Imagine Dragons: Behind ‘Smoke and Mirrors’


Aidin Vaziri | Dan Reynolds is having a rare day off. The frontman of Imagine Dragons, one of the headliners at this year’s BottleRock Napa Valley, spent most of the past three years on the road, supporting the group’s multiplatinum-selling debut album, “Night Visions,” which was catapulted to success on the back of the hit “Radioactive.” In that time, the towering 27-year-old singer got married and had a daughter, Arrow, which made his relentless tour schedule all that more difficult. The Las Vegas quartet’s latest album, “Smoke and Mirrors,” might not help matters. It entered the Billboard 200 straight at No. 1. Imagine Dragons has certainly come a long way from playing nightly six-hour sets at casinos to disinterested gamblers. But Reynolds, who was raised the seventh of nine children, tells us it wasn’t an easy journey.

Q: It sounds like the last tour nearly destroyed you. Were you hesitant about getting back on the road?

A: It’s been crazy — but crazy in all the best ways. I will say it’s very good to be home to spend time with my family.

Q: How would you sum up the past three years?

A: The best word is overwhelming. Your whole life turns upside down: the way you interact with people; the way you see the world; everything. I had never traveled outside of the United States. Your life changes completely, mostly for the better. It’s hard to maintain relationships. I had a newborn right when the record was about to take off. It was tough to be away from her. But it’s something we had been working on for four years. Looking back, having more perspective now, I feel super-blessed.

Q: This album goes deep into your psyche. Is it more therapeutic or traumatic?

A: It’s a little bit of a conflicted record. That was definitely captured. I’m not the most social person. I don’t go out after our shows. I don’t go to the bar. I go back to my hotel room and write. It’s not even because I feel like I need to work on an album. It’s just a way to express myself, journal my day. Once “Night Visions” was done, I literally had a hundred different ideas ready to go.

Q: You’re questioning your life a lot more now. Does that challenge your relationship with the band and your family?

A: I feel like I really have taken the last couple of years to just put aside everything and build from ground zero, whether that’s spiritually or socially. I’ve put aside all the pressures that come from those things. It’s not a healthy way to live up to people’s expectations. You have no room to find out who you are. I don’t what to live like that anymore. I make my own decisions as they come. I question everything. I’m still figuring things out. The greatest thing is finally admitting I don’t have the answers to everything. I’m finally good with that.

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