Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds has the MMA vibe.
Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds is a longtime mixed martial arts fan who always wanted to meet his MMA hero. Earlier this summer, he got his chance, but it wasn’t the impression he wanted to leave.
“I was at a gas station,” says the 26-year-old singer. “Someone had been in the men’s bathroom for a very long time, so I went into the women’s bathroom. When I walked out, guess who’s standing there? Chuck Liddell, with this disapproving look on his face. I tried to clumsily explain myself, but to no avail. It was pretty embarrassing.”
Although the musician chuckles in disbelief, it’s a memory that he’ll never forget. Reynolds has always been a Liddell fan, but he began to follow the sport of MMA more intently in 2006 when he got hooked on The Ultimate Fighter 3, featuring coaches Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz.
“Honestly, I don’t think there’s a season of TUF that I haven’t been excited about,” says Reynolds. “It really opens up your eyes when you get to know the fighters on a more personal level and get to see their passion and love for the sport. For instance, on TUF 17, I was just blown away by Jon Jones’ character. He seemed like such a leader and down to earth. It gave me this appreciation for a fighter I didn’t really care for before. I became a huge fan of Jones. So every season, you get to see these fighters at a deeper level.”
Reynolds, who is a proud Las Vegas resident, has an even deeper appreciation for the sport’s athletes, having witnessed firsthand the athleticism and work ethic involved in becoming a mixed martial artist.
“Some of my buddies have started getting into jiu-jitsu, and I have really gotten to see the discipline behind that and the real art behind it,” Reynolds says. “MMA is not just dudes throwing punches. There is art and technique to it. It’s going to keep growing in popularity because there’s so much depth to it and so much heart in the sport.”
Despite his “Iceman” bathroom incident, Reynolds is having the time of his life, as he and the rest of his bandmates from Imagine Dragons have embarked on a world tour in support of their platinum-selling debut album Night Visions. Released in September 2012, Night Visions is an 11-track indie rock collection packed with commanding instrumentation and an atmospheric flare.
The LP has produced an assortment of breakout singles, including “It’s Time,” “Hear Me,” “On Top of the World,” and “Demons.” But it’s their hypnotic mega hit “Radioactive” that has made history. The track topped the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart for 23 consecutive weeks and the Billboard Rock Airplay for 24 weeks.
Although indie rock isn’t normally associated with MMA, Night Visions complements the sport well.
“A lot of the songs on our album are pretty powerful, so I would like to think it lends well to the sport,” Reynolds says. “It’s pretty hard-hitting, but I think there is something to be said for all different genres. There are hip-hop songs I feel are perfect for the sport, and I’m sure there are country songs and heavier songs that complement MMA. I don’t think there is any one genre that’s perfect for the sport. I think it’s whatever gets you in the zone, and if that’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding or “Radioactive” or some song by Tool, whatever it is that gets you in the zone, that’s right.”
Reynolds’ next goal is to find the time to attend a UFC event. Las Vegas is his home, and it’s the city that helped put him and Imagine Dragons on the map.
“I’ve been invited to go, but I’ve been on the road nonstop for the past two years,” he says. “The second I get any time off in Vegas, I’m definitely gonna roll over to one of the events and see a live UFC fight. I love Vegas. I have so much pride for that city. I know most people think of it as just a tourist place, but there is a lot of culture to Vegas and a lot of pride in the people. Being around the fight community there is awesome.”
Imagine Dragons’ debut album, Night Visions featuring the #1 hit, Radioactive, is available now on iTunes.