Imagine Dragons intend to surpass expectations for their epic summer tour when they perform at Boston’s TD Garden on July 1.
Imagine Dragons are no strangers to the unexpected. The band—guitarist Wayne “Wing” Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, drummer Daniel Platzman, and lead singer Dan Reynolds— did not plan to win a Grammy in 2014 or sell 2.5 million copies of their first album, Night Visions. And they certainly never predicted they would make history by performing live in a Target-sponsored commercial break during the Grammy Awards show (the production involved a 360-degree screen, LED jewelry, helicopter shots, and 22 cameras).
“It’s been one surprise after another,” says Sermon.
So when the bless-tressed musician notes that their “Smoke + Mirrors” summer tour (also the name of their chart-topping new album) will boast “things that have never been done before,” it’s a safe bet they’ll deliver. Sermon can’t go into detail—trade secrets and all—but says there will be more lights (“hundreds”), speakers, visual effects, and overall phantasmic shenanigans July 1 at Boston’s TD Garden than ever.
“It may seem glamorous—and it is, sometimes—but we sure didn’t start out that way,” Sermon says. He cofounded the band just six years ago after meeting McKee at Boston’s Berklee College of Music in an ear-training class. “He was the guy in the front row asking all the questions,” he says. “I was the one in the back row being quiet.” Before long, they took to practicing together with fellow classmate Platzman. “I loved Boston—Faneuil Hall and the Freedom Trail were my favorite places,” Sermon says, “but the truth is, most of the time we were playing eight to 10 hours a day in school rehearsal rooms.” What came out of that was a groove and a spiritual core. “It’s a given that everyone can play at Berklee,” Sermon adds, “but we got along.” When he joined forces with Reynolds to form the band, Sermon picked up the phone and called McKee and Platzman. “It cannot be underestimated how much you need to like your bandmates,” he says. “They have to be your family.”
The quartet named themselves Imagine Dragons—an anagram based on a top-secret group of words unknown even to family members—and started performing at tiny joints around Las Vegas. “We’d play four- or five-hour gigs and split the $400 pay between us. It was grueling, but we earned our chops.” They also picked up lots of fans and a record deal, thanks to their anthemic pop sound, powerful hooks, and haunting lyrics. Each track is laced with Reynolds’s moods, both bright and dark, his voice roaring lyrics of apocalypse, dreams, demons, and fame.
“Dan writes lyrics like journal entries,” Sermon says. “They’re deep thoughts and extremely honest. He documents the hard stuff—sudden fame, the loneliness of touring. It’s therapy for him. It’s raw, and it’s real.... We had no idea we would blow up to this extent. Our music is true to us. We write music that we would be okay with playing hundreds of times, over and over.”
This summer the band will perform in 39 cities in 58 days, with barely one day off per week. “We’re upping our game,” Sermon explains. “We owe it to our fans. Their energy is palpable. They’ve booked babysitters and paid for parking. It’s our responsibility to bring the best stage presence we can.” July 1, 7:30 pm. TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, 800-745-3000; ticketmaster.com