Las Vegas is a multifaceted city, a juxtaposition of lights and shadows, very much like the evolution of Imagine Dragons music. The band’s work encapsulates the eccentricity of their hometown while weaving in some of their unique interpretations of different cultures they have experienced in their travels.
“‘Smoke + Mirrors’ was a very dark album. It came from a dark place. And ‘Evolve’ has sprung forward,” says Ben McKee, bass guitarist for the band.
Marriott TRAVELER caught up with Imagine Dragons — Daniel Platzman, Ben McKee, Dan Reynolds and Wayne Sermon — at the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park prior to their explosive concert for Marriott Rewards members. They talked about their inspirations and some of their favorite spots in Las Vegas.
[Note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. ]
The album “Evolve” is about Imagine Dragons’ evolution. How has the band evolved musically, and where does the group find the inspiration to continue to innovate in the music industry?
Ben: I think that we have really evolved continuously throughout our career. If you look at the music that Imagine Dragons has produced, we’ve always been exploring, reaching and allowing ourselves to become influenced by the music around us and the things that we see when we are on the road. … We need to be creating music; just life is an inspiration to create.
Does travel inspire you? Was there a place that inspired this new album?
Daniel: If there is a creative sponge, traveling filled that sponge. We toured with “Smoke + Mirrors” a lot, so this sponge got really, really full. “Evolve” was conceived when we finally stopped traveling and just harvested all the creative juices from that sponge.
You have been on tours around the world. Which is your favorite city to visit, and why? Where have you been recently that really impressed you musically?
Dan: I think it’s hard to pinpoint an actual location. I think we travel so much that the world fuses its way into the music in ways that we probably can’t comprehend, whether it’s the culture, the conversation that you have with somebody in some foreign country, or [the] festival you went to that has special feelings. So I think that I can’t say there’s any specific place. For example, earlier on in our career, there was a song [called] “Amsterdam;” it was about my romanticized version of what Amsterdam was in my head.
Daniel: When we were in London, we saw Slaves, and that was pretty inspiring. They have, among other things, a song called “Cheer Up London.”
Dan: You felt like you saw them and you understood London a little bit more from an American point of view. I’m sure there are parts of Imagine Dragons that are very representative of Las Vegas — the eccentricity of the band, the color, the energy. Some things that personify Vegas translate themselves into the music of Imagine Dragons.
Tell us about your hometown. Can you tell us something about Las Vegas that few people know?
Daniel: I would say if you are going to Vegas, you can go to the Excalibur and go to the Tournament of Kings, and you get to eat a whole chicken with your hands and eat some tomato soup and see people jousting, and you learn to say “Huzzah!” There’s Penn & Teller; there’s Cirque du Soleil. “O” is my favorite show there, but there are five Cirque shows you can see.
Wayne: Old downtown: You can see the container park on Fremont St. There’s a praying mantis that shoots fire, and you can get a taco.
What has impressed you about Bangkok so far?
Ben: It’s the way that you don’t need to go to a particular destination in the city to have a good time. You can just go out, walk down the street and there’s something to eat, something to drink, everywhere you go. And it was very impressive, especially today — we got to go to the Train Market. It’s just like life is going so abundantly and so densely [and] then the train comes through, everybody just moves out of the way just for a second for the train and then moves right back in around it. I feel like that’s kind of the way that Bangkok is; everything is constantly moving and all-encompassing but still sliding past each other seamlessly, working smoothly.
Wayne: Unless you are in traffic.
Ben: Even the traffic — people aren’t honking their horns; it’s clean, peaceful traffic. Here in Bangkok everybody just sits there when traffic is bad. Everybody has accepted that and knows that there’s nothing they can do to get around it.
You travel a lot for work; what’s your idea of a holiday?
Wayne: Home …
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