By Jennifer Lynn
“We’ve heard legendary things about UK festivals and how they can get a little rowdy,” says Wayne Sermon, guitarist with American indie rock ‘n’ rollers of the moment, Imagine Dragons. “I had better watch my head!”
Having only just met, I feel it might be rude to ask Wayne if he’s referring to the bottles and cups of piss that so often go flying through the air at our festivals, so I decide to assume that’s probably the case. It’s nice to know that doesn’t put him off though.
“The people in the UK seem like genuine fans of our music and to come to a place like this, and have people singing the lyrics of songs that haven’t even been released yet, is mindboggling,” says Wayne. “We’ve always thought of our music as being appealing to international crowds, so it’s very validating that it is being accepted and even enjoyed.”
“We certainly had a good time in Glasgow, I’m not gonna lie. I intimately remember the drive from the South upwards; you just don’t see anything like that in America, all of the rolling hills and the cottages, the sheep roaming around. It’s cliché and cheesy, but I still loved it.”
Perhaps also cliché is the easy comparison us journalists can make between Imagine Dragons and fellow four-piece Nevada band, The Killers. With genuine similarities in their sounds, although there are plenty of differences too, it has always seemed like a fair enough point to mention.
“We’re not bothered in the least by it,” says Wayne. “We have a lot of respect for The Killers and they were certainly torch bearers for the music scene in Las Vegas. We don’t know them well; I’ve met a couple of them on occasion and they seem like genuinely nice guys, and an extremely talented band, so we take it only as a compliment. I’m not sure you would see so many similarities if you were to listen to the two albums back-to-back, but as far as them being torchbearers for the scene in Vegas, we definitely owe a lot to them.”
It’s a combination of this nice guy attitude, and the band’s truly anthemic tunes, that has seen Imagine Dragons debut album Night Visions climb to number two in the UK charts, while singles Radioactive, It’s Time and Hear Me have all charted within the top forty. But how would Wayne sell the band to anyone who hasn’t heard any of their tracks before?
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“Good question,” he says. “I think the album itself definitely runs the range of the human experience. There are songs on there that speak to a darker place, like Demons and Bleeding Out, that communicate that sense of hopelessness or times when there are things you want to change and to improve on. Then again there are songs of hope and change, like It’s Time and On Top Of The World, that are triumphant in a way. As far as the mood of the album I think people can find a little bit of everything.
“More specifically we’re a rock band that likes to mix the organic with the more synthetic. There are songs like It’s Time that I feel are more towards the organic side, with mandolin and stomp and claps, almost a folky sort of sound. Then more electronic songs like Radioactive that just lend themselves to that synthetic sound; dubsteppy, and a little bit more energetic and empowering.”
With a major attachment to the UK, Wayne reveals that a lot of the band’s inspirations are in fact from British soils. “Growing up, The Beatles were my musical education. I’d sneak into my dad’s study every day, because he had a big vinyl collection, and I’d listen to Abbey Road; everything from that to The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and The Cure. That kind of music is at the heart of our band and that’s something that well all have in common – classic seventies and eighties music is quite prevalent in all of our playlists.”
With such a quick rise to success outside of the homeland, we imagine (no pun intended) it’s taken a while to get used to all of the attention, but Wayne assures us that the boys take it in their stride.
“Our attitude about the UK and Europe has always been that we want to be an international band, and we want to come over here and play, so much so that maybe people would confuse us for being a more local band. That’s how much we want to be here and how much we want to be part of the music culture here; it’s important to all of us that people in the UK can connect with our music, because we connect with the UK frankly.
“We’ve been a band for four years and sort of been trying to earn fans one at a time, so it’s definitely a rewarding experience to see that all the work we’ve been putting in is paying off and that our work is something people respond to. There’s no better feeling really.”
Catch Imagine Dragons at T in the Park and Reading & Leeds this summer