One of Vegas’ most beloved musical exports, Imagine Dragons, just announced the release date for the band’s highly anticipated third album. Evolve will drop on the Interscope imprint KIDinaKORNER on June 23. The release will be supported by a full arena tour that will touch down in most U.S. markets this fall, with opening support from Grouplove and K.Flay. Tickets for the tour go on sale May 19.
Lead vocalist Dan Reynolds recently chatted with Vegas Seven about what to expect from the upcoming album, his creative process and thoughts about Las Vegas.
The title of your new album, Evolve, implies an important transition. What inspired that progression?
Before we went into making this record was the first time we really took time off. We came home to reconnect with normal life and our family and friends. With Smoke+Mirrors, we went straight in from the first record, and our heads were still spinning from the band going from zero to 100. It was really healthy for me and all of the band to come home and spend time to reevaluate things—[to] find gratitude for our dreams coming to fruition. We went into this record with a renewed, healthy outlook, and it was an evolution mentally for me. And lyrically, it speaks to that.
We took a more minimalistic approach. Instead of just layering things upon things, we were selective about acoustic sounds—what the exact sound of the one drum should sound like, as opposed to layering 50 drums on top of each other to get that sound. Sonically, it was also an evolution, so Evolve was just the right title.
You’ve described Evolve as colorful. Do you feel that color is the antithesis of darkness in this case?
Smoke+Mirrors, visually, was gothic and brooding and angsty, which has always been a part of Imagine Dragons—for better or worse. I’m a pretty angsty human being [laughs]. This record still carries that angst but it does it in a more colorful, celebratory way.
Since evolution seems to be the theme you’re working with, how do you feel your band has evolved over the last few years?
It’s hard when you’re in the eye of the storm to have good perspective on how you have changed, or how the band has changed—but it certainly has. As you grow as a band, you are sonically interested in different things. The last thing we wanted to do on this record was create 10 more “Radioactive”s or 10 more “It’s Time”s. Sonically, we’re in a different head space and we want to create things that are exciting to us.
You make many references to pain in your music, and I know you struggle with AS (ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory condition of the joints). Do you find that you can create music better when you’re feeling well, or is it when you’re suffering that the art emerges?
Smoke+Mirrors was in the prime of my diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis and also ulcerative colitis, so physically I was in a really bad place. I felt a lot of anger for why I’d been given two diseases. Nobody wants to face that, especially when you’ve been trying to live healthy.
We had absolutely no idea of the scale of what Imagine Dragons would become. There’s a lot of beautiful, wonderful things that come with that, and there’s a lot of heavy, crazy things that come with it too. Your relationships change with everybody, and the way you view the world changes.
The tour kicks off in September. Do you know what your set list and stage show will look like yet?
It’s pretty exciting! Now, since we have three records, going into this tour I think that every night the set list will change significantly, depending on how we’re feeling and what we’re seeing that night. We’re really excited to carve out the story that we want to tell each night. We’re looking forward to creating a world where fans can come escape their life for a night and walk into a world of Evolve.
Do you treat the Vegas shows on a tour any differently than other stops, since it’s essentially a homecoming?
It’s a different dynamic [with] hometown shows, and the music and passion will reflect that. We remember playing The Bunkhouse and Beauty Bar and First Friday, and being able to see familiar faces at the T-Mobile Arena is like an emotional experience and we feel incredibly grateful for the journey. And we owe it to Vegas. We have a lot of loyalty to this city.
How much time do you find yourself in Vegas these days?
Every day, we live here. This is my home. I love this city. And I have no plans on ever leaving it.
Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m., $40–$80, T-Mobile Arena, t-mobilearena.com