Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Las Vegas band hits jackpot with debut album

Imagine Dragons on fire with two Grammy nods and 1.7 million in sales

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Last holiday season was cold and lonely for Imagine Dragons. "On Jan. 1, we were performing in Alaska for just a handful of people," says guitarist Wayne (Wing) Sermon. "It was minus 20 degrees and I remember thinking, 'How did we get here?'"

A year later, the Las Vegas rockers' career outlook is decidedly sunnier

Hit single Radioactive earned Imagine Dragons two Grammy Award nominations: one for record of the year and one for rock performance.

"I was asleep on a tour bus somewhere in Spain (when Grammy nominations were announced). I awoke to find a bunch of text messages from family and friends congratulating me. I just sat in my bunk and stared at my phone in disbelief," frontman Dan Reynolds told USA Today in an email. The group was overlooked for new artist, but "we weren't surprised," says Sermon, because debut album Night Visions was released in 2012.

"We've been a band for almost five years now, so I don't think any of us would have expected or even fully understood what it meant to be called a new artist," Reynolds adds.

Being nominated in any category is certainly one off the bucket list and the guys are excited to perform at the Jan. 26 Grammys with Kendrick Lamar.

"(He) approached us at the American Music Awards about playing together. It was an easy thing to say yes to. It's a chance to do something different and out of the box for us, too. We won't be too disappointed if we don't win a Grammy, just as long as our performance goes well. It's the only thing we've got control over, so we're focusing mostly on that," says Sermon.

The group kicked off 2014 at the Allstate Fan Fest before the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1.

The events of the past year are a lot to absorb for a band that has gone from competing with the clamour of casino slot machines to playing sold-out shows on its own headlining tour.

During Imagine Dragons' early gigs, the group spread the word by leaving free CDs for tourists. Night Visions has sold 1.7 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's album chart.

"Honestly, it just doesn't feel real. It's as shocking now as it was then. That people keep coming out to our shows, wait for hours to see us, get sitters for the night, know all our lyrics -- it's a miracle," says Sermon.

The band is working on new music for its second album. "We're always writing, that never stops, but we're not recording it yet. We're still creating, doing it at our own pace," says Sermon.

Reynolds, who has a toddler daughter, Arrow Eve, is ready for 2014. "This last year has been the most intense of my life, but also the most rewarding," he says. "I'll sleep when I die."

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 4, 2014 G9

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