Imagine Dragons on Loving Halsey, New Tour Film - Rolling Stone
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Imagine Dragons on Loving Halsey, Learning From Paul Simon, New Tour Film

Watch trailer for ‘Imagine Dragons in Concert: Smoke + Mirrors’

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Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds reflects on the band's ongoing 'Smoke + Mirrors' tour and previews an upcoming concert film in a new interview.

Patricia Seaton

On March 2nd, Imagine Dragons fans who missed out on the band’s 2015 tour can experience the next best thing. That night, at 7:30 p.m. local time, Fathom Events presents a cinematic recap of the band’s massive Toronto show — performed for an audience of 15,000 — during their tour in support of last year’s Smoke + Mirrors. The film will not only unite fans across North America; it will also stand as a testament to the incredible production values featured on Imagine Dragons’ most recent world trek. Watch the exclusive trailer below. 

Singer Dan Reynolds recently spoke with Rolling Stone about the film, Smoke + Mirrors tour opener Halsey and the band’s tight-knit fan community before Imagine Dragons embarked on the short final leg of their world tour. “We put out an album that hit hard, and I really feel like we have a community now from touring pretty relentlessly for eight years,” he said. “I honestly feel like social media has been really important to us to help us really feel close to our fans, even though we haven’t met.”

What made you guys decide to release this concert film as one-night-only event for your fans?
We always wanted to do this, but we just finally were able to put it together and felt like this tour really had kind of a special vibe to it. We worked with the Moment Factory, a really, really rad production company, and we put together a show that felt really special. We wanted to capture it and figured it’d be really cool to do it in a setting where fans could come together and go into a theater and experience something like that. Our fans are a close community even though they’re spread out around the world. Twitter makes it so that people that haven’t ever met grow friendships together. I thought this would be a cool way to bring people together who are in similar cities and may have met each other on Twitter because of the band.

Will the band be making appearances at any of the theaters?
I can’t say any specifics on that because we don’t know the specifics yet, but yes, we are definitely going to go see it with some fans in at least one location. I actually think it will be a few locations, but I couldn’t tell you which locations those were.

What made this tour in particular so special for the band?
This record in particular was a special record to all of us. It translated well live just because it’s a really dynamic album. Like, Night Visions was really fun to play live, but I don’t feel like it translated as well live as Smoke + Mirrors did, particularly because we tracked a lot of this album live. A lot of the songs were just played as a band in a studio as opposed to Night Visions [where] a lot of it was just kind of put together.

It’s just a really emotional album and vulnerable. For me, it made it more real every night to be able to get on stage. I didn’t feel like I had to perform. It came easier ’cause I was able to get behind the songs and the lyrics because they were real things that I was going through. Whereas with Night Visions, I wrote that over four years, so sometimes songs didn’t feel relevant to me anymore. Smoke + Mirrors just translated particularly well live because of the vulnerability of the album. 

It’s incredibly rare to see a band get as big as Imagine Dragons has within a few years. How was it to transition to stadiums and arenas for this last tour?
We’ve been a band now for eight years, and the longer you’re together the more you know each other as musicians and the better it feels on stage. It’s incredible as this young of a band to be playing arenas. We also spent four years playing in tiny clubs to no people and also knew that feeling together as a band. We’ve gone through a lot together, whether it was getting robbed together or living together in a house for three years or just being poor and taking any gigs we could get to make money.

We really had the appreciation to be able to have fans come out. I can think of so many times we played tours that were not sold out and in 100-capacity rooms, and you look out and there are like 20 people in the room and you’re kind of embarrassed to get onstage. I think every band needs to go through that in order to really appreciate playing to 15,000 people every night around the world. I feel like if we skipped that first step and then slowly moving up to bigger clubs and going through those stages, it would’ve gotten to our heads, and I think we wouldn’t have appreciated as much.

You mentioned the fan community. How did you guys translate that intimacy that you guys experience with your fans to an arena performance?
I remember my first time playing in a bigger venue, and I was actually quite afraid that it wouldn’t be as intimate because all I knew for four years was just clubs. Surprisingly enough, it somehow retained a level community. The word that I would use for arenas and amphitheaters and even theaters is more like a community feeling. It’s thousands of people, but somehow you all feel very connected, and when everybody is singing along with the same words, even if you can’t see everybody’s face, you feel everybody’s energy, as long as it’s a good show [laughs].

I can’t remember who [said this] but early on in my career we played with a band and the singer had played much bigger venues, and he told me that whenever he gets onstage, he would make a real effort to look everybody in the eye at least within the front row and find a connection with them, and that would always help him get more into the music. I always try to do that.

Imagine Dragons

One really great testament to the type of relationship that your band has with your fans is seen in Halsey, who recently shared how much your music meant to her while she was hospitalized for psychiatric care while in high school. Since she joined you on this tour, what was it like to experience that real-time effect of your music on someone who is now starting to blow up on their own?
Halsey is such a cool girl — a very, very strong woman and a real artist. [I have] a ton of respect for her. She is super humble. She came on the tour and was extremely grateful and had no ego, which she totally could have had because she blew up really quickly, even quicker than us. She was just totally down to earth, and I really enjoyed that tour and enjoyed hanging out with her. She became best friends with my three-year-old daughter, and she would bring her little gifts and bunnies and was such a sweetheart.

Of course, [her fandom] means a ton. Any time that your music means something to an artist that you really respect and think is a wonderful human being means a great deal. I absolutely love Halsey, and it means a great deal.

I know that you guys still have more shows coming up earlier this year, but what’s the plan for the rest of the year for Imagine Dragons? Are you going to start working on your third album?
We are going to take some serious time off [laughs]. I’ll be in Eastern Europe for three weeks, and those are the final dates. Within the last year, we’ve done South America and North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, so this will be the final part of the world tour, and it’s been absolutely incredible and more than we ever could have dreamed it to be, especially on the second album. When you have fans coming out on the second album, it really feels like, “OK, now we have a community and it’s real.”

We don’t have any plans to go into the studio or anything like that. I mean, we’re always writing just because that’s what we do. It’s our hobby. But, yeah, I don’t know. … I don’t even know when we’ll be in the studio.

What are some of your favorite concert films or live shows?
Paul Simon’s Graceland, period. Actually, I love all of Paul Simon’s music. His live show, to me, is one of the best live shows that I’ve ever seen, and I had a DVD of [a Graceland concert] that I held on to forever, and that I feel is always inspirational to me. Bruce Springsteen plays a huge impact on my live performance.

Honestly the only DVD that I’ve had though was Paul Simon. For Graceland, he had so much world influence, and he brought it onstage with him. I felt like it always made the world feel like a smaller place in a lot of ways — bringing a lot of different peoples and cultures together, and that has always been my goal. That’s been the goal of Imagine Dragons: to be a world band. It’s such a broad vision. When we were nobody, we never thought “our dream is to be a world band.” Your dream is just to fill up a club when you’re nobody.

But, honestly, from the beginning, we really did want to be able to travel the world and get to know different peoples and cultures and bring people together regardless of their religion or where they’re from or whatever kind of music they’re into. Our goal as Imagine Dragons has been to bring people together.

Tickets for the film can be purchased at FathomEvents.comFor fans outside of the U.S., tickets can be found here

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