Elaine Bradley of Neon Trees

Elaine Bradley of Neon Trees : Modern Drummer MagazineWelcome to my blog entry. I am elaine bradley (I don’t like capitalizing my name because I love lowercase e’s). I drum and sing backup vocals for Neon Trees, and we have been on tour with 30 Seconds To Mars and Mute Math. Basically, what that means is that I get to be around really, really good drummers almost every day.

I have always been a performer. I used to make tapes when I was really little. I would be the radio DJ, the songs, the stories, and the commercials. I became enthralled with the drums at an early age. I think I was about five when I started banging on pots and pans with wooden spoons. I would ask my parents for drums frequently, but they thought it was a phase that would pass. After several years, and tireless begging, they bought me a Sears drumset. It was a bass, snare, floor tom, hi-hat and crash (tiny splash cymbal mounted on the bass drum). I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Frankly, I wasn’t very good, but I played it all the time. Within a year, that little set was destroyed. Then my parents bought me my first real set—a black Tama Rockstar with Paiste cymbals.

Flash forward to my freshman year of high school. I formed a band with some friends and played the drums and sang “until we could find a drummer.” We eventually found a really good drummer, and I moved to guitar. I fronted that band for several years. It was during this time period of not playing the drums that I became better at them. That may sound weird, but it’s true. I would listen to and watch our drummer, and then I would air drum to everything in the car or at home. I learned to think of drumming in a way I hadn’t before—as an equal instrument, capable of evoking feeling just like bass and guitar.

That band broke up, and I went to Germany on a mission for my church. While there, I met one of my now–best friends. After we finished our time in Germany, I moved to Utah for school and to play music with Bryce. We tried getting together and playing guitars, but somehow it just wasn’t working. I felt bad because he didn’t have anyone else to play with, so I offered to jam with him once a week—him on guitar, and me on my old Tama that I still had. After years of not drumming, I began to drum again, and I discovered that I was better than I thought. So we formed a band with me on drums. That band ran its course around the same time that Tyler and Chris were looking for a drummer and bassist…and so the current line-up of Neon Trees was born.

Since I am a female, I will address that issue. A lot of people ask me what female drummers influenced me. Truth is, I never really thought of it that way. And by that I mean, I never considered myself a “girl drummer.” I just think of myself as a drummer. I don’t want to be “really good for a girl”—I just want to be “really good”!

If you like talking gear, then you’ll enjoy this little paragraph. I currently play a maple Sonor Custom Delite kit, and I love it. I play a maple Craviotto snare. I use DW hardware and Remo heads (except for the bass head, which is Aquarian). I use Vic Firth 3As, but I have been known to enjoy a 5A from time to time.

For more on Elaine Bradley and Neon Trees, go to www.fameisdead.com.



  1. Pingback: Female Drummer: Elaine Bradley « Zofie

  2. Mkoscianski

    Just saw your show tonight and you made my night (calgary). I was the guy right next to you the stage and was writing you notes on my phone and buying you drinks. Thank you for being so…normal.

  3. Derik

    Hey Elaine! Congrats on the baby!! My wife & I just had our 2nd child (a boy), one month ago. I’ve been playing drums for about 35 yrs. now and currently teach drums and do session work. I’m playing for a band tonight, and one of the songs we’re doing is “Animal”, very fun tune! Sound weird coming from a guy who plays mostly RUSH, but hey, I like everything! 🙂 The last band I was in as a full time member and contributing writer was an Atlanta band called SPEECHLESS. Glad you kept up with the drums, and happy to see more females making a presence in the drumming world. In fact 80% of my students are female.

  4. Ann

    Loved your show in Omaha, NE. Wondered if the baby with the handsome young man was yours. Thank you for a memorable evening……….

Leave a Reply