"I think about how there are people out there who might have been waiting for two years to see us play, and that keeps us going," frontman Dan Reynolds tells EW.

By Madison Vain
March 01, 2016 at 02:09 PM EST
Patricia Seaton

Imagine Dragons recently headed off the road for their longest stretch of down time since breaking big six years ago. But for fans who are jonesing for their particular brand of alt-pop-rock, there’s Imagine Dragons In Concert: Smoke + Mirrors, the group’s new concert film coming to select theaters Wednesday, March 2.

The concert featured in the film took place last July 4 in Toronto, perennially a favorite tour stop for the group, and EW caught up with charismatic frontman Dan Reynolds to chat about showing the footage to his daughter, battling depression, and when fans can expect new Imagine Dragons music.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you want to make a concert movie?

Reynolds: I grew up on [concert] DVDs more than shows. I came from a super conservative family. [Reynolds grew up a member of the Mormon Church in Las Vegas.] And I had eight siblings — seven brothers and one sister. When you have that many kids in the family, your parents aren’t going to pay for you to go a show, you had to find the money yourself. There are a lot of kids like that, who can’t go to concerts, so we wanted to be able to give something to fans who maybe can’t make it to the show. And also, it’s something that we, as a band, can hold onto forever.

The greatest takeaway of the film, to me, is seeing how all-in you guys go every night.

We all love this. This is our passion. We did probably over 200 shows this last year — it’s easy to have a night where you feel off or tired or like you don’t want to do a show. You’re going to have a day where you’re in a bad mood. But I think about how there are people out there who might have been waiting for two years to see us play, and that keeps us going.

You have a young daughter, do you think about when she’ll be able to watch something like this?

I already feel the embarrassment she’ll feel. My hair was so awkward! It’s only six months later and I already feel like this — how will I feel in 20 years? She’s only three and she’s already so much cooler than me. In 15 years I know I’m going to be a joke.

When Smoke + Mirrors came out and this tour kicked off, you said that it was the hardest time you’ve had dealing with your depression. How are you now?

I can honestly say the last six months of my life have been the healthiest I’ve had in years and years. I’ve battled depression for a long time, like in middle school and high school, but settling into life after the album blew up and the band took off…it took me a while. It was so heavy, I couldn’t find a way out.

What are some of the positives you get out of touring?

Honestly, it’s the greatest thing you could ever experience. And the joy isn’t in going out there and thinking, “All these people are here to see me and listen to my music” — it’s that you’re in a room with tons of people and you’re all there for the same cause, singing together and celebrating life, the highs and lows of it, together. 

People have debated where Imagine Dragons falls on the pop/rock divide for a while. Do you ever feel a need to clarify your position?

Growing up my favorite bands were like Phil Collins, Paul Simon, and U2 — very pop-melody driven music. I didn’t grow up listening to heavy rock ‘n roll, so I get it when people think we’re a pop band. [But] I prefer to think of us as an alternative act. It’s a funny word but “alternative music” is just music that you can’t place. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. There’s so much genre-bending at this point, it doesn’t matter as much. 

Have you started writing for the next album?

We’ve promised each other this year off. I think everyone needs a little bit of time off from the band — including the public [laughs].

Who will be the first to break the promise?

I couldn’t even gamble on that. But like, Wayne [Sermon] missed the birth of his baby a few weeks ago when we were overseas, so I feel like I can confidently say he’ll be the last to be ready to go. Then again, he sent me a song yesterday [laughs].