Imagine Dragons’ Wayne Sermon on Night Visions, FIFA and Onstage Mishaps

After years of playing Las Vegas casinos, Sin City’s own Imagine Dragons has had a seemingly meteoric rise thanks to songs like “It’s Time” and “Radioactive,” off their debut album, Night Visions. We talked with guitarist Wayne Sermon about recording Night Visions, how video games have helped their career and onstage mishaps before Imagine Dragons plays Sasquatch! later this evening.

We’re excited for you guys to play Sasquatch! Oh, we are so excited. That’s one we’re really looking forward to.

Have you played Sasquatch! before? No, but we’ve definitely heard of it [laughs]. It looks crazy.

Yeah, the Gorge is fantastic. Location is a big deal when we play outdoors. We’re playing Red Rocks [in Colorado], and that’s another one where the venue is a big element of the show. It’s the same for Sasquatch!

A majority of the band attended Berklee, yet Night Visions sounds very homegrown. How do you balance your training with creating an organic sound? We’ve definitely had a formal education, but we have the mentality that you learn that stuff so you can forget it … It’s all about spontaneity, creativity and breaking the rules in music. [Lead singer Dan Reynolds] didn’t go to college for music; he has great instincts and certainly doesn’t lack creativity. I think there’s no one way to be a musician.

You all recorded with Alex Da Kid, a predominantly hip-hop producer. Did his previous work influence the album’s sound at all? Maybe in the aspect of percussion. He has a way of getting drums to sound huge, and that’s exactly what we wanted. He was a great producer in the fact that there were songs where he was hands off and let us produce them and others where he felt he could add his expertise. It all works together.

Your music has appeared in a few video games. Are you all big gamers? Absolutely. Dan and myself grew up being gamers so being in FIFA and Assassin’s Creed, that’s a big deal to us. Those games have really helped us internationally. Our first time in Europe, we’d ask fans “How did you hear about our music?” A lot of times, it was through a video game.

Tell me about Tyler Robinson and the foundation you all started. We met Tyler at a show. We were immediately impressed by his character and his attitude toward his life. He never let his cancer drain his spirit. His attitude was so amazing that it inspired us. We definitely had a special friendship so when he passed, it was a big blow to us. We felt like we needed to do something with the influence we have so we created a foundation in his name.

What’s it like to look back at how far y’all have come? We always have to be mindful of the many years without success, whether it was playing six-hour sets at a dirty casino, having beer spilled on you, being electrocuted on stage or passing out on stage. Everything that could go wrong did, but it’s what made us who we are. I don’t think we would be as grateful for what we have now if we had instant success. It’s all about being grateful and feeling fortunate at where you are.

Well, here’s to never being electrocuted on stage again! I know, right? Never say never [laughs].

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