By Jasen T. Davis
Wayne Sermon is the lead guitarist for Imagine Dragons, an indie rock group hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada. If you’ve listened to the radio, browsed the Internet, watched television or been anywhere near a CD player, iPod or smart phone, you’ve probably heard Sermon’s band’s song, “It’s Time,” a track so pervasive it even ended up on the hit show Glee.
“I haven’t actually seen the episode yet,” Sermon says. The band is on the road so often it doesn’t really get a chance to own a television, much less watch one. “When we hear one our songs in ads on the TV it’s a surprise.” Does Imagine Dragons feel less cool because of its popularity? Nope. Sermon and his cohorts enjoy sharing their music. “Our stance has always been that there’s no reason to hide our music from different groups of people,” he says.
The rock scene in Las Vegas exists, but you have to look for it. “There actually is a really cool, kind of underground music scene out here,” Sermon says. “There are a lot of venues and cool bands that play a lot out here.” Many of those groups, Imagine Dragons included, perform at the casinos to make ends meet. “You either have a side job or do that, if you are a musician working in Vegas,” the drummer says.
As a result, Sermon and the band played a lot of hours for a many different groups of people, often mixing in their own compositions next to the popular singles the crowds at the casinos wanted to hear. Sermon is glad the group does because the practice certainly paid off. “We’d play six hour sets every night, all week long. A lot of bands don’t get that opportunity.”
It wasn’t long before Imagine Dragons signed up with Interscope and ended up touring the world over as one of the most talented and popular indie rock bands of the modern era. All that hard work and long hours entertaining near-exhausted, inebriated tourists and gamblers is why Imagine Dragons and its debut album, 2012’s Night Visions, is so damn near perfect—songs from it are everywhere, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Listening to Imagine Dragons can impress from the sheer range of styles in each track on its debut LP. Sermon admits that the band likes to perform a wide range of music because it had to when it was entertaining the crowds in Vegas. “When we were working in the casinos, we’d play everything from back in the day. The Cars, The Cure, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles . . . anything that people would recognize, we’d play it,” he says.
As a result, the band has a keen understanding of what makes a hit, well, a hit. Sermon and the group have played enough of them to know. “When we write a song, we try to make it the best one possible. If you couldn’t enjoy hearing it played on acoustic guitar, it’s probably not a good song,” he says.
What’s next from Imagine Dragons? Everyone likes to hear about new albums, but Night Visions was just released in September of 2012. Sermon promises there will be more albums in the future. “Our goal was always to be an album band. We never wanted to just be some flash-in-the-pan. We grew up listening to solid singles and great albums, the kind you enjoyed from the moment you pushed play on track one,” he says.
The group wants some off time before it starts recording the next album, but there are certainly future plans. “We’re always writing melodies or songs and coming up with ideas,” Sermon says. “For every song we write, there are probably a hundred that don’t make it.”