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September 23, 2014

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Imagine Dragons are Leno tested, Warlock approved

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Imagine Dragons on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

When Charlie Sheen is asking to come see your next show, you know you did something right.

LA-based former local band Imagine Dragons impressed the Winning Warlock himself, along with a huge national audience, when they performed new single “It’s Time” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Monday night. Bassist Ben McKee talked to Weekly about the experience, hanging with Charlie, and what comes next.

Were you more nervous than for your usual shows?

We were definitely getting pretty nervous going into the studio. This was our first national television appearance, and we knew that it was going to be the first time that a lot of people were going to hear us. It's different playing on TV than in a live venue. You only get one song, one chance to make a good impression.

What were your thoughts as soon as you finished the performance?

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Imagine Dragons bassist Ben McKee and Charlie Sheen.

There was this rush of relief and elation. We had done a few rehearsals throughout the day, but when you hear Jay's voice introduce you and that curtain goes up and you see all of those cameras pointed at you, the stress level is amplified. We were all so relieved that we got through the song without anything going wrong. We also didn't realize that Jay Mohr and Charlie Sheen were going to come over and shake our hands and actually talk to us. It was incredibly surreal.

And then there’s the after-party ... was Charlie Sheen on his best behavior?

We didn't really party too hard after the show. We had a flight to catch early in the morning for our next gig so after getting all our gear home and eating some dinner, we all met back up, watched the show together and then went to bed. We did get to spend a few minutes backstage talking to Charlie.  He really is a super friendly guy and seemed to really be into the band. He asked about getting some tickets to our next show in LA, so hopefully we get to play for him again.  I didn't see him with anything stronger than grape soda, so I'd say he was behaving himself for sure.

How does it feel to have gone from the Bunkhouse and Beauty Bar to The Tonight Show in a few short years?

In some ways it feels like it all happened so quickly, but in other ways it really feels like it's been a long road. We've been working as hard as we can for years to make the best music that we can. It's really rewarding to know that people are responding to what we've been doing. It would be a lot of fun to go back to the Beauty Bar and have some kind of crazy party there. We've had a lot of great nights on that stage playing into the early morning hours.

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The local band was in good company.

What is the next major goal?

There's no goal or achievement that we could reach that would ever make us feel like we had "made it" or that we could relax and feel satisfied. We need to make music, and we never want to stop. Right now we're just focusing on giving our upcoming album, Night Visions, as much energy as we can and making sure that we have an energetic and entertaining show that we can bring to people when we go back out on tour. I suppose our next goal after that will be to make another album that we're proud of and to take those songs on the road, too. It's a vicious cycle, but we love it. I don't think that we could live any other way.

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