They rocked Minneapolis right before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Target Field in 2014. Now they will rock Minneapolis on Thursday right before next Sunday’s Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Have Imagine Dragons become Minneapolis’ go-to jock band?
But the Las Vegas quartet has certainly become a go-to band for jock jams. First, it was “Radioactive,” the band’s massive 2012 hit, and now it’s last year’s “Believer” and “Thunder.”
“We’ve always had a relationship with sports and e-sports,” said bassist/keyboardist Ben McKee. “I think there’s a similar vibe there whether you’re playing video game football or actually working out. There’s something about our music. We have a lot of percussion and driving rhythm. That lends well to working with sports.”
“Believer” has been heard on NBA slam-dunk contests, “Dancing With the Stars” and WWE wrestling, among other places.
“It’s a song that has a lot of energy and the choruses are kind of yelling,” McKee said. “It gives you that feeling that you have more power within you than maybe you thought. You put that song on and you’re getting into an athletic head space. You feel like you could run through a wall without feeling it.”
Lead singer/songwriter Dan Reynolds told People magazine that the song was inspired by his experiences with a form of spinal arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis.
“The meaning of the song is really reflecting on specific things in my life that were painful, whether it was anxiety and dealing with crowds, feeling overwhelmed by that or the success of the band, disease, going through depression — anything that was a source of pain in my life,” Reynolds told People. “And just rising above that, finding a place of perspective where I could be appreciative of the pain in my life and make it my greatest strength.”
Now “Thunder” has taken off, too.
Imagine Dragons “seem to be writing music just for arenas,” Brian Campbell, Nashville Predators event presentation director, told Billboard recently.
Or as McKee put it about last year’s entire “Evolve” album: “I think the whole album has an energy to it to propel you through a pretty active day. You could probably put on the whole album and have a pretty good workout session.”
Both “Believer” and “Thunder” have obvious rhythmic elements of hip-hop.
“We’re open to experimentation, especially with the percussion side of things, to bring in electronic beats from hip-hop. That gives us a different sound than other rock bands,” said McKee, pointing out that Imagine Dragons have collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and Khalid. “We enjoy that music. It’s bound to come out in our writing.”
The California-bred 32-year-old McKee divides his non-touring time between Oakland and Vegas, where the band has a house turned into a studio.
McKee said he has noticed a change in the mood in Vegas since a gunman killed 58 people at an outdoor country-music concert in October.
“It’s driven the community together,” McKee said. “I think things have bounced back in a big way. I don’t think people are afraid to come to Vegas. This is a safe, beautiful city. Entertainment capital of the world. It’s a vibrant place to come enjoy, but it also has a core community of locals. It has a family feeling to it.”
Reynolds recently premiered his documentary, “Believer,” at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Reynolds, who was once a Mormon missionary, takes a look at the views held by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about gay people. The film features Neon Trees singer Tyler Glenn, who is Mormon and gay.
McKee said he is not concerned that the film will cause any controversy with conservative Imagine Dragons fans.
“I don’t think equality and human rights are a controversial thing,” he said.
“Believing that all people should be treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation, if somebody thinks that’s controversial, that’s on them.”
McKee is more likely to find controversy when Imagine Dragons talk football in Minneapolis while eating Jucy Lucys or having breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen (they’ve been to the Twin Cities several times).
Drummer Daniel Platzman is an Atlanta Falcons fan. McKee is a lifelong San Francisco 49ers fan. But he said he thinks that he might have to switch loyalties when the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas.
That might give new meaning to being in a jock jam.