“It’s been overwhelming, but in all the good ways,” the band’s drummer Daniel Platzman tells Billboard of their year. “2017 was a massive year for us. To release Evolve, to get the response we got just blew us away – we were not expecting it. I’m honestly scared that 2018, if it’s any better, my heart will just explode with joy.”
To cap off such an incredible year – which also included a hometown performance at the Vegas Strong benefit concert that raised $700,000 and raising more than $1 for their own organization, the Tyler Robinson Foundation – Imagine Dragons is closing out 2017 with a performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve live from the Allstate Fan Fest in New Orleans.
“It feels right,” Platzman says. “The only thing that could possibly ruin this is if I have no self control and just stuff myself with Café Du Monde beignets. I have a feeling my 2018 New Year’s resolution will be no more beignets – but I will break it every time I go back to New Orleans.”
Before they head back to New Orleans in 2018, the Imagine Dragons guys will be stopping in New York to see if they won one (or both) of the two Grammys they’re nominated for – in the pop category this time around, as opposed to rock despite having a best rock performance Gramophone for “Radioactive.”
Ahead of Imagine Dragons’ NYE performance, Billboard chatted with Platzman about some of his group’s biggest highlights as well as the rather surprising result of the 2018 Grammy nominations – which he insists weren’t actually all that surprising. Take a look at what he had to say below.
You’re closing out the last month of the year with an awesome show, but you started it with the Vegas Strong benefit concert – what were some of your favorite memories from that?
Getting to share a microphone with Teller of Penn & Teller and all-star Bryce Harper, Ben McKee, Wayne Newton, Carrot Top there, Kurt Bush — it was great. Boyz II Men put on an amazing performance, [and] David Copperfield. And not to mention it’s the first time we’ve shared the stage with The Killers who are Vegas royalty, they put Vegas on the map. I think my ears are still ringing from Ronnie Vannucci’s amazing drumming. To see that we raised $700,000 for the victims fund — there were some really heartbreaking stories there, so to be able to give back there in our community means the world to us.
Before you released Evolve in June, did you think that it would become as big as it did?
Any time that the four of us, who come from such different backgrounds, agree that something works, we know that we’re on to something special. But with that said, no – we had no idea we were going to get that kind of response.
When “Believer” came out, especially, and really set the stage for what Evolve was going to do, it was clear to us that something really special had happened. We were just kind of bracing ourselves [Laughs].
Were you thinking it leaned a little more pop than rock? Or were you guys pretty surprised to see the album and “Thunder” nominated in pop Grammy categories?
Nothing really surprises us with genre anymore. I think genre has never meant less than it has in 2017 and onwards. I think it just comes down to the fact that today’s listener is very sophisticated and has heard everything – it’s just a game changer. It’s like if you only had a couple of colors, but then suddenly you saw the whole spectrum.
I love that people experience our music in a way that they want to call it rock. It doesn’t offend us. And it doesn’t offend us if people enjoy us and want to call it pop, that’s fine. There’s some places where they literally described us as guitar music because there’s guitar in it [Laughs].
Was there anything you did differently in the studio that you think may have resulted in a more pop sound?
I would have to point at the fact that we did experiment with working with producers. Smoke + Mirrors, we self-produced and we had our own studio for the first time. It was such a pioneering experience for us in the studio and by the end of it to come out for this record and say, “You know, that was a lot to handle the last time, what if we had some producers come in and let them be the one to say ‘You’ve recorded enough bass drums and snare drums, you don’t need to layer 40 of them on top of another – maybe let’s move on to something else.’” It was a really freeing experience for us, it was so much fun.
We always worked with Alex Da Kid, but this time we also worked with Matt Man and Robin, John Hill, just to name a few. It was so much fun in the studio. It [wasn’t] a conscious effort to change our locations on the genre spectrum that may or may not exist [Laughs]. It was purely a “this sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun,” and it was.
And clearly it resonated with fans. Do you have any sort of takeaway from seeing fans respond to the album the way they did?
I think at the end of the day, it’s just more important than ever to just be true to yourself and make music. For us, make music that we can stand behind that we’re proud of, and that’s absolutely the case with all of our records. With Evolve, we were super proud of it. We finally came to a healthier mindset where we really weren’t listening to what the critics were saying if they were saying things, or not even reading those negative things that were out there – just really being secure in who were are and comfortable with us. I think that’s the takeaway, because we feel very comfortable in our own skin.
That would make winning a Grammy pretty special then.
There’s so many amazing people nominated for Grammys – [winning] would be great, but it’s not really the thing that’s going to make or break our 2018. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will say we definitely have some tricks up our sleeve for 2018. And that does include more than nearly touring the world and getting to take Imagine Dragons to audiences that have never seen us before. For me it’s all about the live shows, so 2018 is going to be a massive year.