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Imagine Dragons on stage. Photo: Matt Eastin

Just over a decade ago, when Imagine Dragons were first acquainting themselves with audiences in the U.S. and globally, the media understandably couldn’t quite easily categorize their music.
Bassist Ben McKee says over a Zoom call, “When we would go to a new radio station or be introduced by somebody that didn’t know much about us, they would look at the name Imagine Dragons and sort of assume we were a metal band, or kind of like a Dream Theater or prog rock thing.”
There’s admittedly some of that in their songs, but as McKee points out diligently, “there’s some of everything” in the Imagine Dragons sound. The music media perhaps would continue to be in a conundrum in summing up the quartet’s style a few chart-topping, billions-streamed albums down, because they draw from rock, pop, R&B, electronic music and more across songs. There are unshakeable stomper tunes like “Believer,” whose grand dramaticism is also heard in songs like “Radioactive,” “Thunder” and more recently, “Sharks” and “Enemy” featuring rapper JID.
They have 32 songs to show for it, with the release of Mercury Act 1 in 2021 and Act 2 in 2022. With songs like “Wrecked,” “Lonely” and “I Don’t Like Myself” there’s a stronger emotional message on their latest material, drawing from frontman Dan Reynolds’ personal experiences of loss, grief and more. McKee says everyone in the band connected to Reynolds’ message “in a different and important way.” He adds, “I think every song on there stands alone as a really strong composition, and really is an effective expression of an honest experience that Dan was having.”
Imagine Dragons are bringing those openhearted experiences and the larger-than-life sound to India this week, headlining day one of the debut Lollapalooza India, held in Mumbai on January 28th and 29th. With the band having played at Lollapalooza editions all around the world, McKee says there’s something special about the gathering and musicians just come out of their shells offstage. “It’s the only festival where the things that people are imagining are happening backstage, actually aren’t happening backstage. Usually at a festival, all the bands are sort of isolated from each other and sort of doing their own thing,” he says.

Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds. Photo: Matt Eastin
McKee promises that experimentation and improvisation abound in every Imagine Dragons set and India will be no different. “There’s always something a little bit different. Maybe Platz [drummer Daniel Platzman] is experimenting with a new drum beat, maybe I’ve decided to throw with new bass fill here or there. We try to switch up the production and have a different stage layout whenever we can. I’m sure we’re going to be inspired once we get there and think of other things that we can do,” he adds.
Like most other international artists we ask, McKee says Imagine Dragons have always wanted to find a way to come to India. “It hasn’t really made sense for us before with our touring because we haven’t had the offer that fit in with everything. We’re really excited that we could make it work with playing the first Lollapalooza India. It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable. I can’t think of a show we’ve been as excited to play in recent history,” the bassist adds. Their prior India connection – apart from being on the cover of Rolling Stone India in 2019 – includes meeting composer-producer Tushar Lall, whose Indian classical-informed rendition of “Believer” caught the band’s attention.
In the true spirit of on-stage collaborations and jams that have occurred at Lollapalooza festivals around the world, we ask McKee if they plan to call on Lall. He says, “You know, that’s an idea that we should probably consider. I don’t think we’ve been as thoughtful as you. Maybe we need to make some phone calls.”
Flying into India as part of their Mercury World Tour, Imagine Dragons are coming in from Bahrain and then heading onwards to South Africa, with debuts in both countries. McKee says they’re going to “try to cram in as much as we can” in all the new territories they are touring. “When we were first touring and touring around the world, I used to just abandon all sleep, stay up all night and go out. I’m a little older now, I can’t quite stay on all night anymore. But I am going to be burning the candle at both ends to get as much culture as I can,” McKee says about experiencing India, South Africa and other new places.
Imagine Dragons performs at Lollapalooza India on January 28th, at Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai. Get tickets here.

#Imagine #Dragons #Speak #India #Debut #Lollapalooza

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