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Utah County natives Imagine Dragons open rock shows for everyone – gay or straight

Following in the footsteps of The Used and Neon Trees, the Utah County natives behind Imagine Dragons have made it into the big time. Skyrocketing to the top of iTunes downloads and working their way through the Billboard Top 200, the first full-length album released by the band, Night Visions, is the result of three years of hard work. The first single from the album released earlier this month, “It’s Time,” was nominated for a Video Music Award and will be featured on an upcoming episode of Glee. The young, sexy and talented group returns to Utah on Saturday, Sept. 19 for the X96 Big Ass Show.

Defining the sound of Imagine Dragons is tough. Equal parts Phil Collins, The Killers and Kings of Leon, the group use heavy melodic beats to drive home catchy radio-ready pop rock hits.

“I think that percussion is really important to us and it’s something that reaches across all boundaries, cultures, musical tastes and genres. I think percussion is something that can speak to everyone,” said guitarist Wayne Sermon.

Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where all the band members except singer Dan Reynolds attended. After relocating to Las Vegas and playing every seedy bar and club in town, the band finally signed to Interscope Records and released their first album with the help of producer Alex da Kid (known for his work with Eminem and Rihanna).

“It’s just been amazing. We’re so excited about releasing our album and can’t wait to come back to Utah for the show,” Sermon said. “To think that we’ll even just be able to pay rent and utilities and buy some food, even if it’s just Ramen, I think we’ll feel like we’ve finally made it.”

Drawing on inspiration from favorite bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Boston, Paul Simon and some more contemporary groups, Imagine Dragon’s lyrics are instantly lovable and impossible to eradicate after they get stuck in your head. Chock full of more soul and anguish than a band from Utah County ought to be able to muster, Sermon said most of the lyrics are inspired after dark.

“That’s where we get the title Night Visions,” he said. “I’m an insomniac and can go days without sleeping. Some of my best work comes from about midnight to 4 a.m. when everyone else is asleep.”

However, it’s not just strong and emotional lyrics that fill the album and many of the album highlights, perhaps most notably, “Nothing Left to Say/Rocks,” is downright bubbly. But gathering that diverse range of emotions and styles is exactly what Imagine Dragons wants to do, Sermon said.

“Freddy Mercury is my favorite frontman of all time. I think he is exactly what a band needs and the world is so ready for another Freddy Mercury,” Sermon said. “And I see no reason why someone’s sexual orientation should change how hard they can rock.”

While he doesn’t identify as gay, there are plenty of gays in the industry and Sermon said he hopes everyone can feel comfortable at their shows.

“We are a band of inclusion and acceptance of all walks of life. We want our music to be universal and apply to as many people as possible – gay or straight. No matter where you stand politically, there’s room for acceptance. We could all use a little more understanding and help,” he said.

As for where the band came up with their imaginative name, it’s actually an anagram for something deeply personal to the band members.

When asked for a hint, Sermon laughed and said, “There are some hints out there. It’s possible that someone could figure it out. I’m not going to say how, but it’s possible.”

For tickets to the X96 Big Ass Show, go to smithstix.com.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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