has been rising in notoriety over the past half decade. While her career as a drummer for a high-profile band may defy the Mormon mom stereotype, Bradley has found a way to live her beliefs, cherish her family life and pursue her passion for music. And whether she's on stage in Amsterdam or walking the Provo River Parkway, she tries to maintain perspective on it all.

"This life has a purpose, and the purpose is not to get famous, but ... to work on yourself and your relationship with God and then to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ," Bradley said. "I think believing all of those things and then working on those things really has a way of putting all the other stuff into its proper place so that I can appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given and I can appreciate the fun things that come with the job that I have, but it doesn’t rule me and it doesn’t dictate who I am."

Life has changed for the Provo-based Neon Trees — composed of Bradley, lead singer Tyler Glenn, guitarist Chris Allen and bassist Branden Campbell — ever since the band opened for The Killers in 2008. Neon Trees' first big hit was "Animal" in 2010. The single "Everybody Talks" was featured in a Buick commercial in 2012 and later reached the sixth spot on the Billboard singles chart.

A Rolling Stone review of the band's most recent album, "Pop Psychology," describes Neon Trees' music as a "refashion(ing of) post-Strokes dance rock into unshakable radio pop.

"If the Utah band was from New York or L.A., its slick simulations of neo-New Wave might seem cynical. But there's something sweet about kids from more or less the middle of nowhere getting their little piece of modern rock."

"Pop Psychology," released in April, is the band's third studio album. Neon Trees is in the midst of a summer touring schedule and will perform in Salt Lake City at The Complex on June 16.

The success and attention the band has achieved have been considerable. But Bradley, who attended BYU, served as a full-time Mormon missionary in Germany and married her husband in an LDS temple, knows the importance of staying grounded, especially when it comes to faith and family.

Bradley's beliefs and conversion story were recently featured in a video, released April 2, that was produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the "I'm a Mormon" campaign. In the video, Bradley explains how she came to have a testimony and form her own relationship with God.

"They just contacted me," Bradley said. "It’s one of those things where you can’t say no. It’s kind of like a (church) calling — you could say no, but you probably shouldn’t.

"I’m glad to have done it. It’s one of those things that I’ve spent time just clicking and watching ("I'm a Mormon" videos), so it’s fun to have one of my own. I thought they did a really good job."

Since the video's release, Bradley has received feedback that's been both positive and critical.

"It’s been overwhelmingly positive, for sure," she said. "Of course, you have random people saying slightly negative things — not so much about the religion, but more like trying to be principled and call me out on stuff, like, 'Well I don’t think every Neon Trees song is in keeping with the doctrine of the church.'"

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