Fresh off a world tour, Imagine Dragons ‘coming home’ for New Year’s show

It’s been a whirlwind past couple of years for Las Vegas band Imagine Dragons. Their debut studio album, “Night Visions,” spent more than a year on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 2 on the charts. The band has been on the road for the past two years, with only short breaks in Las Vegas.

Now the group returns to their hometown to perform at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Dec. 30. spoke with Imagine Dragon’s lead vocalist Dan Reynolds about their upcoming show, life on the road, their next album and Las Vegas.

How’s the world tour going?

It’s pretty exhilarating, pretty crazy. I think a little overwhelming probably would be the word. Very overwhelming, very wonderful, everything we could have hoped for, a little scary at times – a little bit of everything.

Overwhelming in what sense?

It was never like this in our first four years, and now it’s like, every show is sold out and the fans are just crazy. To go to an award show and win an (American Music) award (for Favorite Artist – Alternative Rock). It’s just very overwhelming and kind of hard to take in and process. I think we just feel very grateful, but it’s just one of those things you always dream about maybe, but I never thought it would be like this. It’s just crazy.

Any favorite places you’ve hit so far that really stand out to you?

It’s hard to really pick one. There’s so many beautiful cities. We were just in Vienna and that was amazing; Prague – amazing. It’s so hard to pick favorites, just because we’ve seen so many places in the world right now. Those are two cities I just went to that are really cool.

You guys have a lot of fans in Asia, too. Do you anticipate going there soon?

Imagine Dragons heading to Spain after their show in Padova, Italy.

Yeah. We went over to Japan recently, but we have a lot of other areas that we need to get to that there are fans. Hopefully next year sometime we’ll get over there. I mean, it’s just so hard. We’re trying to get everywhere right now. Just to schedule it all and also take time to try and be a normal person. We’ve been on the road now for two years straight. Haven’t really been home to Vegas. We also want to come home for a little bit, you know?

What’s next for Imagine Dragons?

I think what’s next for us is probably to come home. We have the rest of this tour and I come home in December and then we’re going to play New Years in Vegas, which I’m excited for, and then we have the arena tour in the United States, which is the last tour for “Night Visions,” in February and March. Then we’ll probably take some time for ourselves and write a little bit. I think we’re going to do some writing in Vegas. We just bought a house there for the band that we’re transferring into a studio that we’re going to do the second album in. We’re just going to take our time and make sure we don’t rush anything.

Why is it important to you to do your writing here in Las Vegas? Aren’t you guys from Utah?

Actually, that’s just a misconception. The guitarist is from Utah, and I went to school there, but with this lineup of the band, we started in Vegas. So, yeah, Vegas is home for us. We discussed possibly recording it somewhere else, going out in the woods somewhere in mid America, but it just didn’t feel right. What feels honest for us is Vegas. That’s where we wrote our first album and our EPs. It just feels like home and we love this city and we love the feeling that we get from living in the city and it inspires us to write the music that we write. I think it was really important to us to stay in Vegas.

Imagine Dragons started out playing in casinos and doing any gigs you could get. Is there any special significance to playing The Joint?

Definitely. We didn’t want to do a New Years show anywhere else. We told management, if we’re going to do a New Years show, it’s going to be Vegas, period, end of story, just because it feels like the completion of a lot of work and a way to kind of spend time with family on New Years and celebrate the last two years.

Spotify recently named “Radioactive” as the most streamed track of 2013. The song, I read somewhere, is about the Nevada Test Site. Is that right?

(laughs) Really? No, no. That’s not true. That’s a rumor. I like for people to interpret songs for however they see it to fit, but the song is more of a personal song about a struggle, my own personal struggle, with depression and anxiety, in a nonliteral sense and more imagery. There’s people who hear it and think about the apocalypse literally, and the Nevada Test Site? That’s the first I’ve heard of that. That’s pretty funny, though. Who knows, maybe it’s about that. I’ll let them think that it is.

Are there any of your songs that pay homage to Las Vegas?

For sure. There’s a lot of references to Vegas throughout the whole album. Even in the first single, “It’s Time,” it talks about the city that never sleeps at night and never wanting to leave the city. I mean, there’s a lot of references to Vegas throughout the whole album. I think even the feeling of the album, it kind of has that eccentric over-the-top feeling of Vegas. In a lot of ways we really try to encompass the city into the album, because it played a big process in becoming who we were as a band. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Vegas. They supported us. The casinos supported us and helped us stay alive in our early years.

Does your LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) faith and that of your bandmates shape your music?

Wayne is (LDS), but the other ones aren’t. The other members of the band are atheist and agnostic, and we all respect each other for all our different opinions and we just create music that inspires us. It’s really never anything to do with religion and anything like that. Or nonreligion or whatever. I don’t think we ever want to do anything to make people feel like – I don’t know. We don’t pretend to know answers. We’re just trying to live our own lives and create music. The music is about what we are inspired by in the world.

Since things have changed so quickly for Imagine Dragons, are you finding new inspiration for your music?

Yeah, I think so. Seeing the world has definitely been inspiring to me, lyrically. The architecture, hearing the different world music, meeting different people, hearing their stories, seeing all these cultures. It’s just so inspiring. And playing in front of crowds of 100,000 people, like I said, it’s really been a whole year that’s kind of felt both exhilarating and wonderful and scary and lonely. It’s been a little bit of everything. All those emotions I’ve been riding a lot and I know it will definitely find its way into the lyrics and the music.

Las Vegas seems to be a good starting ground for bands, most obviously you, The Killers and Panic! at the Disco has been doing well. There seems to be some momentum.

I think there’s a ton of great artists in Vegas. It’s been overlooked, honestly. I feel like there’s a great art scene here. I always went to First Friday and was taken aback by all the great bands and the different local artists. They’re there, but they are just kind of overlooked, because the city is so driven by the tourism, which is cool, the Strip is awesome, I love that about Vegas, but there’s also a whole art scene in Vegas. And now, people coming in and reworking downtown, and bringing in all this real culture to Vegas, I think it’s just about time. I feel like there’s a lot of momentum with Vegas and there’s going to be a lot more bands that come out of Vegas. Good things will come. I feel like the momentum is definitely on Vegas’ side.

What was your impression of the first Life is Beautiful festival?

I thought it was amazing. I think for a first-time festival, we played a lot of first-time festivals, and that was the most organized first-time festival I’ve seen. It seemed to go seamlessly. The crowd seemed great. I feel like it marked the beginning of a lot of new developments in Vegas and the new culture that’s coming to Vegas that has needed to be there for a long time. It was great. It’s just the beginning. That festival is just going to continue to grow and grow.

What are you looking forward to the most when you perform on the 30th?

It’s so hard to pick a song because every night is different. It’s whatever emotion you’re feeling that night. I think “Nothing Left to Say” will be a pretty appropriate song to play on New Years in Vegas after all of this (laughs). But, on the same note, we’ll be leaving right after that for our arena tour, so apparently there is more to say. I’m excited to see family and friends. I feel like I’ve really neglected my family and friends in the last past couple years because things have been so insane, I just haven’t had any time to really connect. It will be good to reconnect with people in Vegas.

So, it will be a reunion of sorts.

For sure. Like a coming home show. We feel very grateful to Vegas. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Vegas supporting us from so early on as a small local act that was playing at the Beauty Bar and Bunkhouse and Caesars Palace and Mandalay Bay and O’Sheas. We feel like we’ve taken a part of Vegas with us. Vegas is the reason we made it to where we are. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Vegas. We love our hometown and we hope to continue to do it justice.