Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds has been enjoying rock stardom from a relevantly sane place.
Despite recently winning a Grammy, reaching double platinum status with their debut album and having three international hits, some people still wonder who — or what — the band is.
“People are still saying, ‘Who are Imagine Dragons? Like, why do I keep hearing this name?’” Reynolds said. “I think it is a pretty strange thing to live in this day and age where we’re selling all these records and it’s all going well, and we have still kept some anonymity. I think, in our case, it’s something we kind of cherish.”
Reynolds and his bandmates may not be able to blend in for too long. Imagine Dragons set a record last week on the Billboard Hot 100 with the anthem-like rock jam Radioactive, which has spent 77 weeks on the chart, beating Jason Mraz’s 76-week run in 2009 with I’m Yours.
Reynolds, 26, talked recently about the band’s hits, new music, arena tour and why there might not be a fourth single following the hit Demons, It’s Time and Radioactive, which won the best rock performance Grammy and has sold 6.6 million tracks.
AP: The past year has been insane for the band, so how do you feel when people say they don’t know who the band is?
Reynolds: That’s something that comes with time. We’ve had some opportunities to have some major exposure visually and to kind of get our personalities out there more that we turned down just because I feel like the way that I would want people to find out who we are is organically… and through their own interest and their own curiosity, rather than seeing some commercial or movie. I remember growing up listening to U2 and I didn’t even know what Bono looked like. I didn’t even know his name. It got to a point where I was invested so much that I wanted to know who Bono was — not to say that I would compare us to U2 because that’s one of my favourite bands of all-time and it feels, like, sacrilegious.
AP: How does it feel to set this Billboard record?
Reynolds: I don’t really know how to comprehend it, I think. I feel like this last year has been full of events that I don’t know if I’ll fully understand till years down the road. I think right now I’m a little overwhelmed by it all.
AP: Radioactive has had a slow climb on the charts, versus other contemporary hits that debut high and fall shortly after.
Reynolds: That’s been the most important part of the band from the beginning. With our radio team, we were never like: “This is the single! Push this to road!” It literally just started off on its own. We never wanted to skip steps. We always wanted to grow slowly and take our time with things.
AP: Will the band release a fourth single from Night Visions?
Reynolds: I don’t think so. At this point, we’re trying to pull back from the reins and say: “OK, we don’t want to overkill the record on people’s ears and force it upon people to some extent.” I feel like it’s been on the radio so much that it’s almost been overwhelming to us.
AP: Have you been recording new music?
Reynolds: We’ve really been recording on the road… When we get home from tour, we’ll comb through those demos and pick out the best ones and bring them to a live band setting… Right now, I have a good 40 or 50 demos that I’ve been writing over the last two years.
AP: Will the album come out this year?
Reynolds: We want to take a little time off. Sometimes you can put out an album that’s maybe not as good as it could have been because you rushed it.
AP: The band has toured a lot in the last year. How’s the arena tour different?
Reynolds: You come and you understand what Imagine Dragons is about, and what the vision is about, and what the feeling is and what the visual is, instead of just us coming and playing our 10 songs like they sound on our CD. I feel like my favourite bands growing up, I went to their concerts and walked away feeling like I was part of that band and that experience.
AP: Your wife is the lead singer of the band Nico Vega. Has your 18-month-old daughter caught the music bug?
Reynolds: She’s definitely singing some Ariel, you know, some Little Mermaid here and there. She’ll probably get interested in music. I don’t know if I’m going to let her get into that industry, but maybe at the end of the day she’ll just do it anyway. My mum didn’t want me to do it and I did it.