Humility is a crucial characteristic that dwindles away from an artist’s repertoire as fame becomes more and more available. Those bands that don’t allow the celebrity to rid themselves of their authentic sound remain high on Shockya charts. With that said, open your arms wide for Imagine Dragons, who are a Las Vegas based band that will never let their soul be tarnished by the glitz and glam of Hollywood.
Perfectly balanced between an electronic sound and an organic sound, Imagine Dragons consists of vocalist, Dan Reynolds, guitarist, Wayne Sermon, bassist, Ben McKee and drummer, Daniel Platzman. With a rock core, the outfit’s music travels in just about every direction, hitting indie pop elements to those that are more electronically based. High on the heels of the release of their EP, “Continued Silence”, and the band’s recent venture to SXSW, Imagine Dragons are ready to saturate the music industry with a sound that is entirely refreshing.
The six track EP, which is comprised of “Radioactive”, “Demons”, “On Top of the World”, “Round and Round”, “It’s Time” and “My Fault”, has an effortless ability to creating “build up” moments, where you get lost within the music and feel a surge of power positively overwhelm you. And that’s exactly what music is about. Music is meant to bring you out of one world and into a fabricated one, where everything feels more than fine. Thank you Imagine Dragons for turning back time and reminding us why music should be forever cherished.
Check out the interview below with guitarist Wayne Sermon, where he discusses all things Imagine Dragons from their SXSW journey to “Continued Silence” to the meaning behind the band’s name.
How did Imagine Dragons first form?
Wayne Sermon: We first formed when I met Dan, the lead singer, through a mutual friend. We kind of just met and came to share a lot of the same musical influences, the same interest, as far as bands that we liked and the direction we wanted to go. We were both interested in making a band and doing music as our career. We were both really serious and passionate about music.
WS: We moved to Vegas to form a band and that’s actually when I called Ben McKee, the bass player. I met him when I went to school back east at Berklee College of Music. I graduated and moved to Vegas, but the funny thing is he actually had one semester left before he could graduate as well. I called him up and said, “Hey we are forming this band. We are going to be starting in Vegas.” He dropped everything with six or eight credits left. We packed up all his stuff and moved across the country to Vegas.
Why did you guys decide to jump start your career in Las Vegas?
WS: Dan is a fourth generation Las Vegas native. He was born and raised there and familiar with the scene. I wasn’t familiar with the scene at all. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a scene in Las Vegas. There is actually an underground and artsy movement going on in Las Vegas right now. There are a lot of really cool bands emerging out of there. I think Las Vegas was good for us.
WS: If you go to a place like Los Angeles or Portland, there are a lot of amazing bands, but it is just so saturated and so many bands climbing for attention that it is kind of hard to get noticed in those bigger cities. So, Las Vegas is kind of nice. While there is this underground music scene, it is not over-saturated. It gave us nice room to grow and develop our own fan base. It actually worked out really well for us.
What’s the story behind the band name, Imagine Dragons?
WS: Imagine Dragons is actually an anagram. Anagram is when you switch out the letters and it forms a different phrase.
So what did it originally start out as?
WS: The phrase is kind of something we all agreed on and for whatever reason, we didn’t want it to be called that phrase. So, we switched it around. And the next question is usually what is it? [Laughs]
I am trying to unscramble it right now and I can’t figure it out.
WS: We actually don’t tell anyone what it is. We don’t tell our families or our manager.
Can you give me a hint? Is it both words mixed together? or each word individually?
WS: Um…. All I can say is that it is a phrase of some kind. It is actually entertaining because we have bands come up to us all of the time, is it this? or is it that? We never tell anyone. Maybe at some point we will reveal it.
Do you guys personally refer to yourselves as Imagine Dragon or by what the original phrase is?
WS: We never speak of it that much. We go by Imagine Dragons for sure.
How was South by Southwest (SXSW) this year? Was it your first year playing there as Imagine Dragons?
WS: We went there as Imagine Dragons two years ago and we were just shooting off the ground a little bit. It was good experience then. We played four or five shows and we were able to see a lot of other bands. The last time we went to SXSW it was a whole different story. We added it all up and we played in 15 shows.
Was there one show in particular that stood out for you guys?
WS: We really liked the Filter Party. We played that. A lot of these shows, you go up and play, when a lot of the people in the audience haven’t heard of you before. So, we had to win over the crowd. By the end of the set, we had everyone’s attention and it was really well received.
Did you get a chance to check out any other bands at SXSW this year?
WS: This time around, we didn’t have any time to do anything like that. But while we were at the Woodies Festival, the next band setting up on the next stage was Fun.. We are all huge fans of Fun.. We got to catch a couple of their songs. They are amazing live.
Have any funny stories from SXSW?
WS: I remember when we went there a couple of years ago, we had two shows back to back and we had to figure out how to get from one show to another. We didn’t have any kind of transportation. We had a drum set, two amps and all of our gear. We ended up actually hauling all of our gear 6 blocks. A few years ago, SXSW was super hot. So, we were all dying [Laughs]. It was pretty harsh. That was a very memorable moment for all of us. We had to get hydrated before we went on.
And you were able to make it through the whole set?
WS: We were able to make it through, but after we crashed.
Moving onto your EP, “Continued Silence, can you tell me the meaning behind the title?
WS: Our second EP that we released on our own was titled, “Hell and Silence”. That had to do a lyric that was in one of the songs. So, it kind of felt right to continue writing and title it, “Continued Silence”. It kind of made sense for all the old fans who remembered that we release that EP a couple of years ago. It was a cool shout out to the rest of our fans.
WS: Also, it was a shout out to our manager. While we were writing the EP, we kind of locked ourselves away and shut off communication with pretty much everyone, including our manager [Laughs]. He is very hands on and wants to know what’s going on. He kept on emailing us, wanting to know the progress of the EP and we weren’t writing him back.
What about the EP’s cover art? I definitely took a liking to it.
WS: We were super happy with it too. That artwork was actually made by some 19 year old kid in England. I don’t know what his name is, off of the top of my head, but I should probably learn. We were floored by that.
It’s difficult to categorize your sound, since there are so many genres within your EP. As a whole, what have been some Imagine Dragons’ musical influences?
WS: I think bands that we all share in common are the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, a lot. The beginning of rock is something all members really agree on. It was a really special time in music. I think at the very core of our band is a rock sound.
Out of the six songs off of the EP, do you have a favorite track?
WS: I think that it would probably have to be “In Time”, which is the single off of the EP. That one is really special to us. We actually have had that song for a couple of years. That one actually started with Dan. He was in his kitchen using his lap top. He was just smacking the table with his hands and stomping his feet. That’s where that beginning beat comes from, doing it on his lap top. We added to it in the studio and made it sound bigger.
WS: As far as the content in the song, I think it really holds meaning to all of us. The core of the song is about adapting and changing the things that need to change in your life and still being true to who you are. That’s a belief that we all have.
Are the rest of the EP’s songs newly written?
WS: “In Time” is the only song that we recorded previously. That’s the only song out of the old ones that made it. The other five songs are ones that we recently wrote.
How do you guys balance out your organic sound with your electronic sound so one doesn’t overpower the other?
WS: We believe that at the core of every song we want to write is good songwriting. If the lyrics, melody and structure of the song is good, it can withstand pretty much anything. If the song sounds like it calls for more of an electronic side, like “Radioactive” or “Demons”, then that’s what we do. Those songs lend themselves to that kind of instrumentation. Whereas “In Time” has the vibe of wanting to be a little more organic. We just do it from song to song.
WS: We are always interested in new songs and new sonic possibilities. We are all “gear heads”. We follow the latest software. We are all really excited about doing something different. I think it will be a sad day when Imagine Dragons settles into one sound and repeats that.