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Imagine Dragons


After the last note played on the last song of a marathon set a few years ago, DanReynolds, frontman for Las Vegas based rockers Imagine Dragons, realized it was allstarting to come together. “We were playing a gig at this place called O’Sheas, whichhas the cheapest beer on the strip,” Reynolds remembers. “I was basically standingon top of the drums, the stage was so small. We were on our final song of a six-hourset. I got to the end of the song and just fully passed out in the middle of singing.I came to, got up, finished the song, and we got a standing ovation from all thesepeople at this tiny little casino at three am on a weekday in Vegas. Something aboutthat moment bonded us and made us realize that we were building a connectionwith people from all over the country.”Since then that connection has only grown. Reynolds and his bandmates – guitaristWayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman – independentlyreleased three EPs, toured extensively, and racked up numerous best-of-Vegasawards. Then, earlier this year, the band made their major label debut with therelease of their Continued Silence EP available on Grammy award winning producerAlex Da Kid’s (Eminem, Rihanna) label, KIDinaKORNER. From the epic slow-burn throb of “Radioactive” to the upbeat percussive intimacy of “On Top of theWorld” to the delicate blend of acoustic guitar and synthetic pop on “Round andRound,” the collection showcases Imagine Dragons’ signature diversity of soundand sentiment. “It’s Time,” the EP’s anthemic, emotionally bare, foot-stomping leadsingle has become Imagine Dragon’s calling card. And it’s the song that sets the tonefor what’s to come as the band prepares to enter the studio this summer to recordtheir full-length debut with Alex Da Kid.“I wrote ‘It’s Time’ during a very transitional period in my life,” Reynolds recalls. “Itseemed like everything was going wrong. I was trying to decide what I wanted to dowith my life, trying to figure out how seriously to take music. I was making decisionsabout who I was. I’m a pretty young guy and I’m still trying to figure out the answerto those questions. But I wrote that song just standing my kitchen stomping my feetand clapping my hands. I wasn’t thinking about writing a great song, I was thinkingabout what was important to me—about wanting to stay true to your roots but alsonot be afraid to go outside your boundaries.”That balance between riding steady and risking it all is the core tension at the heartof Imagine Dragons’ sound and identity, and it’s a reflection of the city they callhome. “Our band wouldn’t exist without Las Vegas,” Reynolds says simply. “It’sa great place for an artist to start out.” Sin City isn’t known as a creative hotbedbut, weirdly, that works to the advantage of the musicians who live there. “It’s notoversaturated,” he explains. “As a new band you play the casinos - half covers, halfyour own stuff – and you make ends meet. We were able to buy a band house andsupport ourselves. Eating ramen, but still.” Eking out a living as a Vegas rockermight be relatively easy, but competition is cutthroat because the city is like bootcamp for performers. Unlike in New York or LA where your biggest concern is beingthe hottest rock act around, in Las Vegas you’ve got to compete with showgirlsand roulette and Cher at the Caesars Palace. “You learn to stand out becauseyou’re competing for the attention of people sitting at slot machines,” Reynoldsexplains. “You have to bring everything you have and learn what grabs people’sattention enough that they look up from the card table and say, hey, let’s check thisout!”For Imagine Dragons that means a blend of hip-hop influenced backbeats layeredunder thrillingly direct guitar, bass, and drums. “We like making raw natural noisesand keeping them raw and natural but transforming them into synthetic noises,”Sermon says. “We are gearheads. We do a lot of experimenting with percussionthat’s electric and acoustic on top of each other.” Every band member exceptReynolds attended Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, and the technicalskill and precision that comes with that education has impacted Imagine Dragons’sound and process. “I’m a musician that goes by ear. And when you put those twotypes of people in a room together that’s when the magic happens,” say Reynolds.In a world where any teenager with a webcam can become a rock star then a has-been all in the space of a few months, Imagine Dragons are a refreshing return tothe tried-and-true traditions of great rock and roll. They’ve learned how to be aband the old fashioned way, by writing great songs and playing them live to anincreasingly large audience. But their secret weapon is the one element we’vetruly lost in this exhibitionistic post-internet music culture: mystery. “The nameof the band is an anagram,” Wayne says. “We had this phrase but it was somethingwe didn’t really want to call the band so we agreed to switch the letters aroundand came up with Imagine Dragons. We haven’t even told our own mothers whatthe phrase was. As an artist you put so much of yourself out there it’s fun to havesomething you keep to yourself.”

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