The Las Vegas-based, Provo-born band Imagine Dragons is a pop act that never shies away from a big beat.
The group brings that rhythm to Utah on Tuesday with a show at Salt Lake City's In the Venue.
The band released three EPs on its own before signing with Interscope records for its major-label EP release, "Continued Silence," in February of this year. Imagine Dragons utilized a hip-hop, big-beat producer, Alex da Kid (Eminem, Rihanna), for the breakthrough record. They combined forces to make the EP in Hollywood's storied Westlake Studios.
The debut single "This Time" is riding at No. 14 on the national Alt Radio charts, and Billboard Magazine recently singled out Imagine Dragons as one of five "Alternative Up and Comers Ready To Go Pop."
"Working with such a great producer, him adding his two cents, his certain view, worked really well," said Wayne Sermon, the band's lead guitarist, of collaborating with Alex da Kid. Sermon was calling from the tour bus somewhere between New York City and Pennsylvania.
"I think his fingerprints are on the entire EP. We have been a percussive, rhythm-based band. He really knows how to get huge-sounding drums. On (the tracks) "Radioactive" and "Demons," you can really hear it, that huge drum sound. Alex da Kid helped us fine-tune that, made them bigger than they ever were before. And we always like them big."
Forming the band
The band first came together in Provo, shortly after Sermon graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Through a mutual friend, he met Dan Reynolds, the band's singer.
"I was looking to have a career in music and be serious about it," said Sermon. "Dan had the same goal. So we kind of gelled in a musical way. We had many of the same influences and realized what the band needed to be."
The twosome decided Las Vegas, which had spawned The Killers, might be a good city in which to pursue their dream. They asked two friends Sermon had met in Boston, Ben McKee (bass) and Daniel Platzman (drums), to join them.
"When I met them at Berklee, we worked together pretty well," said Sermon of the Imagine Dragons rhythm men. "But I never dreamed in a thousand years that we'd make it together in a rock band. They both kind of went out on a limb for this. Ben, especially -- he had one semester left before he graduated when a spot opened up in the band. With two weeks' notice, he moved to Vegas."
Vegas art scene
The band chose Vegas instead of one of the other music cities to hone their craft for a number of reasons, said Sermon.
One was that Reynolds is what Sermon described as a "third-generation Las Vegan."
"He told me there was a huge underground music scene there. Really, it is an underground art movement. There is a big arts festival every month in the old downtown of Las Vegas, and a lot of bands come out to play. It is growing into a big thing there, really happening as a cultural thing. And yet, the city was not as saturated as other music markets, like Los Angeles, or Portland or Seattle."
In addition to the festivals and some solid clubs, like The Beauty Bar and the Funk House, the Vegas casinos also offered the band a way to make a living and learn how to work an audience.
"In order to make it as musicians, we started taking in cover shows at casinos, and then mixing in some originals -- places like Mandalay Bay and the Monte Carlo," said Sermon. "That was beneficial for a number of reasons. Learning the covers helped us hone our craft. And you get to play for all sorts of people from outside Vegas, too. That helped get the word out on us.
"Plus, when you play casino shows, you compete with a lot -- so many lights, so much noise, people with machines to keep them entertained. So, in order to get somewhere, you have to bring a level of entertainment and excitement to the stage. That is still a part of the energy of our show to this day."