Music/Interviews

Imagine Dragons had to step back to evolve

Jun 23, 2017

We talked to Imagine Dragons about trust, hiatuses and childhood art teachers.

Sometimes, to evolve, you need to look back. And sometimes you need to step back too. That’s what Imagine Dragons did with ƎVOLVE, their third album and the follow-up to 2015’s Smoke + Mirrors.

Last February, the band went on hiatus. It didn’t last long, and it wasn’t a break in the traditional sense. But touring the world-over wears on a person, and Imagine Dragons were starting to feel it, so they stepped away. Not from making music—they’re quick to make that distinction—but from all of the periphery that comes with it; the appearances and photo shoots and video shoots; the interviews and meet and greets.

“We were taking a break from the business part of the music,” says bassist Ben McKee. “As much as music is energizing and music is love, you start to get a little bit burned out from it after a while.”

“I don’t think it was really the music we were burnt out on,” adds drummer Daniel Platzman. “It was all the things that were required to do the music.”

But as McKee puts it, stepping back helped Imagine Dragons appreciate where they are, and made them hungry to get back to business. “It really allowed us to fall in love with every part of the process all over again,” he says.

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“My old art teacher Ginger Birdsie used to say that her most important job knowing when to take the art away from us kids—because it was done.”

Daniel Platzman, Imagine Dragons.

That process changed a little on ƎVOLVE. Aside from some help from Alex da Kid, Smoke + Mirrors was largely self-produced; ƎVOLVE enlists more than 6 producers. It was new for the band, but beneficial. It helped them expand their sound by simplifying it—addition by substraction. ƎVOLVE maintains the band’s trademark pulse, much of which is thanks to Platzman and McKee, but it’s more dynamic than ever before. There’s less noise, and singer Dan Reynolds has more room to breath than ever before.

“Learning to trust somebody else is hard,” says McKee.

“It’s like those trust falls that they make you do at camp,” adds Platzman.

Having another brain in the room can help you save you from yourself. For Imagine Dragons, it helped them focus on what mattered most: the music.

“My old art teacher Ginger Birdsie used to say that her most important job knowing when to take the art away from us kids—because it was done.”

ƎVOLVE is done and in stores today. Check it out wherever you get your music. 

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