Interview: Imagine Dragons
- You can adopt us and that's fine! The Norwegian band Imagine Dragons!
Back then it was July, summer and hot, and the boys weren't completely comfortable with the change of seasons:
- I'm actually not getting used to it, Wayne states turning to Dan; - Do you get used to it?
- Nope! Dan agrees laughing, - I'll never get used to the cold. I'm so used to the warmth of Vegas.
Wayne still doesn't feel that the cold is the worst part, but the darkness – which he feels is depressing. He wonders how Norwegians make it through the winter, and when Musikknyheter tells him about light therapy lamps which help a lot of Nordics, he tells us that he has one himself!
Since we last met the boys at the Slottsfjell festival, Imagine Dragons has toured the world, and visited Japan, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, as well as festivals and a headline tour of the US. Relaxing seems to be a word not represented in their vocabularies:
- You should tell that to our manager! Dan grins: - Nah, we pick everything that we do, so you should really tell it to US. Over and over! We're doing it to ourselves. But we love it, we love this opportunity, we'd feel like we didn't seize it. There's a million other artists who would die for this chance so we're gonna die trying
Die touring. The rock'n roll way?
- Die on an a jetplane going somewhere, Dan nods, and Wayne remembers: - There's a really famous guitar player – a classical guitar player – he gigged until he was 95 and actually died on the road when he was 95. Toured his entire life. That's the mold we're gonna follow. We have a few more years to go!
Because of their extensive touring, a couple of the guys haven't even got a home to go back to. Wayne has put all his stuff in storage, and they both agree that they'll be feeling pretty restless when they have to go home at last. Both being from Vegas, it's still a pulsating city they're coming home to, and the city that never sleeps seems pretty exotic to us Nordics. It wouldn't surprise us if the rest f the world seemed a little bland in comparison for someone growing up among all the lights, but Wayne assures us it's the opposite:
- It's the exact opposite actually. To us the lights are normal and growing up in the mountains of Norway is the most exotic thing you can do. - Beautiful and exotic, Dan agrees, and Wayne nods: - When we went to Bergen, we took that tram that starts in the center of the city up to the top of the city so you can see everything, and there's a forest area there too so we walked in the forest and it was amazing. Just to be able to smell that forest and the trees... He has to smile a little bit: - I know it sounds weird but, we haven't done that in years so that was a very healing thing for us.
- It's all perspective, Dan says; - We grew up with that perspective being the norm. The lights, the sun, that the city's always awake and moving. Everything's open at all times. It takes some getting used to not being able to go to a restaurant at 1 am. We're like «WHY ARE YOU CLOSED??» Wayne agrees: - Wayne er enig: - Yeah! We even recorded our album in a casino. Very normal! To us!
The energy of the city is influencing the music, and Wayne is convinced it's evident when listening to the album. It has moments of being almost over the top, it's larger than life, and has tons of huge drums:
- Dan was a drummer before he was a singer, so I think drums came to him nturally that way. I think also - just growing up as a band in vegas with lots of noise and stuff - there's a lot of other things going on besides a cover band playing... or at least someone being conceived as a cover band playing. So in order to get their attention we found that drums were a pretty simple way, pretty universally awesome. They were there from the beginning, they've just gotten bigger.
Imagine Dragons' lyrics are, despite their grand sound, deeply personal, and Dan has used songwriting as a form of therapy as long as he can remember. Still, he doesn't find it difficult singing them to an audience night after night:
- Strangely it's not. The most comfortble I've ever felt was on stage. I get much more anxiety off stage
Coming down from concert adrenalin on the other hand, isn't quite as simple:
- It's hard! Dan admits; - We don't ever fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning because the adrenalin is always through the roof. Wayne agrees: - Usually we just come off stage and just kinda collapse on the couch for like 20 minutes... he smiles at the sight of Dan who shows how he'll be lying on the couch trembling of adrenaline. - When we figure out how to stop that... it'll be a sad day, Dan smiles: We'll fall asleep in the middle of the set!
Having visited Norway several times, (this was their 5th time here according to Dan), the boys have collected a few good tour stories from their time on our shores. One of the best ones involves bassist Ben McKee:
- That was awesome! Wayne laughs: - That was our first really good rock'n roll story! When we were in Norway the first time, before we were anybody - even in America nobody knew who we were, but Bergen somehow knew and they invited us to come play this festival (Bergenfest) I think we were so excited that... I think Ben was especially excited and he partied too hard, and ended up drinking about 8 shots of aquavit on an empty stomach. It's like for christmas right? After a lot of fat? But he didn't know that, he was like "that's delicious" so he had like 8 on an empty stomach. We were at a show in a basement listening to other bands while at Bergenfest – some metalband or something. We look back and we see Ben with two Norwegian women, and when we look back again he's gone and so are the women. And from there it's a big blur, but he woke up at 4 in the morning in his hotel room with his pillow soaked in blood... Wayne looks over on Dan: - You were sharing a room with him I think – and he kind of just woke up in a frantic..
- His whole head was just mad into his face with blood, Dan nods. Wayne continues: - and he knocked on my door at four in the morning, I opened the door and he started dancing on my leg!
- We were like: «Ben, what are you doing!?? » Dan laughs.
- He was still drunk I think, Wayne suggests, and Dan nods: - He was.
- He doesn't remember that either, Wayne smiles; - So there's a fire hour chunk that he still doesn't know about, no one knows what happened, and he had a slurpie cup, ripped, and it was written on it “Ken. Call me” and a phone number.
- He never called, Dan smirks.
You should have called the number and figured out who it was!
- I KNOW!! Wayne laughs; - He might still have that slurpy cup somewhere, I don't know where it is. I'll call it for him! We need to know if Ken was a good kisser!
Drummer Daniel Platzman on the other hand, was temporarily fired from the band in France a couple of weeks ago, having lost a game of arm wrestling against a radio DJ:
- YES! Dan laughs!
- That actually happened! Wayne grins; - And he was out of the band for a good 10 minutes! He was no longer in the band. Dan tells us: - This guy just replaced him. It seemed cool at the time. Just seemed like the right choice! They had an arm wrestling competition and if you win in an arm wrestling competition, you're just more of a man, and we're not gonna have any sissies in this band! I think that's why he's kept his moustage, just to say hey guys I'm a man. Look! Dan laughs and Wayne explains: - That moustage is for our music video [On Top Of The World] and we liked it so much we just told him to keep it. Ben has one too!
Imagine Dragons has become one of the most covered and remixed bands in history, and Dan sees this as a big compliment:
- It's definitely one of the greatest compliments you can get as a band, someone else interpreting them in their own way. We're not like «dude this sucks you should have never..» Wayne interrupts: - In fact I heard this really cool heavy metal one.. Dan nods: - Yeah, a heavy metal cover of Radioactive where they screamed out “Radioactiiiiiive”. When we get everything from that to 15 year old girls on their acoustic guitars, then it's pretty cool!
Aso the band's biggest hit, Radioactive, has become one of the biggest mashup-songs of our time; people mix it up with other songs, even Norway's own 'What Does The Fox Say'. The boys see this as compliment as well, and laugh when they hear that Radioactive has been mixed with Ylvis' big hit:
- That's hilarious, Dan laughs, while Wayne wonders:- Is that Norwegian? The fox song? How do you feel about that?
Musikknyheter hesitates a little before answering the question, the song is both loved and hated in Norway, and most people probably didn't imagine THAT being the kind of song that would put us on the international pop- map.
- We feel you on that, Wayne says; - It's catchy though! You can adopt us and that's fine! He snaps his fingers; -There, we're adopted! The Norwegian band Imagine Dragons!
Just how ok the boys find cover versions of their songs, was proved when they – during a visit to Florida, suddenly heard someone in a church next to the venue play their songs in a more or less broken fashion:
- They were doing Demons and Radioactive, Wayne says; - We heard it played through the wall and we were like: “what's going on??” It sounded like our songs but it wasn't, and didn't sound like us, so we knocked on the door and there was this band playing our music. Was kind of cool, so we decided to teach them how to play them properly.
- We showed them the mistakes they were making, Dan says smugly, and grins when he hears the dry reply from Wayne: - Yeah, which they appreciated, I'm sure!
(Published november '13)
"If there's so little of yourself in a song that you can't remember when you wrote it and where, something has gone wrong"
The band will play the album in full and screen the accompanying film at their Oslo gig, We spoke to Brett Anderson and Mat Osman about the concept behind it all. >>
And it turned into an interesting conversation about today's music industry and surviving as a musician. >>
- Some feel that we've gone too mainstream, while others feel we've become too experimental >>