Imagine Dragons: Inside The Secret Origins Of The Band’s Name

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Photo: Faith-Ann Young

Photo: Faith-Ann Young

Since exploding onto the music scene with hit songs “Radioactive” and the recently platinum-certified “It’s Time,” breakout Las Vegas band Imagine Dragons have quickly become one of rock’s brightest new lights. Supporting their melodic and soul-stirring songs with a compelling live show, frontman Dan Reynolds and the rest of Imagine Dragons are poised to be one the biggest new bands of 2013.

While the music of Imagine Dragons is emotionally revealing, there is one small fact the band has chosen to keep to themselves: the true meaning behind their name. On more than one occasion, the guys have mentioned how the Imagine Dragons moniker is actually an anagram made from the letters of different words. They’ve also made a point of keeping those original words a band secret, which has lasted for the four years since they got together.

“We haven’t even told our families,” Reynolds said to Radio.com during an exclusive interview from Anchorage, Alaska, where the band was set to perform a sold-out show. “I don’t know if they’d forgive us if we broke it right now. We’d have to have a big meeting with all of the guys to see if they wanted to do it.”

“At this point, it’s been built up so much that anything we say is going to be a letdown,” added Wayne Sermon, the band’s guitarist. “We might just leave it up to everyone’s imaginations. They probably have better guesses than the real answer.”

Searching for clues, San Francisco music blog TheBayBridged.com got Reynolds to leak that “apostrophes need to be added” when rearranging his band’s name to discover the anagram’s original words, although now he says that might not necessarily be the case.

“That was a misinterpretation, actually,” Reynolds explained. “The writer was asking me if there was an apostrophe or not, and I said there may or may not be an apostrophe.”

Running the words “Imagine Dragons” through an online anagram generator turns up more than 107,000 different combinations of words that can be gleaned from them, including “Adorning Images,” “A Roaming Design” and the especially catchy “Radioman Egg Sin.”

“Some of my favorites to date are guesses from people, not to say they aren’t the actual anagram either, because we never confirm or deny,” laughed Reynolds. “But some of my favorites are ‘A Gemini So Grand,’ maybe because I have friends who are Geminis and I really like them. ‘Roman’s Big Angie’ was a good one.”

“I really liked ‘God Is In The Manger,’” chimed Sermon. “That one put me in some contemplation. The truth of the matter is all of them are better band names than Imagine Dragons. We probably should have went with one of those.”

“To be honest with you, when we were scrambling up the letters to come up with Imagine Dragons, I don’t even remember how we actually decided that was the name,” Reynolds said. “It just kind of stuck. We were just like, ‘yeah, that sounds like a cool name.’ We had a gig like two days later, and there we were.”

“I think it was just the least bad of all the ones we’d come up with,” interjected Sermon.

“We really had a phrase that we all agreed upon, and had meaning to us, particularly as artists.” Reynolds concluded. “We just thought it would be cool to keep something to ourselves, because you’re always exposing yourself as an artist. A lot of times, lyrically I’m writing about things that are really close to home for me, and that’s what music is about. So it’s kind of nice to have one thing just between the four of us. We have our little ritual before we go onstage, and just little things that keep us together. I’m sure the day will come when we’ll finally be like, ‘well, this is what it is, love it or hate it.’ But today is not that day.”

While fans are sure to continue pondering the meaning of the band’s name, there’s no questioning their stratospheric success. Imagine Dragons’ debut album, Night Visions,is already teetering on the brink of gold record status, having moved more than 416,000 copies since being released in early September of 2012.

-Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local

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