Las Vegas, Nevada, November 4, 2021 – Producer / guitarist Wayne Sermon and his fellow Imagine Dragons have entered the studio with Rick Rubin to record their latest album after months separated by lockdowns from COVID19. While the in-person sessions were cathartic for the group, they also demonstrated just how productive they had been in their separation when they arrived with dozens of completed songs that they considered to be the best. The ability to work remotely and tap into feelings of isolation and longing gave the group a fresh and creative energy, and resulted in Mercury – Act 1, their most powerful album to date. As one of the group’s creative lifebloods, Sermon relied on its well-stocked home studio and sound Amphion Two18 and BaseTwo25 bass extension system during this process.
In pursuit of artistic simplicity
Although the group generally prefers to write in the group room, the challenge of writing from a distance has given them new opportunities. For Sermon, it was a way to test his evolving concepts of songwriting and production, focusing on providing Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds with the bare bones of a track that would arouse strong emotions in his performance. “I think when you’re working on a track at home there’s the temptation to go really big on the production – make it look bigger than it requires,” he explained. “What I found is that singers respond better to simple ideas that give them room to really work. Some of my favorite songs started from places like this.
Sermon says his first love has always been pop music, although he is a Berklee-trained musician with a background in jazz and “jagged” guitar playing. As the group evolved, it pushed itself to explore a sort of artistic minimalism – prioritizing memorable melodies and relatable emotions in songwriting above all else. These concepts came to the fore when generating ideas for Mercury – Act 1, resulting in the writing of the most direct songs in the band’s career to date. “When we wrote ‘One Day’, the last track on the record, it was really just one of those songs that came out effortlessly in ten minutes,” he said. “It’s incredibly difficult to write a really good and simple song, so when they come out you have to learn to trust yourself and appreciate what happened because it’s so rare. “
“At the end of the day, my singing art is really all about creating the right environment for the singer,” he continued. “I always love to shred and respect people who can do it well, but great melodies and lyrics are what connects you to audience. Making sure everything is in support of that in my writing and production is extremely. important, and that’s what guided my approach to what I use to put these pieces together.
Clarity and inspiration
Many Imagine Dragons tracks begin in Sermon’s well-stocked home studio. Working on Ableton, he uses a plethora of VSTs and plugins in addition to some of his favorite analog gear, including the Roland Jupiter, Juno 106, and Yamaha CS60 synthesizers. To get the most out of his favorite mix of digital and analog gear, Sermon uses an Amphion monitoring setup consisting of a pair of Two18s powered by a matching Amphion amplifier. “Amphion works so well because they have the right mindset about how the frequencies should be presented,” he explained. “500 to 2-3k are the ‘silver’ frequencies in most music – you can hear them no matter what device you’re listening to – so getting them with such clarity and balance has really changed the music. given. Once you can tune these frequencies, they sound great everywhere. “
In addition to his Two18s, Sermon also uses the Amphion BaseTwo25 for a three-way broadband system. While not traditionally a fan of subwoofers, Sermon found it to be an effective way to control the lower octave while still feeling like a natural extension of his existing monitoring setup. “Submarines have a way of not integrating very well and scrambling the imagery in a lot of monitor setups,” he said. “What’s great about BaseTwo25 is that the imagery is just as clear and allows you to be very confident when mixing at 80Hz and down, which is very important when you think about how the mixes will sound on a car radio. “
While he always prefers to work face-to-face with his band mates in the studio, Sermon says the effectiveness of his home installation has proven to be artistically inspiring. Being able to work quickly and efficiently was a boon to the band’s songwriting and ultimately helped Mercury: Act 1 take off. “It’s interesting to see how this process influenced the art we’re producing now – it’s really something that couldn’t be done twenty years ago,” he said. “However, I’m thankful that we were able to do that, and having Amphion as part of this setup gave me that extra level of confidence that my ideas would work. “
“Each producer has their own thing and for me, since using Amphion, I have never had more confidence in the sound of my music or more joy in listening to it,” he continued. “Once it sounds good on them, you know it will sound good anywhere.”
All photos by Alexandra Sermon
For more information on Imagine Dragons and to hear Mercury – Act 1, please visit: http://www.imaginedragonsmusic.com/
For more information on Amphion, please visit: http://amphion.fi/create/
Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd. was established in 1998. We design and manufacture loudspeakers which are characterized by honest and precise sound reproduction. Precise driver integration ensures world-class imaging and phase consistency. Controlled dispersion technology provides more stable results in a variety of room acoustics. All products are handcrafted in Finland (and Amphion amplifiers are assembled in Finland) to ensure long-lasting listening quality.