Imagine Dragons members feel the impact of stardom


Imagine Dragons. With Metric and Halsey. 7:30 p.m. July 14. $29.50-$69.50. Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000,

In a time when rock bands have struggled to sell albums and get radio play, Imagine Dragons quickly hit the forefront of the music scene.

The Las Vegas-based group’s 2012 major label debut, “Night Visions,” caught on in a big way. With three multi-chart hit singles — “Radioactive” (which won a Grammy for best rock performance), “It’s Time” and “Demons” — “Night Visions” became 2013’s fourth best-selling album. And, as Imagine Dragons continued to build momentum in 2014, the band won top rock album honors at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, one of 14 nominations they received from Billboard magazine.

The band appears to be sustaining its success with its recently released follow-up, “Smoke + Mirrors.” The album debuted at No. 1 upon its release in February (with first-week sales of 172,000 copies) and the singles “Shots” and “I Bet My Life” have been Top 10 rock hits.

Imagine Dragons, on tour to promote the album, visits Philips Arena Tuesday.

Going from being virtually unknown to one of rock’s biggest bands in the space of just a couple of years was obviously quite the whirlwind. While the success felt very rewarding, bassist Ben McKee said it also changed the lives of the band members in ways that were not so welcome or easy.

“It’s definitely been a struggle to keep any kind of connection to people,” he said in a phone interview. “Over the last few years of touring, there’s really been a detachment from the people who were my close friends. I haven’t gotten to see my family as much. And it was definitely hard. You kind of have to turn off the part of yourself that is a person and just get into the motion of the machine. … It makes you miss that sort of normal life that you crave, but you just don’t get, when you’re on the road.”

The band member who probably struggled most with life in a fast-rising rock group was singer Dan Reynolds.

“I think it was extra hard for Dan, also having a kid and a wife,” McKee said. “His (first) child was born right in the middle of everything going completely insane. I think he got to go and be there for like the day before and the day after his child was born, and then he had to go and fly away for a weekend to do (promotion) in Europe.”

Reynolds has detailed some of his struggles in interviews, and the lyrics on “Smoke + Mirrors” reflect the roller-coaster ride of emotions that came with Imagine Dragons’ rise to arena-filling popularity.

On some songs (“Hopeless Opus” and “Shots”), he blames himself for relationships damaged or lost. He hints at feeling depressed on “It Comes Back to You.” Reynolds also ponders success on “Gold,” questioning who and what he can trust “when everything turns to gold.”

In approaching the challenge of following up on the success of “Night Visions,” the group members — McKee, Reynolds, Wayne Sermon (guitar) and Atlanta native Dan Platzman (drums) — set things up so the making of the album could be as pressure-free as possible and there would be ample time to experiment musically.

“With ‘Smoke + Mirrors,’ we bought a house in Las Vegas,” McKee explained. “We turned it into a recording studio and we moved in there for six months, eight months. But, besides that, we had been writing demos on the road.”

McKee said the group’s headlining sets this summer include most, if not all, of the “Smoke + Mirrors” songs, plus a good helping of material from “Night Visions.” He said he also thinks the band is presenting a more cohesive show, where the visual production complements the music.

“During the two and a half years we were on the road with that album (“Night Visions”), we kept upping the size of the venues we were playing and we kept on having to kind of play catch-up and figure out a way to make our production grow while we were on tour,” he said. “But, with ‘Smoke + Mirrors,’ we knew we were going to be starting at a bigger place and had the opportunity to put more time into crafting production to go with the album, to create a … whole kind of landscape for this music to live in.”