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Imagine Dragons find their ‘time’
From humble nest beginnings playing cover songs at local casinos to a nomination at the MTV Video Music Awards, Las Vegas-based indie-rock quartet Imagine Dragons may seem like an overnight success. But after three years of hashing
out their sound, that is not the case.
Blending synth-based pop production with British-alternative inspirations and emotional lyrics, Imagine Dragons, composed of frontman Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman, have proved their formula successful by placing near the top of multiple radio format charts.
After releasing four EPs, the group signed with Interscope Records, a subsidiary of major record company Universal Music Group.
The group’s latest single, “It’s Time,” was featured on the season premiere of “Glee,” in the trailer for the highly anticipated “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and at the Apple iPhone 5 launch event on Sept. 12. The song’s music video was nominated for a VMA on Sept. 6., and their latest album, “Night Visions,” has already reached No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
The Chronicle sat down with Sermon to discuss the group’s journey to fame, inspirations and the concept of “selling out.”
The Chronicle: What has it been like adjusting to fame so rapidly?
Wayne Sermon: It’s surreal, but to us it feels natural. We’ve been a band for three years and started out playing a lot of casino gigs in Las Vegas. To make ends meet we would play covers. Since then we’ve been building on that. We wanted it to be as organic as it could possibly be. It feels good to have all that work pay off. We feel very fortunate and lucky because in this industry there’s always a little luck involved.
A lot of artists, especially in the alternative genre, can get a negative reputation once they’ve hit it big. Are you percieved by your fans as selling out?
We haven’t gotten a lot of that yet, or at least I haven’t been aware of it. I don’t read online stuff that much—it’s probably a subconscious way to protect my ego. But from what I can tell, it seems like people are, for the most part, happy about the way things are going for us.
What are your inspirations?
The new album is called “Night Visions,” and that title kind of represents where these songs came from. I struggle with insomnia, and I have since I was 12. And Dan struggles from anxiety and spends a lot of late nights [awake], and that’s when a lot of these songs get written—late in the night. A lot of the guitar riffs I came up with were at 4 a.m. when no one else was awake, when I felt isolated, like [when] I was the most alone and I could actually create.
What does your songwriting process consist of?
It usually starts with either me or Dan. We’re both into gear, recording and producing ourselves. From that, we bring the demo to the band and they hash it out and make it from a demo that I do into an Imagine Dragons song. They’re very different things. Something that Dan or I produce goes through a metamorphosis when it gets to a full band. When we can all own parts of the song, that’s when it really takes on the Imagine Dragons sound.
How did it feel playing Riot Fest?
It’s been interesting. There are a lot of characters here. I don’t think there’s a festival like it. We’re not really sure how we fit in with some of the other bands, but I think it works. People showed up and they seemed to enjoy the show, and I think that’s all what really matters.
What’s next for Imagine Dragons?
We’re on tour now with Awolnation, and that’s going really well. And after that it looks like we’re going to Europe. After that, who knows? Maybe we’ll get a break and maybe we won’t. It’s a good thing, not having a break. The label is pushing us, and we are
Visit ImagineDragonsMusic.com for music and touring date info.