In an interview with Billboard magazine in 2013, soon after his band made it big, Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds said he attributes his success to two things: His “Las Vegas luck” as a child of the gambling capital and one cardinal rule.
“We never said ‘no’ to anything,” he said.
That rule can be the answer to critics who tried to push him, when the international tour dates were announced, to make political decisions about where the band should perform. Reynolds and other members of the American pop-rock giants have not responded to a petition from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement to boycott Israel.
Instead, the band is set to perform to a massive crowd of Israeli fans next Tuesday at Hayarkon Park, and let their music do the talking for them.
Ignoring calls to relocate shows
They have also ignored calls from a singer of Armenian descent to cancel their September 2 show in Baku, Azerbaijan. System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian argued that the band performing in Azerbaijan’s capital would “lend credibility to the country’s ruling elite and serve to help whitewash their repressive regime.”
Using the hashtag #ImagineEndingApartheid, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights led an unsuccessful pressure campaign against the band, saying that “the Israeli government uses such concerts to cover up its human rights violations, making artists complicit in artwashing apartheid.”
Since their 2012 debut, Nightvisions, and on through five more studio albums that have won them more and more accolades, the Las Vegas-based Imagine Dragons have built their reputation on songs. The best of them – “Believer,” “Demons,” “It’s time,” “Whatever it takes,” and “Radioactive” – all have powerful, upbeat, and empowering lyrics that resonate with fans in Israel and around the world.
“Since I was very young, I would listen to their songs and they would help me through tough times,” said Tamar Shiloni, 12, of Jerusalem, who will be attending the show.
Sixteen-year-old actress Hodayah Dardik, an Oakland native who lives in Neve Daniel, said: “My dad would always play their songs while I was growing up, and I love them to this day.”
Reynolds was born in Las Vegas to a family of nine kids and formed the band while in college. He wrote one of his hit songs, “I bet my life,” to reflect his relationship with his parents.
Imagine Dragons has sold more than 74 million albums and 65 million digital songs worldwide. Released in September 2012, the band’s debut album, Night Visions, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Since hitting it big, the band’s other members have been guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman.
In the Billboard interview, Reynolds said they “over-thought” everything, including the band’s name, which is an anagram of “a phrase that meant something to all of us.” The original phrase is still a secret.
They have been playing across Europe in recent weeks, stopping in Paris, Budapest, Vilnius, and Warsaw. After their Tuesday performance here, they will head to Athens and Berlin before returning to Las Vegas.
“This is what we live for as a band – playing to an audience that’s never seen us before,” Reynolds said.