Wayne "Wing" Sermon literally earned a degree in rocking out. Before becoming a guitarist for the indie pop hotbutton quad Imagine Dragons, Wayne studied all forms of stringed shredding at the Berklee College of Music, where his path first met that of future bro and bandmate Dan Reynolds. Now as the songwriting core of Imagine Dragons, Wayne and Dan strive to capture a full range of human emotion (in spooky apocalyptic settings) with each hook-tastic tune, and breakout single "It's Time" is their foot-stompin' thesis.
But the band's penchant for wordplay extends far beyond mere lyrics. How? Anagrams.
"Imagine Dragons is actually an anagram," Wayne said in a phone chat before a college show in Bakersfield, CA last weekend. "We actually don't tell anybody what the original phrase is… it's fun for fans to try and figure it out."
An anagram of Imagine Dragons, huh? What could it be?
"A DIN, SOME RAGING" ?
"RIGID AS AN GNOME" ??
"RAMEN GOD, I SIN! AG!" ????
No…none of those are real things. But maybe YOU can unscramble the hidden phrase. We hereby decree the first-ever Imagine Dragons Anagram Slam…began! Click play on "It's Time" below, scope the rest of our interview with mighty Wing (he has some pretty good advice for making it in the arts—and surviving the apocalypse), and try to crack the code in the comments section. Ramen God be with you.
Hey Wayne! Your bio says you've made a habit of "practicing guitar through meals and other socially inappropriate situations." How inappropriate are we talking?
Well, I played through at a funeral once.
Just kidding [laughs]. But a lot of times when I'm talking on the phone with people—not right now, but a lot of times—I'll be holding a guitar. Or when I'm eating breakfast, sometimes I'll have a spoon in one hand and a guitar in the other. I've been kind of obsessive about it since I was 12 or 13.
Mandolin too, apparently. Is that you playing mandolin at the beginning of "It's Time"?
It is. That sound is a lot of things, actually. It's me playing mandolin, and it's Dan playing his synth part with kind of a delay on it, and there's a guitar mixed really well into the mix also. That's kind of a signature of what we try to do—the mixing of organic and inorganic instruments on top of each other.
Where'd you film the "It's Time" music video?
That was filmed in Barstow, California, which is this little community between Las Vegas and LA. We filmed in this dry lakebed that sort of went on and on for miles in every direction. We thought it'd be perfect for the sort of apocalyptic vibe of the video that we were going for. The apocalypse was a running theme throughout the whole EP, actually.
Do you have a favorite apocalypse movie?
[laughs] Good question, lemme think here…You know, Independence Day is always a good one. Will Smith punching an alien in the face and saying "Welcome to Earth"? Classic.
Do you buy into any of the December 21, 2012 Mayan Apocalypse theories?
You know, not me personally. I think they just ran out of days. Probably after carving the calendar into stone over and over again, they just said "enough is enough." We'll have to do some ritual to celebrate, though. Keep the Earth from exploding, just in case.
Where'd the name Imagine Dragons come from?
The name's actually an anagram. Our original name was a phrase we all liked, and we were gonna make that phrase the band's name until we randomly switched the order of all the letters a few times and came out with Imagine Dragons.
That's rad! What's the original phrase?
We actually don't tell anybody what the original phrase is. We haven't told our fans or anything. It's kind of nice to have a little mystery. When you're in the spotlight and so exposed it's nice to keep something to yourself. And it's fun for fans to try and figure out what it is. We get all kinds of guesses. We never tell them if they're right or not. Maybe at some point we'll reveal what it is.
This convo is going up on a SparkNotes blog. We're gonna figure out that anagram.
Do it. Email us the results.
What would you say your geekiest habit is?
I tend to count things. I like things to be even, but especially in fours and eights. Maybe that's because of music, you know, because music is sub-beats of four and eight. I don't know, though. I just like things to be in even numbers, and I'm subconsciously always counting things and grouping them into fours and eights. It's the weirdest thing in the world.
That's great—do you bandmates give you crap for it?
I never told them! I've never told anyone, actually. But they're overhearing it now so we'll see if they give me crap for it later.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians besides "just stick with it"?
Don't be a musician if it's just something you want to do. Being a musician is something you have to do. It's a hard life, and there's a lot of competition. There's thousands of bands and thousands of musicians who want to do exactly what you're doing, so work hard. You have to work harder than anyone else around you. Whatever success our band has had is just from working hard, you know? Whatever lack of talent we might have, we've made up for with working really hard.
That's actually really solid advice for any aspiring artist. When did you know that you had to be a musician?
I realized it when I was 12, but ignored it for a while. All through high school I tried to be open-minded to other careers, but none of it felt right. I think everyone in this band had that same inner conflict at some point, asked "What else can I do?" and kind of came up blank [laughs]. There's nothing else that excited us and got us up in the morning as much as playing music. So that's what we've done.
More IMAGINE DRAGONS anagrams:
"MAN IS DANGER," I GO.
RAISIN GONE MAD, G!
GOD IS IN A MANGER
GOD REMAINS IN GA (Georgia)
DIG IN, O MANAGERS!
GINGER MAN IS ADO
GO IN DREAM, IN GAS
DEAR NOGGINS: I AM.
I DREAMING A SONG :p
NOGGIN IS A DREAM
IS NOGGIN A DREAM?
I GAG ROMANS, ENID
RAIN GONGS: A DIME!
IS GONAD GAMER IN?
I NOM, GAIN GRADES!
MAN IS READING. GO!
DOG IN MAIN GEARS!!!
A DRAM; GIN IS GONE :(
What did we miss? Show us what you got, wordheads!