Imagine Dragons Dish on VMA Nod, Their Debut Album ‘Night Visions,’ and ‘Glee’ (EXCLUSIVE)
The song is currently working its way up the charts, thanks to its prominent placement in the Perks of Being a Wallflower trailer and in the latest NBC promo. However, it’s Glee that might shoot the track to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100, à la Fun.‘s No. 1 single, “We Are Young.”
In the Season 4 premiere of the hit Fox musical comedy, fan-favorite Darren Criss will cover Imagine Dragon’s single, so it’s probably a good idea to get to know this talented foursome — Dan Reynolds, D. Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee and Daniel Platzman — before they become chart-topping superstars.
Imagine Dragons’ debut album ‘Night Visions’ dropped this week, and Celebuzz chatted with guitarist D. Wayne Sermon on everything from ‘Glee’ and “Call Me Maybe” to his hilarious reaction to the band’s first MTV VMA nomination.
Four years ago you guys were competing in your university’s battle of the bands, and now you’re nominated for your first MTV VMA. How does it feel?
It’s been pretty crazy! We started out playing casino gigs in Vegas, NV, and whoever would let us play — even if it was for one or two people in a tiki lounge. To finally be able to play for larger crowds and to be nominated for a VMA is pretty crazy. I still can’t believe it.
How did you react when you found out that you were nominated?
I got the call from Dan [Reynolds] that we were nominated for a VMA, and it was really early in the morning. Well, it was seven o’clock in the morning, which is pretty early for musicians. And I was like, “What’s a VMA?” I was really groggy and sort of out-of-it, and I had no idea what he was talking about. I was like, “Venezuelan Mineral Association?” I honestly didn’t think he was referring to the VMAs. I was pretty blown away by it, and none of us expected it.
The video got a lot of support from MTV when it was first released. What is it about that video that you think resonates with people?
We’ve always been fans of videos that mean something to the viewer. We don’t like to be too blatant or too obvious with what we wanted our fans to get from the video. The video [for "It's Time] is a journey. It’s post-apocalyptic. I think it matched the song. The song was written during a time of transition for our band. We were uncertain whether we wanted to keep on being a band or whether we wanted to try other things. So we wanted to capture that change and transition. At the end of the video, you sense that something big has just happened and now it’s on to something different.
“It’s Time” also took over a year to complete. Why did you guys have such a hard time finishing the track?
Yeah, that song was initially written late at night — like most of our songs — and Dan was just sitting at his kitchen table when he started stomping and clapping on the table. So that’s how the song was born. But for me, and for everyone in the band, we had to decide if we wanted to keep going. “Do we keep on playing for 10 people?” “How long can we go about doing this?” I was thinking about going back to school. But that song was us saying, “We’re a band, and we’re going to keep doing this. It’s something we need to do.”
What was your big break? What took you from that period of uncertainty to having one of the most talked-about songs on the charts?
I wish I knew! We knew that the chances of us being an overnight success were pretty slim. That happens to some bands, and that’s great, but it happened organically for us. There were some things that certainly helped, like standing in for Train at a music festival in Las Vegas. The lead singer of Train had a horrible flu, and he had to cancel. We were called last minute, because we were local, to play their headlining slot. That was pretty amazing.
Have you seen Pat Monhan, Train’s singer, since and thanked him for getting sick?
You know what? We never did get a chance to meet him. Thankfully, he made a full recovery.
Maybe you can thank him at the VMAs?
That would be amazing! We’re definitely going to be doing some star-gazing there.
Who are you excited to see?
Honestly? Every band that is nominated in our category. They might not even know that we exist, but Jack White and his guitar playing was always a big influence on my growing up. Obviously, Coldplay is a household name, and Linkin Park is awesome, as are the Black Keys. Each one of those bands are so iconic, and they’re so real. We’re so excited to be nominated alongside them. We know that it’s a bit of a David and Goliath situation, but we’re just happy to be there.
Your song will also be featured in the Season 4 premiere of Glee. Have you heard the final track yet?
Do you know what? We haven’t heard it yet. From our prospective, it’s cool that the music is going to get out there, and it’s going to reach an entirely new demographic of people who otherwise probably wouldn’t have heard of our music. Of course, there are bands like Gotye and Fun., who have found success after being covered on Glee, so it’s a pretty cool thing for us.
So you’re obviously going to tune in on Sept. 13 to watch the episode, right?
I guess so! We’ll be somewhere on the East Coast by then, but we’ll probably tune in from a hotel room and watch as a band.
Tell us a little bit about your debut album, Night Visions. You guys have been working on it for quite a while.
We’re more proud of this album than anything we’ve ever done. We took the process very seriously. We all grew up to listening to vinyl and full albums. So in a time where “songs of the day” are dominating music, we are a band that is all about the full album. We want people to listen to the album all the way through because all of the songs weave into one another in a really creative way. So many bands are defined by that first album, so we had to make sure that it was everything we wanted it to be. At our core, we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band.
Now, the name Imagine Dragons is an anagram for something that means a lot to you guys as a band. So much so that you won’t reveal what it stands for, but your fans have tried to guess. What’s the funniest suggestion that you’ve heard?
From the very beginning, we’ve had a fan in Vegas. He name is Angie, and she found an anagram that worked with our name, and it was “Angie Digs Roman.” So she had shirts made that said “Angie Digs Roman.” I thought that was pretty awesome.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
The new Passion Pit record is pretty awesome. “I’ll Be Alright” is definitely my favorite track off that. Mike Snow‘s latest album is great. Led Zeppelin is a classic. I’ve been listening to a lot of Portugal. The Man. “Dance Yourself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem is a song we really enjoy as a band.
Any embarrassing Top 40 songs?
Oh, I’m just so indie and cool and hip that I just don’t [laughs]. I’m just kidding. Does “Call Me Maybe” count? That’s what ran through my head when I thought of Top 40 guilty pleasures.
Night Visions is currently available on iTunes.
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Watch the VMA-nominated video for “It’s Time” below.