On Friday, Imagine Dragons will headline the T in the Park festival in Scotland. On Saturday, they will rock Major League Baseball’s All-Star Concert in Minneapolis.
Who schedules these things? Scotland one night, Minneapolis the next.
“That’s not even the beginning of it,” Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynold said last week from — where else? — Norway. “First we went to Canada for the Much Music Awards. Then we flew to Hong Kong for the movie premiere [“Transformers: Age of Extinction”] and then we flew straight to Dover, Delaware, for Firefly [Music Festival] and from that we flew to Europe for festivals. I’ve been in so many different time zones. It’s definitely a great problem to have.”
It’s the problem you have when you’re America’s biggest rock band of the moment.
In fact, the Las Vegas quartet has pulled off something that perhaps no other act has done before: gone from clubs to stadiums on the strength of its debut album.
“I can’t think of anybody else who’s done it,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, the concert journal. “I wouldn’t look to Imagine Dragons to tour stadiums following this show. But they are playing lots of big festivals.”
Said Reynolds: “I can’t wrap my head around it. I don’t think any band could dream of what’s happened or prepare for it. None of us knew it would move at this pace. It’s overwhelming.”
The biggest crowd the Imagine Dragons have faced is about 100,000 at the Rock am Ring fest in Germany and Lollapalooza in Brazil. Reynolds can’t remember his biggest U.S. audience. “I just see faces as far as the eye can see,” he said. “It’s a pretty amazing sight.”
This dude drops “amazings” and “awesomes” like Kanye West drops f-bombs.
The All-Star Concert is being set up for a mere 27,000 people at TCF Bank Stadium. Still, Reynolds is amped.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said with enthusiasm that’s beginning to sound routine. “After the last couple of years, it seems like one thing on top of the next of just dream scenarios. This is one that I think will be one for the books — something we’ll remember always.”
Bongiovanni has a good idea why Major League Baseball tapped Imagine Dragons: “They appeal to a wide demographic, they’re not politically risky, and they’re certainly entertaining.”
Drummer digs baseball
Even though he grew up in Nevada, Reynolds is a St. Louis Cardinals fan because one of his older brothers had a Cards cap — and “we had a Nintendo game when I was young and it was when [Cards slugger] Mark McGwire was in his prime, so it was mandatory to play with Mark McGwire if you wanted to beat your older brothers in the games.”
The baseball fanatic in Imagine Dragons is statistics-spouting drummer Daniel Platzman, who will stay in Minneapolis to watch the All-Star Game (“He’s probably more excited about the game than anything else we’ve done as a band to this date,” Reynolds said) with bassist Ben McKee while Reynolds goes home to celebrate his 27th birthday with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter.
Platzman may also visit with the folks at Infinity Drumworks in Blaine, who make the shells of the drums he plays onstage.
The Twin Cities has been a big market for Imagine Dragons, its frontman pointed out.
“I’ve got to say Minneapolis was one of the first places to honestly embrace us,” he said. “It was the first place playing us on the radio.”
Still, in the Twin Cities, it’s been a gradual build for the Vegas rockers — from maybe 100-plus people at the Triple Rock in April 2012 to the Basilica Block Party that summer to sellouts at the Varsity Theater in March 2013, Roy Wilkins Auditorium in September 2013 and Xcel Energy Center in March 2014.
“It was so important to us to never skip any steps,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t want to play a theater till we played a large club, even though we probably could have played a theater then. We probably could have played an amphitheater but we didn’t want to skip that step, so we played the theater. From there to be able to play the All-Star Game feels like the next right step. It’s a strange one at that. We’ve had some Vegas luck on our side and a lot of hard work.”
Imagine Dragons’ debut disc, “Night Visions,” became a 2 million seller, thanks to the explosive hit “Radioactive” and such other radio favorites as “Demons,” “On Top of the World” and “It’s Time.” Since the album was issued in September 2012, the group has released only one new recording: this summer’s “Battle Cry” from the “Transformers: Age of Extinction” soundtrack.
Next CD: raw, loose
Should fans interpret “Battle Cry” as a preview of the band’s sophomore album?
“I don’t think it’s a very good reflection of what the second album will sound like,” he said. “It’s more about the creating process that is similar. We’ve been big perfectionists since the beginning of this band. When you create music, sometimes you have to learn to let go. If that means something sounds dirty or messy, sometimes that might be the right thing. I’m proud of our first record, but we’ve got quite a bit of maturing and growing to do.
“All the vocals on ‘Battle Cry’ were recorded through my laptop speaker in a green room at a festival. I liked how the vocals sounded, so we kept it. That would have never happened three years ago. I feel like we’ve grown to love our flaws and faults a little more. Some of my vocals are a little more pitchy and feel more raw, and some of the instrumentation is more loose and live.”
The singer has cut more than 100 demos that he’s written after gigs (“I’m a recluse on the road”), and four or five tracks have been completed in the Vegas house that the band bought, renovated and converted into a recording studio.
“We promised ourselves that we would not put a deadline on ourselves,” he continued, shunning any talk of a release date.
But Reynolds has come up with a more pressing concern. When told that Imagine Dragons’ big All-Star Game gig is on the same day as the annual Basilica Block Party, he got genuinely excited.
“I remember when we played Basilica Block Party, it was our biggest show that we’d played to date. And just totally exhilarating. Probably our favorite show that we’d played up to that point,” he said. “I wish we could do both [that and the All-Star concert]. Maybe I’ll run over and do an acoustic song. ”
Just what Reynolds needs — more challenging travel logistics.