Interview conducted August 21, 2012.
Imagine Dragons are a band hoping they are on the brink of a major music industry breakthrough. With a nomination at September's MTV Video Music Awards, placement in advertising for the September release film The Perks Of Being a Wallflower, and a cover of their hit "It's Time" on the season debut of Glee in September, all signs point toward a major pop hit. Fortunately, I got a few moments to sit down and talk to Imagine Dragons guitar player D. Wayne Sermon about the band, the impending success, and their upcoming debut album.
I asked Wayne what the band's expectations were a year ago, before all of the success of the song "It's Time" began. He said that, "This has sort of always been the goal." He wasn't egocentric in this statement. Instead, Wayne explained that all of the group's members want to make music their career, and, if that is to come about, success like they are now finding is necessary. He said they realize a bit of luck is involved, and there is plenty of competition, but they stick to hard work and concentration which is the advice they would give to any aspiring musicians.
British producer Alex Da Kid worked on "It's Time," and, is, in fact the executive producer for the entire debut album Night Visions. Alex Da Kid is best known for his work on such hip hop pop hits as "Love the Way You Lie," "Airplanes," and "Coming Home." So I asked Wayne how the band hooked up with Alex Da Kid. He said it was simply a matter of their assistant connecting them. The group and Alex Da Kid met and shared their ideas, talked about their approach, and realized there was a good fit. Wayne says, "You can tell when it works." A couple of weeks later the band was in the studio working on tracks for the debut album. Wayne said that one of the best things about working with Alex Da Kid was he knows, "when to be hands on and when not." Some of the songs he left to the band to do most of the production.
I asked Wayne about how he became a guitar player. He said that as a child he would listen to old vinyl records his dad had collected and played air guitar with a tennis racket to old Beatles and Boston songs. The gift of a guitar at the age of 12 was, "probably the best gift I ever got." He said that since then he has practiced hours a day and really has never wanted to do anything else as a profession except play the guitar. His personal influences range from classic guitarists like Jimi Hendrix to current bands like Arcade Fire. Wayne acknowledged the field is rather crowded with lots of bands doing great guitar work.
Out of my own curiosity for how these things work, I asked how Imagine Dragons found out that their song "It's Time" would be covered on the season 4 debut episode of Glee September 13, 2012. Wayne said that they, "really didn't have much of anything to do with it." The band found out about the inclusion of the song a few weeks ago. He did acknowledge they are very excited recognizing the commercial boost both fun. and Gotye received from the covers of their songs. Wayne places Imagine Dragons in a similar alternative pop categorization with those artists.
The next steps for Imagine Dragons are the release of their debut album Night Visions on September 4, 2012 and touring. The band will hit the road opening for AWOLNATION. They will be covering the country from coast to coast throughout September and October. Currently the single "It's Time" has reached the top 10 at both alternative and rock radio while climbing into the top 40 at adult pop. It is on the rise on the Billboard Hot 100. The next month or two are crucial to see whether Imagine Dragons are the next alternative pop band to break into the pop mainstream in a big way.