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For Imagine Dragons, success feels like 'a miracle'

4:24 PM, Dec 26, 2013   |    comments
Imagine Dragons perform onstage during the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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By Korina Lopez

Last holiday season was cold and lonely for Imagine Dragons. "On Jan. 1, we were performing in Alaska for just a handful of people," says guitarist Wayne "Wing" Sermon. "It was minus 20 degrees and I remember thinking, 'How did we get here?' "

A year later, the Las Vegas rockers' career outlook is decidedly sunnier.

Hit single Radioactive earned Imagine Dragons two Grammy Award nominations, one for record of the year and one for rock performance. "I was asleep on a tour bus somewhere in Spain (when Grammy nominations were announced)," frontman Dan Reynolds told USA TODAY in an e-mail. "I awoke to find a bunch of text messages from family and friends congratulating me. I just sat in my bunk and stared at my phone in disbelief."

The group was overlooked for new artist, but "we weren't surprised," says Sermon, because debut album Night Visions was released in 2012.

"We've been a band for almost five years now, so I don't think any of us would have expected or even fully understood what it meant to be called a 'new artist,' " Reynolds adds.

Being nominated in any category is certainly one off the bucket list and the guys are excited to perform at the Jan. 26 Grammy show with Kendrick Lamar.

"(He) approached us at the American Music Awards about playing together. It was an easy thing to say yes to," says Sermon. "It's a chance to do something different and out of the box for us, too. We won't be too disappointed if we don't win a Grammy, just as long as our performance goes well. It's the only thing we've got control over, so we're focusing mostly on that."

In the meantime, the bandmates are taking a few days off to relax before they resume their breakneck pace. They'll celebrate their stellar year with a hometown gig at Hard Rock Hotel on Monday, with The Mowgli's and Parade of Lights opening for them. The group will kick off 2014 at the Allstate Fan Fest before the Sugar Bowl in New Orleanson Jan. 1. The show also will be streamed live. "All my brothers are athletic, and I was always the sad, less talented kid," says Sermon. "So the fact that we're going to do something like the Sugar Bowl gives me cred with them. And that's really the most important thing, to look cool to my older brothers."

The events of the past year are a lot to absorb for a band that has gone from competing with the clamor of casino slot machines to playing sold-out shows on its own headlining tour.

During Imagine Dragons' early shows, the group spread the word by leavingfree CDs for tourists. Night Visions has sold 1.7 million copies in the USA, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's album chart.

"Honestly, it just doesn't feel real. It's as shocking now as it was then," says Sermon. "That people keep coming out to our shows, wait for hours to see us, get sitters for the night, know all our lyrics - it's a miracle."

The band is working on new music for second album. "We're always writing, that never stops," says Sermon. "But we're not recording it yet. We're still creating, doing it at our own pace."

Reynolds, who has a toddler daughter, Arrow Eve, is ready for 2014. "This last year has been the most intense of my life, but also the most rewarding," he says. "I'll sleep when I die."

USA Today

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