Interview with Imagine Dragons: Wayne Sermon and Daniel Platzman
Thu 13th Aug 2015 - 7:28pm
This week I caught up with guitarist Wayne Sermon and drummer Daniel Platzman of the hugely successful band Imagine Dragons! Imagine Dragons is a band famous for their ability to write songs across various sounds and genres. Many of their tracks such as Radioactive and Demons, have been heard by hundreds of millions. Their latest album was elevated to #2 on iTunes within its first week released. I caught up with them to talk about their work with Riot Games and how League of Legends affects their personal lives.
Imagine Dragons (Daniel left, Wayne right) on the Skype call with Team Dignitas
First of all, how did you gentleman come across League of Legends?
Daniel Platzman: It was Dan [Reynolds]. I think they had all just finished playing the new Diablo that had just come out and we were looking for a new game to play. Dan was raving about this game that he had just started playing. I think we were in Denmark when League first affected my life. We had an interview to do and Dan was playing a game and he couldn't explain why he couldn't stop playing the game other than his rank was gonna go down. We were like, "That makes no sense. We have an interview, we gotta go." Of course later when we all started playing we totally understood.
Would you call yourselves avid players of the game?
Daniel Platzman: Well it's definitely the game I play more than anything. I think I have become an avid player of the game, I have certainly spent a lot of money on skins and things. I really enjoy playing even though I suck. I have reached this weird point where the more I play the more I suck, I don't understand it.
Wayne Sermon: Uhmmm for me no. Avid as in 'am I good' or avid as in 'I play a lot?' It's really the only game we play right now, we don't really have time for anything else. We don't even have time to play League really but we make time, so it's the only game we can play.
Daniel Platzman: When we are off tour, and even if we have off time in a hotel, it's one of the few things you can do. I also think it's a good way to keep in touch with my friends. I will log onto League somewhere and hop onto the NA server if I have good wi-fi and see who is online.
Wayne Sermon: We have made friends online and actually got them into shows to meet them in person. Most gamers usually get flak for being isolating and anti-social. But League of Legends is a very social game for us at least.
How do you balance gaming with your touring, do you find it personally important to find time to play?
Daniel Platzman: I think it's a good release. On a bus tour it's usually harder because after a show we will need to get on a bus and drive to another city. After a show I'm all amped up and a few games of League is the best way to wind down. Unless of course we lose and we just get salty and angry *laughs*. It's actually really bad if we play a game before we go on stage because if we lose it just puts us in a bad mood and we will be thinking about the defeat and all the misplays. I'll be onstage just thinking, "UGH windwall, why did I ult into the windwall!"
Do you follow any pro play or LCS? If so do you have any favorite Teams or Players?
Daniel Platzman: Yeah, we have been doing the "celebrity" Fantasy League. I've been following LCS pretty well, our core team isn't doing as well as we hoped. Last split we first picked Piglet and that backfired really hard. His adjustment into the NA was understandably not immediate. We follow teams, I managed to meet Shook from Copenhagen Wolves and Froggen from Elements, we also met Krepo and got to play a few games with him. Personally I find myself watching the EU LCS more than NA. I don't know why but Copenhagen Wolves became this team I watched a lot last season, but now my heart is breaking every week I watch them.
Honestly, I watch LCS then ask myself, "why am I so bad?" Right around the time Urgot mid became a thing I got to meet Bjergsen and somehow I got to play a game with him. He had lost to an Urgot mid the week before and he was about to become "Bjergot," so I got to play with him that week of practice before he played it in the LCS. I find that LCS players are really cool. I got to take a backstage tour of the LA studio during an LCS match one time, that was a lot of fun.
How is it that you came into contact with Riot?
Wayne Sermon: I can't remember whether our manager or Riot reached out first. It was sorta like, "hey can you guys come out to our facilities?" Which we thought was awesome. It was a very mutually awesome experience for us. They caught on that we were actual gamers and not posing as something we're not, and we are actual fans of the game. They were genuine fans of our band so it happened very naturally, it wasn't this forced thing or some PR stunt. It was easy, and those are always the best things.
How closely did you work with Christian Linke and Riot's musical team on "Warriors"?
Daniel Platzman: The musical team at Riot is unbelievable as a music powerhouse. Christian was awesome, we got to hang out with him a bunch. Christian worked super hard on it. It's really crazy just how good and specialized that group of musicians is over at Riot. Christian is the real deal. And he can play violin did you know that? He plays violin, he can shred guitar, he plays the keys, he sight reads music and he can play the fiddle!
Imagine Dragon's collaboration with Riot Games: "Warriors"
How would you guys rate the importance of working with Riot, and why?
Daniel Platzman: It was definitely a huge opportunity for us, especially since we hadn't really done very much in Asia and that part of the world. To have your first gig in Seoul be a packed Fifa world stadium with 120 local musicians debuting a song for the world championship was pretty sweet. We had just finished our work on the Transformers movie with "Battle Cry" which was on Chinese radio, so these two things laid the groundwork for our first Asian tour which we are doing this year.
Was it always planned that Imagine Dragons would go to Seoul or was that a later decision?
Wayne Sermon: No it wasn't planned at all. All the discussion about the song which we had done for awhile was completely separate. It wasn't until a few months later that they asked us if we wanted to play the song live at the world championships. It was pretty much a no brainer for us, it was an obvious yes.
Daniel Platzman: That experience was so cool! We actually got to go to a PC bang and play on the Korean server and get absolutely destroyed. People were like Flashing under your turret at lvl 2 and killing you, it was horrifying.
Wayne Sermon: You can't blame it on lag either because you have like 7 ping. But it was really cool actually, I wish the US was more this way, Going out to game is like on par with going to see a movie or going bowling in the states. Rather than go to the movie theater people are like, "hey let's go to the PC bang and order some nachos and play some games together." I love the social aspect of it, it's so embraced over there. I just wish it was more mainstream in the US, I think it's kinda strange that it isn't.
I know live television is still something that makes you guys nervous. What did the performance at the 2014 World Championship feel like?
Daniel Platzman: I didn't conceive how many people were gonna be watching us. I think it was the largest performance we have ever done. I can't remember the exact number of people but I think it was over 20 million. I just know it was an absurd number of millions of people that were watching that performance. I definitely did not understand how big that audience was going to be. That is probably for the best. However the truth is that unless we have a reason to be nervous, performing is the most comfortable position for us. We are in our natural habitat with our instruments in our hand. Talking or doing any number of other things is way more nerve racking for us.
Imagine Dragons live in Seoul for the League of Legends 2014 world Championships.
What has your overall experience with the League of Legends community been like? Whether it be staff, pro players, or fans who play the game.
Wayne Sermon: It's been awesome. I feel like there is the vocal minority that can be very salty but I really feel that most people who play the game are good people. I don't think the majority of the players are toxic but the loud minority creates a sort of, "the squeeky wheel gets the grease," kind of thing. As far as pro players go they are all super nice, everyone at Riot has been so awesome to work with and the players that we've met really love the game and have been awesome.
Daniel Platzman: I have definitely made some great friends just from working through Riot, friends I hope I will have forever. We feel like music nerds, but even though League wasn't around when we were kids, if it was we would have played it.
So does this mean that Phreak has entered your lives as the reigning champion of puns?
Daniel Platzman: Yea he is pretty good with the puns. We are pretty good with puns too but Phreak is a Riot he's so funny.
Wayne Sermon: And did you know that going seven days without puns makes one week?
What is the rank of everybody in the band?
Daniel Platzman: Ohhhh shame... Ring the bell, I am actually bronze, I am still bronze. I think I'm technically bronze IV. I managed to go 6-4 in my placements but I got placed bronze V. Then I worked all the way up to bronze III and went 2-3 in my series twice then plummeted back down to bronze IV. I have been changing champions ever since then, I still haven't found it yet.
Wayne Sermon: Dan and I played for like a whole day straight on the South American server and got to platinum. In NA I have a silver and a gold account, and I think Dan hovers a gold.
Daniel Platzman: Dan has a pretty good Wukong game. He doesn't like tank Wukong either, he likes to build damage then show up late to the party and then ults everyone.
What is everyone's favorite champion?
Daniel Platzman: I still love Varus personally, you just get a Tear on him and you become the most annoying poke monster ever.
Wayne Sermon: I like broken supports like Leona and Soraka--
Daniel Platzman: I forgot to say that support Nunu is still a favorite of mine. Unless you're against a Sivir it's like the trolliest troll move you can pull. I think it's more troll than Teemo support. My goal as Nunu is just spamming the laugh, it's as important as helping my adc because it tilts the other players.
How much time do you think you have spent on the game since you started?
Daniel Platzman: A lot...I have three different accounts but on the one I play the most I think I have 400 wins. I put the time in.
In your interview at the 2014 World Championships, Dan mentioned that you guys were once late on stage because you were finishing a game of League. Did you win that game?
Daniel Platzman: Yes. Thank god because if we had not won that game then we would have had to go onstage late and salty which would have been awful. League is like any sport, when it goes into overtime and it's down to the wire, it's the worst feeling to lose one of those games.
Have you ever disclosed who you were to someone ingame?
Wayne Sermon: Hmm... No I don't think I have.
Daniel Platzman: I have not but I feel like Dan had a name that had Imagine Dragons in it once. Someone started talking smack and at the end of the game he was like, "by the way I am the lead singer in that band!"
Last but not least, who is the best League of Legends player in the band, and who is the most likely to feed?
Daniel Platzman: Dan is probably the best, and I am the most likely to feed. But that is only because I would probably be playing top, and ya know, top is an island. I am probably the biggest feeder still, I am still trying to get this Azir game down though because if I can play him well then I can play top.
Thank you gentleman so much for joining us here! Was a privilege to have you guys shed some light on how you balance League of Legends with fame. If you, by some strange chain of events, have not heard of these guys please check out their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Please also follow Wayne and Daniel on Twitter!