CincyMusic Podcasts
Buy the Cincinnati Support Local Music Tee

Imagine Dragons

Submit Correction Claim Band

After the last note played on the last song of a marathon set a few years ago, Dan
Reynolds, frontman for Las Vegas based rockers Imagine Dragons, realized it was all
starting to come together. “We were playing a gig at this place called O’Sheas, which
has the cheapest beer on the strip,” Reynolds remembers. “I was basically standing
on top of the drums, the stage was so small. We were on our final song of a six-hour
set. 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 these
people at this tiny little casino at three am on a weekday in Vegas. Something about
that moment bonded us and made us realize that we were building a connection
with people from all over the country.”

Since then that connection has only grown. Reynolds and his bandmates – guitarist
Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman – independently
released three EPs, toured extensively, and racked up numerous best-of-Vegas
awards. Then, earlier this year, the band made their major label debut with the
release of their Continued Silence EP available on Grammy award winning producer
Alex Da Kid’s (Eminem, Rihanna) label, KIDinaKORNER. From the epic slow-
burn throb of “Radioactive” to the upbeat percussive intimacy of “On Top of the
World” to the delicate blend of acoustic guitar and synthetic pop on “Round and
Round,” the collection showcases Imagine Dragons’ signature diversity of sound
and sentiment. “It’s Time,” the EP’s anthemic, emotionally bare, foot-stomping lead
single has become Imagine Dragon’s calling card. And it’s the song that sets the tone
for what’s to come as the band prepares to enter the studio this summer to record
their full-length debut with Alex Da Kid.

“I wrote ‘It’s Time’ during a very transitional period in my life,” Reynolds recalls. “It
seemed like everything was going wrong. I was trying to decide what I wanted to do
with my life, trying to figure out how seriously to take music. I was making decisions
about who I was. I’m a pretty young guy and I’m still trying to figure out the answer
to those questions. But I wrote that song just standing my kitchen stomping my feet
and clapping my hands. I wasn’t thinking about writing a great song, I was thinking
about what was important to me—about wanting to stay true to your roots but also
not be afraid to go outside your boundaries.”

That balance between riding steady and risking it all is the core tension at the heart
of Imagine Dragons’ sound and identity, and it’s a reflection of the city they call
home. “Our band wouldn’t exist without Las Vegas,” Reynolds says simply. “It’s
a great place for an artist to start out.” Sin City isn’t known as a creative hotbed
but, weirdly, that works to the advantage of the musicians who live there. “It’s not
oversaturated,” he explains. “As a new band you play the casinos - half covers, half
your own stuff – and you make ends meet. We were able to buy a band house and
support ourselves. Eating ramen, but still.” Eking out a living as a Vegas rocker
might be relatively easy, but competition is cutthroat because the city is like boot
camp for performers. Unlike in New York or LA where your biggest concern is being
the hottest rock act around, in Las Vegas you’ve got to compete with showgirls

and roulette and Cher at the Caesars Palace. “You learn to stand out because
you’re competing for the attention of people sitting at slot machines,” Reynolds
explains. “You have to bring everything you have and learn what grabs people’s
attention enough that they look up from the card table and say, hey, let’s check this

For Imagine Dragons that means a blend of hip-hop influenced backbeats layered
under thrillingly direct guitar, bass, and drums. “We like making raw natural noises
and keeping them raw and natural but transforming them into synthetic noises,”
Sermon says. “We are gearheads. We do a lot of experimenting with percussion
that’s electric and acoustic on top of each other.” Every band member except
Reynolds attended Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, and the technical
skill 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 two
types 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 to
the tried-and-true traditions of great rock and roll. They’ve learned how to be a
band the old fashioned way, by writing great songs and playing them live to an
increasingly large audience. But their secret weapon is the one element we’ve
truly lost in this exhibitionistic post-internet music culture: mystery. “The name
of the band is an anagram,” Wayne says. “We had this phrase but it was something
we didn’t really want to call the band so we agreed to switch the letters around
and came up with Imagine Dragons. We haven’t even told our own mothers what
the phrase was. As an artist you put so much of yourself out there it’s fun to have
something you keep to yourself.”

This band isn't local to Cincinnati, as far as we know. If this isn't right, maybe you want to claim this band or submit a correction?

Attending Maybe Not Attending View on Facebook