Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds responds to criticism of band playing Israel and Azerbaijan

Dan Reynolds – the frontman of Imagine Dragons – has responded to the criticism the band have received for playing Israel and Azerbaijan.

Last month, System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian criticised the band for going ahead with their controversial gigs and shared that he has “zero respect for those guys”. The dispute came over a show that the Las Vegas band had plans for in the country’s capital city, Baku, which some perceived as being an endorsement of Azerbeijan’s authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev.

Tankian had sent the group a letter last summer urging them to pull out of the Baku Olympic Stadium show. In the letter, he stated that proceeding with the gig “would help whitewash the dictatorial regime’s image” (via Louder).

Further pressure to back out also came from fellow musicians including Brian EnoThurston Moore and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who shared an open letter last August, asking them to pull the show. “Performing in Baku under these circumstances, regardless of intent, can only help the government of Azerbaijan cover up its crimes,” a section of it read.


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Now, Reynolds has opened up about their decision to go ahead with the gigs despite their colleague’s pleas to pull out.


Speaking to Rolling Stone, the singer said: “I don’t believe in depriving our fans who want to see us play because of the acts of their leaders and their governments. I think that’s a really slippery slope. I think the second you start to do that, there’s corrupt leaders and warmongers all over the world, and where do you draw the line?”

He also addressed Tankian’s comments, sharing: “I think I just said it. It’s a slippery slope, and I’m never going to deprive our fans of playing for them.”

Following the band’s performances in Israel and Azerbaijan, Tankian went on to criticise the members.

“Look, I’m not a judge for people to tell bands where to play, or where not to play… I get that they’re doing it for money, that they’re artists, that they’re entertaining, all of that,” he told Metal Hammer.


“But when there’s a government that’s about to commit ethnic cleansing, when Azerbaijan was starving the 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and not allowing any food or medicine in… you know, as an artist, if I found that out, there is no fucking way I could have gone and played that show. But some artists do. And I don’t know what to say about those artists. I don’t respect them as human beings. Fuck their art, they’re not good human beings, as far as I’m concerned.”

He continued: “If you are that blind to justice that you will go play a show in a country that’s starving another country, illegally, according to the International Court of Justice, according to what Amnesty International is saying, what Human Rights Watch is saying… If you still go and play that country, I don’t know what to say about you as a fucking human being. I don’t even care about your music. If you’re a bad human being, I don’t give a fuck. So that’s where I’m at with that. I have zero respect for those guys.”

In other news, Reynolds recently revealed that he’s delayed Imagine Dragons gigs because he’s been busy playing League Of Legends.