THE GRAMMY MUSEUM, Clive Davis Theater - If you take away the catwalk, the massive LCD screens, the booming amplifiers, and the scintillating pyrotechnics, and put Imagine Dragons in a small room with 200 lucky fans, what you get is one of the purest rock bands in music. Last night The GRAMMY Museum continued their ongoing series "The Drop" by welcoming Imagine Dragons to the Clive Davis Theater for a conversation with executive director Scott Goldman about their latest album release Evolve, followed by an intimate acoustic performance.
Goldman kicked off the sold-out event by asking the band how they have evolved since 2012 in regards to making Evolve. As a band, having previously self-produced much of their first two records, frontman Dan Reynolds said: "We tried to be more minimalistic and selective...we brought in producers on this record to say 'no.'" Bassist Ben McKee added, "As producers, we wanted to be produced." Typically the band writes around 150 songs per record and picks between 10-15 of them. To date, they've written about 500 songs and made the point that with today's technology, the unlimited amount of tracks available while recording is actually detrimental. While referencing the old conventional method of recording such as The Beatles' use of two, two-track recordings taped together, guitarist Wayne Sermon said, "limitations are actually really good, boundaries are amazing." Imagine Dragons took the "less is more" approach while recording the new album.
Photo: Alison Buck/Wireimage.com
Imagine Dragons started as a Las Vegas cover band who played all the "crummy casinos" in town. Starting with the first week, the band committed to rehearsing eight hours a day, six days a week. The goal was to learn 50 cover songs to be able to perform live, and at the same time write original music. During that time, each band member picked 10 or so songs for the band to learn. Scott Goldman then asked each member to name one of the songs that they picked. McKee picked Sublime's "Santeria", Sermon picked The Cars' "Just What I Needed", Daniel Platzman picked Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life", and Dan Reynolds picked The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."
Dan Reynolds has openly acknowledged his battles with depression and the professional help he needed to survive. Tonight, the singer shared how important it is for people to talk about their feelings while dealing with depression. The band's fans often approach him with stories of how his open battle with depression inspires them to be open about their own struggle. A lighthearted moment came when he described how "depression" is an awful word. "I wish it could be called 'uniquely emotional.'" The audience erupted in laughter. While being raised in a large conservative Mormon family in Las Vegas, and as he grew older, Reynolds grew tired of the divide between the Mormon faith as well as other religions, and the LGBTQ community. In 2017 he founded Love Loud Festival, which sparks an important conversation about "what it means to unconditionally love, understand, accept and support LGBTQ+ youth in an effort to keep families together."
Photo: Alison Buck/Wireimage.com
The majority of fans at last night's performance were not millennials but rather fans in their mid-30s, 40s, and 50s. Perhaps the most compelling part of the conversation came during the Q and A part. Shimon Moore, formerly of the band Sick Puppies and now a solo artist stood up and introduced himself. Dan Reynolds immediately responded with "Wait, I've heard of Sick Puppies." Moore went on to ask what would it take for him to open for Imagine Dragons. After asking Moore to connect with their manager Reynolds replied: "I promise you from the stage today, you will open for us."
The acoustic performance began with a piano-only rendition of "Shots" from Smoke + Mirrors, with the fifth member of Imagine Dragons Elliot Schwartzman on keys and each member of the band singing vocal harmonies. A stripped down rendition of "Believer" followed, showcasing Reynolds' soulful voice and the band's impeccable timing. After igniting an intimate sing-along during "It's Time", they continued with the second single off of Evolve, "Thunder." The band closed the performance with their GRAMMY-winning hit "Radioactive." Imagine Dragons are set to kick off the Evolve World Tour in Phoenix, AZ on September 26.