It may be their first full-length and a debut full of crushing rock anthems, but it took three years, a handful of EPs and sweating it out on the road to make the Vegas band find what they were looking for – their zen sound.
Embedded with hip-hop, rock and electronic renderings, Night Visions is a 11-track record produced by the Grammy Award-winning Alex Da Kid (Rihanna, U2, Eminem), and entered the Billboard Top 200 Chart at #2 receiving the best first week sales (83,213) for a full-length debut by a new rock band in over six years.
“We took an album very seriously you know because we all grew up listening to albums and we want to be an album band. We want people to be able to pop in our album and listen to track 1 to track 11 and have it be an experience rather than ‘oh this one is a single, oh all these other ones are just fillers’…we didn’t want to go down that path,” explains guitarist Wayne Sermon.
“I think it’s really important for a band to not prematurely release an album before you know who you are and what the vision is and what the message is, what your sound is and if it’s worth saying you know, before you spend all that money and time. Artists should take their art seriously and for some people they find that in the first month, for us we found it in three years,” says front man Dan Reynolds.
The album includes sly transitional grooves and emotional peaks with songs like “Demons”, “Amsterdam” and “Hear Me” best listened to loud. The final pile of tracks were streamlined through stacks of maybes; the process of elimination was one of strong concern for the band.
“At the end of the day we had recorded twenty studio quality songs to be on that album and we had hundreds of demos to get it down to those 20. We were all about listening to albums all the way through, never skipping a track, we like that rather than putting a bunch of songs on a album..we wanted listeners to come out at the end of it and say OK I understand who they are and what they’re trying to say,” explains Dan.
Their single “It’s Time” (yes Glee fans you’ve heard this track on your beloved show) has sold upwards of 500,000 copies and “On Top of the World” is the theme song for the new show Partners and featured in the FIFA 2013 game. The video for “It’s Time” also garnered a 2012 MTV VMA nomination in the ‘Best Rock’ category.
The quartet may take it all seriously, but they’re realistic that music production is not necessarily 100% original.
Wayne: I think for those bands as much as they like to think they’re creating music in a vacuum they’re not, nobody does. So ya, they are definitely soaking up something.
Dan: [in mocking voice] I was born in this room just like by myself and I don’t even know what music is.
Wayne: But hey I got synthesizers and guitars and look, nobody has ever done this..right…sure.
Dan: Our goal has always been to fuse raw rock n’ roll, like the energy of the live show with the guitars and drums and bring that with synthetic elements and beat – bringing those two worlds together.
While many bands are looking to blow up within the U.S. (at least at the beginning), Imagine Dragons seek further border crossings to stain their sonic rock imprint in.
“I do think one of our biggest goals as a band is to branch out of the U.S., we’re going on a European tour, we played Bergenfest last year in Norway and that was one of our favourite festivals – we were only supposed to do two shows and they did well so they booked us for four, for the week. I think there is place for Imagine Dragons in other places outside of the U.S. and that’s why we’re here in Canada, and why we’re going to Europe. Whether people are going to like it or not – I dunno – but we hope so,” explains Dan.
“We create albums so that people have something to listen to between shows. I mean we are a live a band and we love performing. We love playing and that’s always been our bread and butter, that’s where we feel like we can really win fans over, if they come and watch us. We’ll be playing live as long as we can walk,” adds Warren.
The band recently met up with Third Eye Blind, which proved to be one of those “holy shit” moments for Dan ‘superfan’ Reynolds.
“Oh my god. That was so crazy. One of my complete icons and favourite bands growing up was Third Eye Blind. Steven just came up to me after our set and said he doesn’t like live music and watching live music, but he was very inspired by the band and invited me to come up and sing “Jumper” on stage and I of course told him I was a huge, huge fan and was definitely nervous to get on stage with him.”
“I was like asking him ok so when should I come on stage, what should I do, and he’s like, ‘dude, let’s just rock n’ roll you didn’t look nervous on stage’.
“I said I’m not nervous when I’m on stage performing, but I am nervous going on stage and singing with my rock icon and singing a song that was the first song I learned on guitar. He was a hilarious dude, very straightforward. And it was surreal when I went up, we sang together, hung out afterwards. He invited us to his studio in San Fran and is going to come out to our show there”.
Night Visions follows their fourth EP Continued Silence and stylistically has a dexterity that fondles a Temper Trap meets Two Door Cinema Club meets 90’s grind, with the closing nine minute “There’s Nothing Left To Say / Rocks” roping the riff-to-drum tempo of decades past.
There’s a reason why mostly all their North American shows have sold out.
Imagine Dragons play Vancouver’s Venue on October 6th.