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Imagine Dragons Frontman Reacts to Serj Tankian Criticisms

"There's corrupt leaders and warmongers all over the world, where do you draw the line?”

Imagine Dragons at Roundhouse in 2017

Last week we ran a piece on Serj Tankian’s criticisms toward Imagine Dragons for playing a show in Azerbaijan, a nation engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against its Armenian population. Tankian’s comments stemmed from that band’s choice to perform in spite of a letter he’d written to them outlining the issues and encouraging them to cancel, and a petition launched in that letter’s wake. Those calls were echoed in an open letter last August by other prominent musicians, including Brian Eno, Roger Waters, and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore.

Since then, Imagine Dragons vocalist Dan Reynolds has addressed these criticisms, as well as recent backlash over performing in Tel Aviv, Israel. When asked in a recent interview with Rolling Stone whether he had any regrets, he responded:

“No, 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?”

When asked if he had any response to Tankian’s comments, Reynold’s was evasive, restating

“I think I just said it. It’s a slippery slope, and I’m never going to deprive our fans of playing for them.”

Some artists take a different position. As Tankian put it in Metal Hammer, "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."

Imagine Dragons in currently on tour in the US.