Wayne Sermon (far right) and his bandmates from Imagine Dragons. Interscope Geffen A&M/Publicity.
Today, May 20, Imagine Dragons returns to Utah to perform for a sold-out crowd at the UCCU center in Orem. For founding member/guitarist and Utah native Wayne Sermon this is more than just a welcome to the new age, it's a welcome home.
We chatted with Sermon to chat about his homecoming.
What's your favorite thing about Utah?
"It's my home. I was born and raised there; it's what I know. I was born just minutes from American Fork Canyon where I spent a lot of time going up into the mountains and that, for me, is one of the biggest selling points for Utah—just the amazing mountains. I think that rivals any other state for sure. Our main destination for plaining family vacations was always Bryce Canyon or Zion Canyon, [also] I did a lot of skiing growing up so Utah was a great place for me to be raised."
What's it like to come back home to Utah topping the Billboard charts?
"Honestly, I just feel humbled by the whole thing. I feel very grateful. I know that's probably boring, but thats kind of how I feel. I mean, there's so many bands in the world and there's so many people that want to be doing what I'm doing and want to be doing what Imagine Dragons [are] doing. Obviously we try to work extremely hard to generate as much luck as we can in the industry, and I think that whatever we lack in talent we try to make up for and be hard working, but at the same time, there is luck involved in any business."
What were some of your favorite places to perform while starting out in Utah?
"Velour in Provo was a huge help to us. Corey Fox, who owns Velour, definitely gave us a chance early on when we were nobodies. He likes to kind of harbor that—he likes to [provide] a place where bands can go who don't have any fans yet, so if he believes in the music and believes in the band he'll give them a chance. That was like a second home to us."
Your music is rather unique. It almost feels like the next evolution in rock music. Your lucrative rise to fame has been called the "age of dragons." What are your thoughts on that?
"We're an alternative rock band at our core but we also like to mix different elements in our music. We've never felt confined to one genre, [but] we are riding on the shoulders of other amazing bands—we love bands like Arcade Fire, they have a sound that has always been interesting to us, they're the real deal. There are countless others—Foster the People, Passion Pit, who all helped kind change the game of alternative music. They're these kind of bands that can crossover into pop music again that are more alternative acts. That's a huge deal and we're sort of riding that wave as well; it's definitely a big group effort to try and get alternative music into peoples hands."
I've seen a lot of strange music videos, but the Imagine Dragons' video for "Radioactive" is up there as one of the strangest—could you talk a bit about what that video represents?
"That one was a fun one for us to shoot. We grew up watching Labyrinth with David Bowie and all [of] those creepy puppets that were [in] there. At the end of the day, we didn't want to give our fans what was expected of the video. It's an intense video in that it's about this uprising and self-empowerment that happens, but it just happens to happen to a pink teddy bear. People either like it or are very confused by it."
What is the Tyler Robinson Foundation and what connection do you have with it?
"We met Tyler at Velour actually. He was at a show and we heard about his story and we met him and talked to him and we just sort of became inspired by his battle with cancer. We became friends with him and up until the end, we were in contact with him; he passed away pretty abruptly to the cancer. We were definitely moved by him as a person and we wanted to in some way help the cause, so we started a foundation in his name. It's really just to help families pay for the treatment costs that are included in cancer treatment."