15 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Four albums in six years is a breakneck pace for any major artist in 2018, to say nothing of a band as ascendant and ambitious as Imagine Dragons. And as with its predecessors, the songs that comprise Origins—coming just over a year after the blockbuster Evolve—aren't tossed-off lo-fi recordings. They’re big hits with big beats and big choruses and big production, made for the big venues that the Los Angeles/Las Vegas quartet regularly play. And if the pressures that come with mounting pop stardom aren’t enough to discourage a prolific streak, there’s always debilitating personal strife. But those hard times led to more songs, frontman Dan Reynolds tells Apple Music.

How did this album come together so quickly?
Some of these songs were written when we had weeks off on tour; some were written a month ago. I know there’s some bands that say, “Every three years we’ll put out a record and feed the fans, do a big tour, and then go away,” but we have the ability to continually feed the culture and fan base of Imagine Dragons, so why not do that? I grew up mainly listening to hip-hop and I loved the whole aspect of mixtapes—you could consume stuff from your favorite artists continually, and rock doesn’t do that. We kind of just get put there because we have a guitarist and because sometimes I sing a little screamy, but I really am more influenced by the culture of hip-hop, and of R&B music.

Is there one particular song that made you realize this was going to be a proper album sooner than later?
The last track, “Real Life,” really solidified things for me. Imagine Dragons has never been a love song kind of band, but this record is, like, 90% about love and relationships. I went through a hard divorce this year and we announced it to the world—then we never wound up signing the papers. We have a chaotic relationship, but a stale one seems worse to me. It sounds like such a clichéd thing to say, but going through heartbreak is devastating. Your whole world falls apart.

So you threw yourself into writing?
I had to be either listening to or creating music at all times, because I was so afraid of facing a quiet room. I just had this gaping hole that felt so desolate and scary, and music at least took me away from that. “Bad Liar” I wrote with my wife right before we separated, and it’s all about a dying relationship. Listening to it now that we’re back together, it’s kind of cathartic in a weird way.

Do you write differently now, knowing there’s a huge audience waiting?
Fortunately, we have a few things going for us. We’ve been pretty genre-less since the beginning, so whereas some bands get pigeonholed, we’re able to be all over the gamut. I love big melodies and poppy songs; the only rock I listened to was Rage Against the Machine and Minor Threat. I enjoy writing pop music and I want to write big pop songs.

Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Four albums in six years is a breakneck pace for any major artist in 2018, to say nothing of a band as ascendant and ambitious as Imagine Dragons. And as with its predecessors, the songs that comprise Origins—coming just over a year after the blockbuster Evolve—aren't tossed-off lo-fi recordings. They’re big hits with big beats and big choruses and big production, made for the big venues that the Los Angeles/Las Vegas quartet regularly play. And if the pressures that come with mounting pop stardom aren’t enough to discourage a prolific streak, there’s always debilitating personal strife. But those hard times led to more songs, frontman Dan Reynolds tells Apple Music.

How did this album come together so quickly?
Some of these songs were written when we had weeks off on tour; some were written a month ago. I know there’s some bands that say, “Every three years we’ll put out a record and feed the fans, do a big tour, and then go away,” but we have the ability to continually feed the culture and fan base of Imagine Dragons, so why not do that? I grew up mainly listening to hip-hop and I loved the whole aspect of mixtapes—you could consume stuff from your favorite artists continually, and rock doesn’t do that. We kind of just get put there because we have a guitarist and because sometimes I sing a little screamy, but I really am more influenced by the culture of hip-hop, and of R&B music.

Is there one particular song that made you realize this was going to be a proper album sooner than later?
The last track, “Real Life,” really solidified things for me. Imagine Dragons has never been a love song kind of band, but this record is, like, 90% about love and relationships. I went through a hard divorce this year and we announced it to the world—then we never wound up signing the papers. We have a chaotic relationship, but a stale one seems worse to me. It sounds like such a clichéd thing to say, but going through heartbreak is devastating. Your whole world falls apart.

So you threw yourself into writing?
I had to be either listening to or creating music at all times, because I was so afraid of facing a quiet room. I just had this gaping hole that felt so desolate and scary, and music at least took me away from that. “Bad Liar” I wrote with my wife right before we separated, and it’s all about a dying relationship. Listening to it now that we’re back together, it’s kind of cathartic in a weird way.

Do you write differently now, knowing there’s a huge audience waiting?
Fortunately, we have a few things going for us. We’ve been pretty genre-less since the beginning, so whereas some bands get pigeonholed, we’re able to be all over the gamut. I love big melodies and poppy songs; the only rock I listened to was Rage Against the Machine and Minor Threat. I enjoy writing pop music and I want to write big pop songs.

Mastered for iTunes
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About Imagine Dragons

Rising from the Nevada desert in the late 2000s, rock outfit Imagine Dragons quickly became one of the most popular American bands of the 2010s with their blend of arena rock energy and catchy pop choruses. Winning their first Grammy Award in 2014 for the hit single "Radioactive" from their debut album, Night Visions, Imagine Dragons remained near the top of the charts for much of the 2010s, topping the Billboard 200 with 2015's Smoke + Mirrors. As their percussion-heavy sound shifted more toward radio-friendly, stadium-ready anthems, they secured worldwide favor with 2017's Grammy-nominated Evolve.

The Las Vegas-based group had its genesis in Provo, Utah, where vocalist Dan Reynolds met drummer Andrew Tolman while the two attended Brigham Young University. In 2009, the group, which by this time included guitarist Daniel Wayne Sermon, bass player Ben McKee, and Tolman's wife Brittany Tolman on keys and backing vocals, had made a name for itself regionally and relocated to Reynolds' hometown of Las Vegas to record a pair of well-received EPs (Imagine Dragons and Hell and Silence) at the Killers' Battle Born Studios. A third EP, It's Time, arrived the following year and helped land the group a record deal with Interscope. The Tolmans parted ways with the group prior to the Interscope deal, and Daniel Platzman took over on drums.

In 2012, Imagine Dragons hit it big with the Continued Silence EP and their debut long-player, Night Visions, the latter of which debuted at the number two spot on the Billboard 200 and landed the group multiple awards -- it later went double platinum in the U.S., largely on the smash success of the Grammy-winning hit "Radioactive," which became the biggest-ever digital rock track in America. During 2013, two other hits followed: "Demons" in the U.S. and "On Top of the World" elsewhere. The group spent the bulk of 2014 finishing its second album. Co-produced by Alex da Kid, Smoke + Mirrors arrived in February 2015 and debuted at number one, buoyed by the singles "I Bet My Life" and "Shots." The band toured often between June of 2015 and February of 2016, eventually releasing the concert set Smoke + Mirrors Live, recorded in 2015 at a sold-out Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

They took a well-deserved break in 2016, making only a few sporadic forays into the studio to record three songs for soundtracks: "Not Today" for Me Before You, "Sucker for Pain" for Suicide Squad, and "Levitate" for Passengers. Imagine Dragons also recorded songs for their third proper album, releasing the lead single "Believer" in January 2017. The album, entitled Evolve, was released that June. As the name suggested, it saw the band continuing to change, emphasizing EDM-flavored pop and positive attitudes that translated to the hit singles "Whatever It Takes" and "Thunder." In early 2018, the band teamed up with R&B singer Khalid for a mashup of their respective hits "Thunder" and "Young Dumb & Broke." That summer, they released the stand-alone single "Natural." ~ James Christopher Monger

ORIGIN
Las Vegas, NV
FORMED
2009

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