“It’s the one thing, as artists, that we get to keep to ourselves,” Imagine Dragons’ front man Dan Reynolds said when asked the meaning of the band’s name. Yep, with apologies to fan boys all over the world and quite possibly Middle Earth, the buzzworthy Las Vegas alt-rock group didn’t name themselves over an undying love of Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons, or anything medieval or fantasy filled.
“We were sitting down and came up with a phrase that we felt particularly connected to, but we didn’t want to call it that. It just didn’t flow right,” Reynolds explained in an April 25 interview.
“We ended up rearranging the letters and did an anagram. We haven’t told anyone except our manager and our spouses. It’s funny how people will try to guess what it means… a lot of people think it’s a drug reference.”
Reynolds said everything from “Aged Mens’ Radio” to “Gemini is So Grand” have been suggested by fans, but they’ll keep everyone guessing for now. Whatever their name means is sort of irrelevant considering it’s the music everyone has been paying attention to lately. The band, which consists of Reynolds on vocals, guitarist D. Wayne Sermon, drummer Daniel “Z” Platzman and bassist Ben McKee, have been enjoying success with their current single “It’s Time” off of their new EP Continued Silence. The track has been played repeatedly on many alternative rock stations (the EP is in the top ten of Soundscan’s Alternative New Artist Albums chart), and MTV just named the song’s video its PUSH artist of the week a few weeks back.
I caught up with Reynolds and asked him about the band, their current tour (they’re on the road with The Jezabels* tour dates below), and how “It’s Time” manages to stay cool even when played ad nauseum on my favorite alt-rock station.
“It’s Time” is really being a lot on the radio — at least on the station I’m listening to. It has the wonderful ability of not getting under my skin even though I’ve heard it a bunch of times. So, first off, congrats on that. Second, what was the songwriting process behind that amazing track?
[Laughs] Well, thanks! There’s so many times you wake up at 3 a.m., grab a recorder on the iPhone and say something — a lyrical idea or melody — and then you lay it out in logic later on and sometimes it makes no sense. We sat with “It’s Time” for a year or year-and-a-half. Sometimes you just have to let a song sit for awhile. There’s just something really special about it. I wrote it during a very hard time in my life. I had dropped out of college, and I was just sitting down at my computer, and I came up with this rhythm. And the words just wrote themselves. I knew I had something special coming.
When a song is most honest and most raw that’s when you know you’re doing something right. A lot of my favorite artists are able to be in touch with their problems and put it through melodies. It happens all the time with bands.
“It’s Time” is on your latest EP. I’m finding more and more bands prefer to release an EP or a couple EPs throughout a year or two rather than releasing a full-length album. Why do you think that is? Is it because an EP is more immediate?
Honestly, I’m so afraid of doing the first album. You only do a first album once and you have to live with it forever. So many bands I listen to have first albums that are my favorites. I really wanted to make sure I felt our band had really developed and understood who we are before releasing a first album.
Some bands do it overnight, and we’ve been a band for three years. It took three or four EPS to determine who we are. We’ve seen growth, and are excited to have an album out in the fall. We’ll go into the studio at The Palms in Vegas in June.
It’ll be nice to get in the studio I’m sure. You’ve been on the road for a while. I take it’s gone well?
It’s been incredible. We’ve been on the road two months now, and we’ve play places we never played before and we’ve been selling out. There’s no place where we feel more at home than on the road. We’ve been on the road for three years, and people are coming out and connecting with our music. There’s really an incredible energy in the bus.
Lastly, getting back to “It’s Time.” It really feels like a breakthrough for you guys. Do you get that sense? I know MTV just gave you props for the song’s music video.
I always would dream of making music videos. Whenever I make music, I always have a visual in my mind. I always see things. My favorites are the more conceptual videos — the ones that got you thinking how it related to the song. There’s something about puzzles I love. When we were making the video for “It’s Time” I wanted to make it a little more abstract. It’s a song that people can interpret in so many ways. I hate it when artists say what it exactly means. It really compartmentalizes it. I always like to leave art and music open to interpretation.
Like your band name!
[Laughs] We were very happy that we were able to own the name “Imagine Dragons” on Google very quickly. When you think of bands like Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins the name matters less. The name ends up being defined by the music at the end of the day.
“It’s Time” Music Video:
May 1 Salt Lake City, UT In The Venue
May 3 Seattle, WA Crocodile Café
May 4 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
May 7 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
May 8 San Francisco, CA The Independent
May 9 Santa Barbara, CA Velvet Jones
May 11 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour
May 19 Bakersfield, CA Venue Bright House Networks Amphitheater
May 25 Auburn, WA Venue Green River Community
July 21 Dover, DE Firefly Festival